I first met Jon Christiansen when he gave Monsoon East’s bar program an impressive overhaul last year—one that resulted in barrel-aged cocktails, carbonated coolers, and ice artistry. Since then I have encountered him making drinks at last year’s Modernist Cuisine dinner (and those guys don’t mess around) and taking the people’s choice award at one of our bartender competitions this past summer. He’s an unapologetic spirits nerd who is also unapologetically candid about said nerdery. I enjoy both of these qualities.
These days Christiansen has been busy designing a bottled cocktail program for the Monsoon to the west. On Monday the Capitol Hill Vietnamese restaurant will debut three prebatched and bottled drinks of Christiansen’s creation.
This approach, he says, is a nice way to combine a current drinking trend with the logistical limitations of physical space, staffing, and running a bar program from the other side of a large lake: “No repartee with the bartender,” he laments, but the tradeoff is that these drinks are “more complicated than most neighborhood bars would want to take time for.”
Each one is about $8 or $9 and comes in a Champagne split-type bottle. There’s the Queen Charlotte—a citrusy mix of Lillet Blanc, grüner veltliner (a peppery white wine I can’t get enough of), crème de violette, and orange bitters. Or perhaps the nutty honeybush fizz, made with tea-infused sherry, crème de peche, lemon, and Dolin Blanc vermouth. And finally a take on the fizzy Americano: Cocchi Americano, Aperol, absinthe, Gentiane (an aperitif made with gentian), and a wee bit of licorice-tasting Pastis.