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I'm a Spicewalla: Q Soemardi

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"For the Afternoon" by Q Soemardi (recipe below)
One of the our favorite things about seeing our spices being put to good use is the magic that happens not only in the kitchen, but also behind the bar. Modern day cocktail programs are implementing unique culinary techniques such as infusions, fat-washing, dehydration, and clarification. Q Soemardi is an Asheville-based bartender who has played a large role in redefining craft cocktails. If you've ever been fortunate enough to sit at Q's bar, then you've certainly been dazzled by his innovative approach to giving classic cocktails a modern day makeover.
Q says, "I’ve always cooked with spices and incorporating those spices into my drink making was a natural choice for me. Most often I’m looking for one clear flavor that will drive the flavors of a drink clearly to your pallet. I’ll use a spice to tweak a classic cocktail and push it in a new direction. In a recent drink, I simply infused fresh cracked Spicewalla Black Peppercorn into dry vermouth and used it in a classic Negroni structure to make a drink that popped with spicy flavor."

i'm a spicewalla: q soemardi of session cafe & bar

What's your name?
Q Soemardi


What's your personal IG handle and/or the IG handle of your business?
@qsoemardi @sessionavl @citizenvinyl


Tell us a little about yourself and what you do!
I’m a beverage industry professional who’s been working behind bars and in restaurants for most of my adult life. I love making simple beautiful drinks that have a clear idea and structure to them.


Which job title most accurately describes you?
Bartender / Home Chef / Spice Enthusiast

What spice(s) do you use the most in the kitchen?
At home I’m always using fresh cardamom, clove, ginger, and chilis in my cooking. Behind the bar I’m particularly drawn to big flavors that can drive the flavor profile of a drink, like chilis, peppers, and bitter roots and herbs.


Why do you think using fresh spices is important when it comes to creating delicious recipes?
The Impact! Nothing beats cracking a fresh spice in a mortar and pestle. The aromas and flavors are always much more complex and deep.


Describe the moment you fell in love with Spicewalla?
I was working behind the bar and we had just gotten our first order of Spicewalla spices and I needed a spice that would bring a clarified milk punch I was working on to the next level. Our chef had ordered black cardamom from Spicewalla and the aroma was unlike anything I’d worked with before. Musky, Smokey, rich, and fresh, it was perfect.


What is your favorite trick or tip when using spices?
Hand cracking a spice in something like a mortar and pestle and toasting your spices will always give you more impact and depth of flavor.


What is your desert island spice (if you could only choose one to use forever!)
What a question?! That’s tough, I think I’d have to choose clove.


What is a spice or blend you'd love to see from us in the future?
I’d love to see more bittering agents available. Roots and barks like gentian or cinchona, or bitter orange and lemon peels would be so helpful in drink making. It's always hard to source high quality versions of these spices and I like to use them a lot in my cocktails and amari.


Which Spice Girl are you?
Scary Spice

For the Afternoon

created by Q Soemardi for Session Cafe & Bar

ingredients
.5oz mezcal
.5oz blanco tequila
1oz Campari
1oz black pepper dry vermouth*

black pepper dry vermouth
20g Spicewalla Black Peppercorn, cracked
400g dry vermouth

Let sit for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Fine strain and keep refrigerated.

to assemble the cocktail:
1. Combine mezcal, tequila, Campari, and black pepper vermouth into a mixing glass and fill with ice.
2. Stir to combine all ingredients and strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice or a large cube.
3. Garnish with a dehydrated orange and a few turns of cracked Spicewalla Black Peppercorn.

I'm a Spicewalla

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