The Secret Ingredient

Sometimes, a single ingredient inspires an entire cocktail. Such was the case last week when I visited the local olive oil shop*. As I was sampling the artisanal olive oils on display, I saw on the other side of the room, an array of hand-crafted vinegars in large silver urns. After trying a few, I came upon one that made my eyes light up and my taste buds do back-flips. Grapefruit-infused white balsamic vinegar! The pungent bite of vinegar with the tart sweetness of grapefruit. Remarkably smooth and balanced, yet deliciously assertive. And right then I announced to the woman who worked there, “I must use this in a cocktail!” After explaining to her that I was a mixologist and not a crazy person (that last part is debatable), I bought a bottle and then thought about it all day, this drink that had yet to be created.

That evening, as I was driving back from the grocery store, it came to me as a vision complete in my head, this new drink I had been mulling over the past seven hours. And when I got home, I gave the cats a pat on the head and then proceeded to the Mixology Lab (my kitchen), and put together the cocktail that I present to you now. After adding the garnish, I thought it was simply gorgeous. But looks can be deceiving, so I gave it a taste. I must confess, after the first sip, my eyes lit up again, and after the second, I blurted out to the cats and the gods of Mixology, “This is so f@#)*!’ good!” I thought about calling it that after repeated sips, but then, wanting something so delicious to be accessible to the masses, I settled on “Hella Good”. Enjoy! (And please check out the episode of KEVIN'S COCKTAIL MINUTE on the making of this drink!)

*Staunton Olive Oil Company

HELLA GOOD 1½ parts Veev Açaí Spirit Liqueur
 1 part Bulldog Gin
 ½ part St. Germain 
¼ part Grapefruit-infused White Balsamic Vinegar
 splash of Cointreau
 1 part Fever-Tree Tonic Water
 Shake everything but the Tonic Water over ice.
 Stir in Tonic, then pour into a chilled coupe glass.
 Garnish with a grapefruit peel.

"Hella Good"—"It's opalescent!" (photo by Ashby Wratchford)


Not only is VEEV delicious, but it's also a palindrome!

My cat, Newt, the guardian of the liquor supply.

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