One of the most fun and most raucous events we attended at Tales of the Cocktail this year was a Spirited Dinner with the theme of "East Coast vs. Left Coast," where bartenders from both edges of the map competed for mixologist superiority.
Each course of the dinner was paired with two different cocktails as each bartender sought to whip up the crowd with chants and dances until the winner of the round was selected by applause and the blowing of kazoos that had been distributed at each plate.
The entry from a Portland barkeep was called a "Put a Bird on It." The recipe:
"Put a Bird on It" Cocktail
1 1/4 oz. rum
1/2 oz. Punt e Mes (an Italian vermouth)
1/2 oz. Rancho de Philo Triple Creme Sherry
1/2 oz. lemon juice
2 oz. Fentimans Tonic
A couple drops of Regan's Orange Bitters
Rocks with a big-ass ice cube
Garnish with a bird.
Fans of the IFC comedy series Portlandia will recognize the significance of putting a bird on it, because according to the show, in the Rose City you can put a bird on something and immediately call it art. The drink won its frame of the match resoundingly.
This got me to thinking. What are the culinary equivalents of putting a bird on it? What can you add to just about anything and make it better? My list starts out something like this:
1. Fleur de Sel
4. Thai basil
5. A poached egg
6. Crystal Hot Sauce
8. A bird
Help me finish the list. What are your secret go-to additions that improve your culinary creations?