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Behind The Stick: Looking Beyond The Classics At Karyn's On Green

By Paul Leddy in Food on Nov 15, 2013 4:30PM


The words "vegan restaurant" often conjure up images of wheat grass juice and unidentifiable entrées the shape and consistency of a hockey puck. With the exception of the recent vegan menu at Next, the idea of vegan food being served at a higher level and in a more upscale environment is something of a oxymoron. Karyn's on Green takes that perception of vegan food and flips it on its head. The restaurant serves inventive vegan cuisine in a stylish space that is serene yet exciting at the same time.

Just because you are eating vegan food doesn't mean you have to drink wheat grass with your meal. Michael Dziedzic is the beverage director at Karyn's and offers a wide variety of spirits, wine, beer and cocktails. Not surprisingly, most are from smaller, organic and local producers.

While the restaurant offers a Manhattan menu, Dziedzic likes to move away from just riffs on classic cocktails. He hopes that bartenders can create their own style that is a departure from the classics and create their own rules through combinations of different spirits.

A perfect example of this is in today's video. Dziedzic makes a drink called the Baya Rosa that uses tequila. Instead of adding citrus during the construction of the drink like you would in a margarita, he omits the citrus juice completely and turns it into a stirred cocktail.

When he found it difficult to procure vanilla bitters, he decided to infuse malört (actually, Bäska Snaps, an aquavit and wormwood liqueur made by New Orlean’s-based Bitterman's) with vanilla beans to get the flavors he was looking for.

Dziedzic also uses a pink peppercorn syrup (made with a few black peppercorns as well) to help round out the flavors in the cocktail. “I wanted to have people’s palates pick up something other than floral and vanilla notes,” Dziedzic explains. "I wanted something to prick the tongue."

Baya Rosa

2 ounces Fortaleza Blanco Tequila
1/2 ounce Pink Peppercorn Syrup
1/4 ounce St. Germain
Vanilla-infused Malort
Orange Peel
Black Pepper

Add first 3 ingredients to a mixing glass, add ice and stir. Rinse a cocktail glass with vanilla-infused Malört. Strain the cocktail into the glass. Express the oils from the orange peel and add a grind of black pepper.

Michael Dziedzic (Karyn's on Green) - Baya Rosa Cocktail from Chicago Cocktail Chronicles on Vimeo.

Karyn’s on Green is located at 130 S. Green St.