Cocktail Hour: Todd Adam of Eleven
By Morgan LandisPublished July 1, 2012
Something new. Something old. Something from abroad, something like home. The new cocktail list at Eleven (owned and located next to Hyde Park at 591 N High St.) is the perfect marriage of old school classics and modern mixologies.
At Eleven, the master of ceremonies is bartender Todd Adam, whose knowledge of cocktail lore is only matched by his creative flair. The Sazerac, he tells me, is thought to be the first American drink having met its beginning in New Orleans. He also shares how he put his own twist to the something old by adding Cocchi Americano (which still has Quinine instead of the Lillet most restaurants use) to a traditional Vesper.
Manning the bar since Eleven’s 2008 opening, Adam’s love for the craft is evidenced through his impeccable instincts for ingredients. Many of the new cocktails on the menu have local components, including the Strawberry Vanilla Cobbler, a sweet-and-seductive showcase for Watershed Vodka and simple syrup made in-house with real vanilla plants.
When not dipping into local tanks, Eleven has scoured the country for the right accents for their drinks. The Huckleberry features an Elderflower-flavored cotton candy custom-made by a company in Californian, just for Eleven. The cotton candy is dropped into the alcohol and dissolves to create a grown-up libation that tips its hat to the summers of our youth.
The new drink menu has other showpieces, too; the Brulee Germain gives Adam a chance to fire up his customers, burning lemon and sugar in a glass before adding vodka and St. Germain. For more heat, the Cucumber Jalapeño Caipiroska, made with lime and jalapeños, is crisp and refreshing, with just a bit of a finishing bite.
But, the night isn’t over at Eleven without a continued history lesson from Adam. Why do we call these fancy elixirs cocktails? Is it because “jiggers” were originally used to hold eggs or because in older times some people used rooster legs to stir the drinks? The past may be a little hazy, but the future looks very bright for this sexy coupling of mature and modern refreshment.
Cucumber Jalapeño Caiproska
1 oz. Effen Cucumber Vodka
2 pieces of cucumber
2 slices of jalapeño (seeds taken out)
1 slice of lime
1 oz. of simple syrup
Muddle cucumber, jalapeño and lime in rocks class. Put in ice and pour in vodka and simple syrup. Shake and serve with lime wedge.
1 lemon (insides only)
3 sugar cubes
1.5 oz. Ketel One Citron
1.5 oz. St. Germain
Tonic (to fill)
Brulee lemon and sugar in bottom of glass. Add vodka and St. Germain. Shake and fill glass with tonic.
Strawberry Vanilla Cobbler
1 oz vanilla bean simple syrup
1 oz fresh lemon juice
2 oz Watershed Vodka
Muddle vodka and strawberry. Add simple syrup, lemon juice and shake. Serve on the rocks with rim lined in crunched graham cracker.