Few bars in the city explore drink trends with the earnest exuberance of V Street, where the plates of assertively spiced international street food (spun with a creative vegan twist) demand beverages that both quench and offer some intrigue on their own. Orange wines. Cocktails made with tea, wine, oat milk, and poppy seeds. Nonalcoholic “refreshments” with kombucha, fruit, hops, herbs, and ... caramel corn?
They don’t always work. But there’s also little risk based on my experience with an outgoing manager who noticed some unloved experiments on our table, asked for honest feedback, and then removed them from our bill, though I really hadn’t made a fuss. (Weak tea cocktails aren’t for me, I guess; also, I’ve praised many orange wines before, but the Kisi from Georgia tasted as if it had been filtered through a wet basement.) That proactive approach is simply good service, a willingness to sacrifice the cost of an unpopular move for the long-term goodwill of customers and a chance to win them over again.
V Street’s bar scored big time with Summer Gold, a supremely refreshing cocktail that streams several different drink trends into one tall Collins glass frothing with a tropical elixir that didn’t seem like an experiment at all. Amontillado sherry adds an almondy richness, while a splash of orange vermentino wine from Sardinia lends tannic grip, acidity, and funk, all the while keeping the alcohol level low. Ginger syrup flickers with spice. But it’s the pineapple “tepache,” a golden brew of fresh juice V Street ferments for two days over pineapple trimmings, sugar, and vinegar, that really makes each sip spin like a top over the taste buds. A rim of salt, meanwhile, cuts any residual sweetness and lingers as a final note, giving the drink a deeper savor. Sip it alongside kung pao spring vegetables, dan dan noodles with five-spice mushrooms, or the jerk grilled tofu, and I’m betting that drink will be gone before you’ve cleared your plate.
— Craig LaBan