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Image: Stefan Milne

I took my troubles down to Madame Rue / you know that gypsy with the gold-capped tooth / she’s got a pad down on 34th and Vine / selling bottles of Love Potion No. 9

So begins the Clovers’ “Love Potion No. 9” and Quoin bar manager Joe Friderici’s Madame Rue cocktail. He was creating a Valentine’s drink and the song inspired his own aphrodisiacal concoction.

He uses a passionfruit and damiana shrub as base. Passionfruit for obvious, nominal reasons. Damiana is a chamomile-like Mexican herb that you generally need to hit an apothecary to find. Historically herbalists have prescribed it as an aphrodisiac.

El Jimador tequila and a Thai chili tincture, which Friderici makes from by steeping chilies in agricole rum, further heat things up. 

The Madame Rue's sneaky complexity makes it one of Friderici's favorites; the flavors build and shift—fruit up front, then acidity, heat, funkiness, a burst of heady cardamom bitters. It's simple and garnishless in the glass—fitting with Quoin's atmospheric minimalism—yet it keeps pace with the assertive flavors coming from attached restaurant Revel's kitchen.

Bittermens Tepache—a liqueur based on the Mexican drink made by fermenting pineapple rinds with spices—adds a bit more south-of-the-border funk, while Friderici snatched the cardamom and passionfruit pairing from The Flavor Bible, a culinary tome he's repurposed as a bar book.  

Tasting notes and food pairing aside, Friderici loves the playfulness of the drink: “I was born in Alaska, where craft cocktails don’t exist. Sometimes I go to the Smoke Shop and drink Goldschlager and a Budweiser. Drinking should be fun. I think sometimes in the modern day we’ve lost sight of that.”

Indeed, the libidinous libation gives Quoin’s staff an easy source of banter with customers. “People have taken a sort of cult liking to this drink. The tongue in cheek thing we’ll do at the bar—if it’s like a husband and wife—you can only have one or you know what’s gonna happen later,” Friderici says with a wink. 

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