A growing number of bartenders are experimenting with kombucha—that fizzy fermented tea tonic extolled as a wellness elixir. While most are using kombucha to add a naturally sweet-tart flavor and a touch of fizz to drinks, one chef has a more ambitious agenda: using kombucha to replace citrus entirely.
At Niche restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri, owner Gerard Craft has set an initiative for all ingredients to be 100 percent Missouri sourced (more on that here). That means no sugar and no citrus—two key components in most successful cocktails.
Instead, the team at Niche is brewing kombucha in-house and using it to add acidity to drinks in place of tart and tangy citrus. "It gives the same brightness with a bit more of a spicy undertone, giving a much broader spectrum of flavors on the palate," Niche head bartender Joel Burton says. Along the same lines, Burton is making honey syrup with local Missouri honey in lieu of simple syrup.
Here's how it all plays out in an easy-to-make kombucha daiquiri: Combine 1½ ounces Plantation 5-year-old rum from Barbados with 1 ounce kombucha (ideally one with a citrusy flavor) and another ½ ounce honey syrup (at home, mix equal parts honey and hot water). Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a swath of lemon peel if you're so inclined (twist the peel over the drink and then discard it).
Although the drink isn't quite the same as the classic daiquiri made with sugar and lime, it's an earnest, quaffable interpretation with admirably high-minded intent. And although that Barbados rum is delicious, we're betting that finding a good Missouri-made rum is somewhere on Niche's to-do list.
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