Mission Chinese Food-Style Summer Cocktails Are All About Umami and Ice Cream


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Mission Chinese Food-Style Summer Cocktails Are All About Umami and Ice Cream

Cocktail wizard Sam Anderson shares two decidedly unique summer drinks: the Bird Nest and the Grasshopper Float.

Margaritas, rosé, spritzers, yada yada yada.

Dare we say that sometimes the summer boozing menu looks a little bit… stale?

Sam Anderson's drinks are the opposite of boring. As the beverage director at Mission Chinese Food, his drinks have done everything from glow in the dark to pay tribute to 80s soft rock icons (looking at you, Phil Collins). Now, he's here to help you break the chains of routine when it comes to your hot-weather fade schedule.


First, consider the Bird Nest. Super refreshing without being sweet, it combines yellow tomato and cured seaweed for a super-umami combo. This drink is an Asian play on Del's Lemonade, "a drink from my youth in Rhode Island that I always crave in the summer," Sam explains.


"Drink these in summer because they have cooling elements—the high acid and soft sugars of yellow tomato, the umami and sea-vegetal flavors of shio kombu and pisco, which I think is one of the most underrated summer spirits," says Sam. "Bring all the ingredients for the Bird Nest to dock on your lake or beach vacation in a mini cooler. Bust all the ingredients out and make the drink for your friends, preferably be in a swimming suit after a long day in the ocean or lake. Eat copious amounts of ceviche and put on some good Japanese surf rock such as Takeshi Terauchi and the Bunnys." And there you have it: your weekend plans, through and through.

RECIPE: Bird Nest

Second, we have a decidedly new-school take on a minty, creamy classic that your grandma probably loved: the Grasshopper, made with creme de cacao and creme de menthe. Sam's take is the Chlorophyll Grasshopper Float.


"Ice cream floats are, for me, a very evocative summer dessert and always make me feel a particular hazy, childish nostalgia," Sam explains of the drink. "I wanted to take this and riff on it using chlorophyll as an ingredient, as I think it has really interesting umami/bitter green notes that pair with the brassy menthe and high tones of the ice cream I chose." (And he didn't choose plain old vanilla—nope, this is "Bath Salts" ice cream from Ice and Vice, which is pine- and lavender-flavored.)


"All of this is smoothed over by the milk-fat of the ice cream and the slight crunch of the silver dust-coated bee pollen on top." Oh, did we mention that it's topped with sparkly, silver-dusted bee pollen?

RECIPE: Grasshopper Float

Sure, it's a dessert cocktail. But that can be a beautiful thing, especially when it's a hit of sweet mint on a hot summer's night. "For the Grasshopper, I would bring the ingredients to the roof and watch fireworks while drinking and spooning this beverage," Sam recommends. "Make sure you are reclining in a hammock if at all possible, and have a cool breeze on the way."


So what should you be eating with these offbeat offerings? "The Bird Nest is a great party drink and will pair well with spicy food Asian or Mexican food as well as seafood," Sam tells us. "The Grasshopper is a dessert cocktail and will pair well with birthday cake." And as we all know, a nice slice of birthday cake is in order year-round.

And hey, drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea.