Folks, we’re pretty sure it’s almost summer, though the weather may suggest otherwise. With a dream of a resplendent Memorial Day weekend, we sidled up to the bar with our favorite master of intoxicants to find the drink that dream was made for. To our delight, Mr. Chris Lowder—mixologist at the NoMad Hotel and Amor y Amargo, and the NoMad’s Head of Bar Education—presented us with the breezy, refreshing, and totally summer-ready Paisley Daisy.
The cocktail known as the Daisy is both old school and, well, “fresh as a daisy.” Dating back to the 1860’s, it’s a kind of dressed-up sour that ultimately inspired what we know as the Margarita. (Oh, you didn’t know that “margarita” means “daisy” in Spanish? Well, now you do.)
But put away that salt shaker, friends. This is another ballgame altogether—and a cocktail whose tastiness veils complex flavors and storied components. Key among them is green Chartreuse, that enigmatic French liqueur made exclusively by Carthusian Monks. Using the same recipe recorded by François Annibal d’Estrées in 1605, this elixir derives its distinctive flavor and color from the 130 Alpine herbs, plants, and flowers penned in the original recipe. Only two monks at a time are ever privy to the exact formulation, presumably passing it on to designated successors on their deathbeds.
Despite the seeming solemnity of this component, however, the Paisley Daisy is nothing if not an easy sipper. A presentation that will both impress and refresh, you can pull this out at nearly any occasion from here to Labor Day, with invariably crowd-pleasing results. It’s just sour enough to feel like a tonic, sweet enough to be a treat, and with the velvety, lightly drying mouth feel imparted by the egg white, you won’t feel like you’re sipping a melted popsicle.
- 1.5 oz. Tanqueray 10
- .75 oz. Fresh squeezed lime juice
- .5 oz. Green Chartreuse
- .4 oz. Simple syrup
- One pasteurized egg white
- One long slice of cucumber
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake (without ice) to emulsify egg white into drink.
- Add ice and shake again for ten seconds.
- Use a hawthorne strainer and a fine strainer to strain cocktail into a chilled cocktail coupe.
- Add paisley decoration thusly: carefully drip small drops of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters into the foam at the top of the drink. Using a toothpick, lightly drag the drops outward—ever so lightly!—from their centers, creating small paisley shapes. Ain’t it lovely?
Chris Lowder is a rightly adored personality at the Michelin-starred NoMad Hotel, where he shakes cocktails under Leo Robitzchek (Eleven Madison Park) and also serves as the NoMad’s Head of Bar Education. Lowder’s team was the recipient of a James Beard Award for America’s Most Outstanding Bar Program and earned the NoMad the title of World’s Best Hotel Bar at the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards. Chris was also a Northeast finalist in the 2014 Diageo World Class global bartending competition.
Outside of the NoMad, you can find this talented gent at Amor y Amargo—a “bitters tasting room”—where he uses his expertise in bitters and esoteric spirits to delight patrons with cocktails that both invoke bygone drinking traditions and blaze inspired new ones.
A bar-and-restaurant lifer, Mr. Lowder’s New York career took off while working alongside food scientist Dave Arnold at the much-praised molecular cocktail bar Momofuku Booker and Dax. It was there that Lowder perfected not only classic cocktail technique and presentation but also ultra-modern approaches like working with centrifuges and liquid nitrogen.
Visiting town from the Far East? Well, pull up a bar stool, as you’ll also find in Mr. Lowder a conversation companion fluent in Mandarin and Japanese.