“This is for Lil’ Doogie Fontaine, the Westbank puppet rapper. Rami [Sharkey], who does Lil’ Doogie, is a friend, and he actually did Cane & Table’s website too, but anyway, I figured doing the Doogie would be a good drink. Very fun, very irreverent and stylistically a good fit for us here at Cane & Table. We kind of took the atmospheric effects of tiki restaurants, how they’re very fun and not too serious, and we make drinks like that—haul out pineapples and coconuts, fun glasses. Just like Lil’ Doogie does the Cash Money-style, New Orleans-style rap, but a very funny puppet take on it. It’s a little bit bitter and a good bit refreshing.
I try to look at the beginning of the tiki movement, where a lot fresher ingredients were used, before they started using canned Coco López, sweet and sour mix, canned apple juice and stuff like that. Before it all retreated to strip mall Chinese restaurants. I like the tiki style a lot. With Cane & Table, I really wanted to focus on how American drinking culture grew out of the age of exploration and the settling of the Caribbean and the Gulf. A good linear path to follow is Christopher Columbus’ second voyage and the introduction of sugar cane to the Caribbean, then that snowballing into rum production.
On our current drink menu, I really like the Stereo Taste. It was a very nerdy pursuit of mine, taking the idea of chiral receptors in your taste buds and stereoisomers, which is a molecular structure where something is completely the same but reverse, like your hands—they’re almost identical, but there is no part where you can match them up. Stereoisomers that occur are mints and caraway, so the Stereo Taste is a mojito built with aquavit, rum, mint and caraway. If you look at their structures, it’s mostly carbon, hydrogen and oxygen that build up both of them, and their structures are completely identical, but reversed. There’s a lot of interesting food tech research that goes on. All that food science stuff that helped develop all of that canned stuff that I hate, also did all of this research, which if really fascinating when it comes to finding interesting flavor combinations. Like isoamyl acetate that gives banana the banana flavor, it’s really fascinating how it meshes with cloves. It makes sense, and Bananas Foster has a lot of similar flavor components. If you look into the sciences, you’ll find a lot of inspiration there, as well as in the history.
How I got into bartending? Well, I got an English degree, and it’s a natural fit for English majors to be bartenders, I think. I bartended through college, then finished college and continued bartending. That’s when I decided to get better at it.”
The Little Fontaine
1 1/2 ounce Cynar
1/2 ounce Liqueur de Sapins
1 ounce Caña Brava Panama white rum
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
2 dashes St. Ango (2 parts Angostura mixed with 1 part Herbsaint)
Mix liquids, pour into a tall glass, fill with pebble ice (smaller shapes of ice have more surface, cooling the drink more quickly and also diluting it less) and serve with fresh mint.