I was enjoying lunch at Lark Creek Steak recently with a cowboy and a rastafari, and while you never would think that these two would get along so swell, there we were, having the best time. Did I mention that the cowboy was a hamburger and the rastafari was a cocktail? And no, don't worry, they weren't "talking to me." Or me to them. Much.
See Also: Lark Creek Steak's Steakburger
While I was expecting a good burger, I was impressed by the fantastic Cowboy Steakburger ($18.50, 8 oz. beef patty, bacon, cheddar, BBQ sauce, crispy onions), which came with with thick-cut fries that nail down the crisp-exterior-with-a-creamy-interior standard great steakhouses aspire to. The half-pound patty sounds like overkill, fashioned from the leftover scraps and trimmings from prepping the restaurant's steaks, but after finishing one, I was almost able to convince myself to have another. Great char from the wood grill, lightly smoked, and a perfect ratio of meat to bun was made even better with the the Rastafari ($10, Blackwell Rum, banana shrub, mint, soda water) cocktail.
The Rastafari is essentially a variation of a mojito, swapping out the light rum with dark Jamaican rum, and using the banana shrub to sweeten and add the distinctive vinegar tang. While one might assume the cocktail started out as a mojito, it was actually bar manager Aaron "Ace" Chon's desire to add a banana cocktail to the menu that sparked the idea for a drink. Not wanting to deal with a blender and create slushy drinks, he got the idea to make a shrub, the old method of preserving fruit juices using vinegar and sugar.
Choosing balasamic for its spice and sweet quality and combining it with sugar and bananas didn't yield spectacular results. "Then I decided to cook it out and let it age for about a week or two," said Chon, adding that, "the results were fantastic."
Chon was inspired to combine it with Jamaican rum made by the company owned by legendary reggae music producer Chris Blackwell, using the mint in the drink as the rasta "herb," and dubbed it the Rastafari. Have one at the with your burger and make everything irie.
1 ½ oz. Blackwell Rum
1 oz. Banana shrub*
6-8 Sprigs of fresh mint (reserving the best looking one for garnishing)
In a chilled highball (or Collins) glass, bruise the mint leaves enough to release the oils. Add the shrub and rum and fill with ice. Top with club soda and stir gently until all ingredients are incorporated. Garnish with a mint leaf and a cocktail straw and serve.
*Banana shrub: Combine equal measured parts of pureed banana, sugar, and balsamic vinegar in a nonreactive pot and heat until mixture comes to a simmer and sugar dissolves. Strain through a fine sieve or chinois into a sanitized, airtight glass container and let rest in the refrigerator for two weeks. You can freeze excess shrub.
Lark Creek Steak, 845 Market, fourth floor, 593-4100.