The importance of aroma is obvious to anyone who has ever attempted to eat while congested: when our sense of smell is compromised, much of our sense of taste goes with it. Given its significance, it is surprising that the aromatic component of most cocktails is an afterthought, often little more than a zest or peel of citrus.
This is not the case at Midnight Rambler, in Dallas’s boutique Joule Hotel. “Perfumery and flavor science are naturally connected,” says cofounder Chad Solomon. To this end he has built a high-tech flavor laboratory in the bar’s back-stage area, where aromatic essences are compounded from natural ingredients to create inspired cocktails.
Take the Blind Lemon Sour. Named for Dallas bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson, it was the first cocktail Solomon developed specifically for Midnight Rambler; after a long stint in New York, he’d returned to his native state intent on creating a drink with a distinctly Texan terroir. The Blind Lemon looks basic—an egg-white whiskey sour—but there is more to it than meets the eye. The spirit is Balcones Baby Blue, a blue-corn whiskey from Waco; the simple syrup is made from locally sourced mineral water; and the whole thing is seasoned with a saline solution. Finally, Solomon prepares an essence of Texas cedar and grapefruit, which is misted over the cocktail—a tiny bit of liquid that completely changes the nature of the drink.
It’s said that an aroma or flavor can bring back memories from deep in our past. It may be gratuitous to suggest that a cocktail has such power, but this is a drink you won’t soon forget.