Mike Yen, Mixology Maestro of Avenue 5

Mike Yen works his mixology magic this weekend!

One of the highlights of this weekend’s San Diego Spirits Festival will be the Ultimate Bartender Battle. Over the last few months, San Diego’s top bartenders have been competing in neighborhood battles for the right to represent their ‘hoods in this ultimate showdown and, this week, I’ll be sharing a few recipes from the competitors…starting with the most technically challenging of the bunch.

The recipe below is for “Asians Driving Cadillac,” the drink that won Mike Yen at Avenue 5 top honors in the Uptown battle. This, my friends, is a master at work:

  • 2 oz – Milagro silver Tequila
  • 1 oz – Yuzu juice (filtered)
  • 1 oz – Aloe juice (filtered)
  • 1/2 oz – Lime juice (filtered)
  • 1/4 oz – St. Germaine elderflower liqueur
  • 1/4 oz – Milagro agave nectar
  • 2 slices – Baby ginger
  • swab – Blood orange perfume
  • 1 – Cadillac “olive”

Swab the rim of chilled cocktail glass with blood orange perfume. Set aside. Muddle ginger with agave nectar and St. Germaine. Add remaining fluid ingredients and ice. Shake until chilled and strain into prepared glass. Garnish with speared “olive.”

Sounds simple, right?

But, it’s all in the preparation. To get those juices to the perfect clarity, Yen filters them with grade 203 filter paper and a Buchner Flask. To create the blood orange perfume, he uses a microplane to zest six blood oranges and soaks that zest overnight  in a cup of Grand Marnier before boiling it down until only sugars and oils remain.

For the piece de resistance, the Cadillac “olive,” he hollows out a white grape before injecting a mixture of fresh blood orange juice and Grand Marnier that has been infused with calcium lactate. Then, he submerges the grape in a sodium alginate bath and allows the gelatin barrier to form and seal in fluid contents.

Why go to all the trouble?

Yen says “My inspiration was to provide a creation that offers illusion, flavors, and technique. The goal was to present the image of a dirty martini, but playfully deliver a completely different flavor profile by applying Asian flavors to a popular drink, the Cadillac Margarita.”

Mission accomplished. Can’t wait to see what he comes up with this weekend!

This entry was posted in Culinary, Insider Tips and tagged , , , by Kate. Bookmark the permalink.

About Kate

I own, and use, a library card, a record player, a sewing machine and a meat smoker.  Ride my bicycle every day and will, sometimes, wear my roller skates in the house. Have a wealth of useless knowledge – for which you will be thankful when we’re teamed up in Trivial Pursuit.

How would you describe your ideal San Diego day?

Hike through the spring wildflowers in the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Watch the July 4th fireworks over San Diego Bay. Eat Julian Apple Pie a la mode and check out the autumn leaves. Ice skate and enjoy the twinkling holiday decorations at the Hotel del Coronado. All in the same day.

If you were invisible, where would you go?

I’ve always wanted to be able to stop and restart time like that Twilight Zone episode back in the 80’s, “A Little Peace And Quiet,” but, you know, without the a-bomb at the end. Basically, I just want to avoid waiting in lines.

What is your favorite San Diego outdoor activity?

Brunch, without a doubt. Also, cocktails by the pool, outdoor movies in Balboa Park, scouring the swap meet for vintage finds, hanging out on the patio at the Casbah between sets, lawn games and backyard barbecues.

Do you prefer burgers and beer or linguine and red wine?

Give me uni plucked from the sea by local divers, a warm, crusty loaf from Bread & Cie, luscious Carlsbad strawberries, sweet local lobster in season and creamy Fallbrook avocados. And, most definitely, a grass-fed beef burger with Winchester gouda and a cold San Diego craft brew.

Latest music purchases for my iPod/MP3 player are…

Honestly, I buy my records at the thrift store and depend on my husband to download new music. Lately he's been stacking the deck pretty heavy with 90's indie rock, bluegrass covers and drone metal.  Go figure.

For more San Diego dining dish, follow Kate on Twitter @katebuska.

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