Nevada’s Most Imaginative Bartender

Photo by Joe Durkin

Photo by Joe Durkin

At BLVD Cocktail Company, mixologist Juyoung Kang makes cocktails to suit the tastes of her guests. But for the Nevada finals of Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition, Kang created something to suit herself. And it blew the judges away. You see, Kang is lactose intolerant, so many cocktails are simply off the menu for her, including the Ramos Gin Fizz. In fact, that’s what inspired her winning entry, The Lacy Fizz, which delivers all the creamy mouthfeel of that soda-topped gin classic, but with a creative dairy-free twist: just gin, lemon juice, egg white and spiced syrup, shaken and topped with soda.

The magic is in Kang’s incredibly complex garage-fermented, tea-based milk punch soda, for which she did extensive research into dairy chemistry. The milk is curdled and strained out, leaving behind a creamy texture, but with significantly less of the lactic acid that she cannot stomach. Preparing the milk punch soda in advance made this drink seem deceivingly simple.

“I’m a problem solver, an innovator and someone who finds solutions to things that need adjusting,” Kang says. “My perspective is to always look ahead, research the past and marry the trends.”

The Lacy Fizz

Created by Juyoung Kang, mixologist at BLVD Cocktail Company at the Linq

In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 ounces Bombay Sapphire gin, 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 ounce house-made spiced syrup (recipe below) and ½ ounce egg white. Cover and dry shake or use a hand-held frother wand (try Aerolatte) to emulsify all ingredients. Add ice, cover and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled, stemmed fizz glass and top with 2 ounces house-made milk punch soda (recipe below). Garnish with edible micro flowers.

Spiced Syrup (makes 3.5-4 cups)

  • 1 ounce caraway seeds
  • 1 ounce angelica root
  • 1 ounce white peppercorns
  • 4  cinnamon sticks
  • 8 star anise pods
  • ½ ounce red chili flakes
  • ¼ ounce vanilla extract
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar

Method: Combine all ingredients except for the sugar in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil; simmer for about 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool, then strain and add sugar. Stir to dissolve sugar completely into the mixture.

Milk Punch Soda (makes about 2 liters)

  • 8 bags black tea
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 4 cups 2:1 simple syrup (2 parts sugar dissolved in 1 part water)
  • 6 cups milk
  • 1/8 ounce active dry yeast
  • 2 liter plastic soda bottle

Method:  Brew the tea in 4 cups of water. Squeeze the remaining tea out of the bag and discard. Add lemon and orange juices. Add the simple syrup to the tea and juice mixture. On low heat in a separate saucepan, slowly bring the milk to a rolling boil. Carefully add the scolding hot milk to the tea mixture—the milk should curdle and eventually coagulate on top of the tea and juice. Allow to cool, then take strain the mixture through a Superbag or a very tightly woven mesh strainer; this should take about 24-48 hours, resulting in a fairly clear soda base. (Leave the coagulated milk in the strainer and repeat for an even clearer product.) Transfer this to the 2-liter plastic bottle (about 6 to 8 cups), adding absolutely no more than 8 cups to the bottle or it might explode during fermentation. Add the yeast to the bottle, close the lid tightly place in an enclosed area (in case it bursts) where it is warm. This will help speed up the fermentation process. (If the area is about 75 degrees, it will take 36-48 hours to ferment. In an unplugged fridge in Kang’s garage, at 100-plus degrees, it fermented in 5 hours.)  The mixture has fermented and carbonated when the plastic bottle is very firm with pressure. Immediately place the fermented soda into a refrigerator to cool and keep the soda from over fermenting. Once, cool, transfer to an airtight container by slowly pouring the soda into a new bottle. (Kang tip: Use a funnel with a chopstick taped or held to it retain more of the carbonation.) Bottled tightly, the soda should last two weeks before becoming sour. If the soda should flatten, only use a soda charger to re-carbonate for service.


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