History would have you pitying the carrot. It’s a vegetable more closely associated with cartoon characters than fine dining. In fact, it’s a staple of peasant food. To that point, snark master Will Rogers quipped “Some guy invented Vitamin A out of a carrot. I’ll bet he can’t invent a good meal out of one.” In “The Carrot King,” a Grimm fairy tale, a mutant strain causes strife between brothers. Dangle it in front of someone and it’s a symbol of unattainable success. And Mae West scorned them, proclaiming she only cares about how many it takes to measure her diamonds.
It’s hard to say when or why the carrot’s cultural fortunes changed. Maybe it’s thanks to the healthy, local-minded eating that took root when Alice Waters opened the trailblazing Chez Panisse in California in 1971. Maybe it’s the more recent proliferation of juice bars. Whatever the reason, carrots are definitely having a moment. Instagram confirms it. The vegetable has been hashtagged more than 3 million times.
Chefs have elevated them from the underground, as have some creative bartenders. Not least among them is Molli Rohland, bar manager at the Dial and the soon-to-open rooftop bar Blue Owl, both at 907 Main, a boutique hotel in Cambridge. The kitchen here is known for its continent-hopping cuisine — Philippines, Colombia, Ethiopia — and her cocktail list follows suit, incorporating global spirits in various ways. She found that carrot juice’s earthiness accentuates the bright, mild sweetness of Mastiha, a Greek liqueur made from the sap of the Skinos tree, found exclusively on the island of Chios. For a local link to the global, try the drink with Boston native Effie Panagopoulos’s Kleos, the world’s first premium Mastiha. As a footnote, Molli says if you don’t have access to cocktail ingredients, a dependable no-hassle springtime drink is Mastiha and club soda, spritz-style.
If a globally inspired cocktail is how history will document the carrot’s 2021 moment, then future drinkers and diners will look back inspired.
THE JUICE CLEANSE
Makes 1 drink
1 ½ ounces Short Path Gin (or any gin)
1 ½ ounces carrot juice
¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce Kleos Mastiha (or any mastiha)
½ ounce simple syrup (to make syrup: in a small saucepan over low heat, heat equal parts sugar and water until sugar dissolves.)
Fever Tree Ginger Beer, to top
1 rosemary sprig, to garnish
1. Pour all ingredients except ginger beer into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
2. Strain into highball glass over fresh ice.
3. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with rosemary sprig.
Adapted from The Dial