The Cocktail: Antivenom
The Bar: Corvus and Co.
The Bartender: Izzy Guymon
DRINK HISTORY Corvus and Co. co-owner, general manager and bartender Izzy Guymon (formerly of the Derschang Group and Percy’s, where he met Paul Berryman, Corvus’ other owner/bartender) has combined two historic and layered ingredients with a base of bourbon in the Antivenom. The cocktail—whose name is a playful nod to the bar’s animal theme—is savory with a hint of sweet. Carpano Antica vermouth, created in 1786 by Antonio Benedetto Carpano in Turin, Italy, is the oldest brand of sweet, or Italian, vermouth, and is renowned as both a cocktail ingredient and a solo sipper. (It’s made from a secret recipe, whose known ingredients include a blend of wines with hints of vanilla, citrus, dried fruits, herbs and spices.) A second ingredient in this cocktail, the digestif Becherovka, also has a long lineage. From the Czech Republic, it dates back to 1807, and has its own secret recipe—booze producers play it close to the vest. It’s a little stronger and more bitter than the Carpano vermouth, with ginger, cinnamon, clove and other spices on the tongue. The cocktail is an ideal pairing for the Levantine-inspired cuisine of Corvus chef Mac Jarvis (formerly of Ernest Loves Agnes): think delicious and spicy shawarma, and such treats as lush artichoke fritters with a creamy tahini aioli. This rich cocktail is also perfect for the winter months, thanks to its flavorful personality and the warming nature of the underlying bourbon.
THE TWIST While the aforementioned ingredients bring a whole host of flavors to the party, the final ingredient really sets the drink apart—whole crushed cardamom pods. A rare addition (I don’t think I’ve ever had freshly crushed cardamom pods in a drink), the spice instills a fantastic essence into each sip. It might sound overwhelming, but it isn’t—just a strong whisper of the spice flowing with other essences. It’s balanced drink artistry in action.
THE TOOLS While you’ll need to track down cardamom pods on Amazon or at World Spice Merchants (worldspice.com) near Pike Place (one hint from Guymon: Be careful how many pods you use, as different batches can deliver different results, so start with two and add more or less to taste), the Antivenom isn’t hard to build yourself. If you don’t have a lovely coupe glass, this can also be served in any cocktail-style glass.
THE AMBIANCE Animal-themed art accents the exposed brick and dramatic charred-wood walls—inspired by the bar’s original, somewhat controversial name, Spirit Animal. (Corvusis is a genus that includes crows and ravens.) A giant owl chiseled out of the plaster that once covered the brick wall is a focal point. The owl took them a month to carve, and that dedication to detail is shown in the well-crafted Antivenom. The establishment’s wood bar top, shelves and backsplash mirrors, single ceiling fan and fairly low lighting add to the casual artistic-cool vibe as well. Capitol Hill, 601 Broadway E; 206.420.8488; facebook.com/corvusandcompany
The Antivenom is served in a classically cool, widemouthed coupe
1 ½ ounces J.T.S. Brown 100-proof bourbon
¾ ounce Carpano Antica
¼ ounce Becherovka
2 cardamom pods (or more, to taste)
» Add the cardamom pods to a mixing glass or cocktail shaker. Muddle carefully and well.
» Fill the shaker or glass halfway full with cracked ice. Add the bourbon, Carpano Antica and Becherovka. Stir well.
» Pour through a fine strainer into a coupe glass. Garnish with the lemon twist.