Paya spent five years as an El Bulli sommelier and worked as a Manhattan wine buyer before catching on with José Andrés in D.C. He said that at SLS, the kitchen and bar complement each other, sharing techniques and technologies to produce the most balanced cocktails possible.
Paya said their approach with The Bazaar’s brunch cocktails was to “put together a list of cocktails recognizable at brunch, familiar to everybody. Give them a trick to make things a little different. Make them beyond average, more sophisticated or presented in a different way.”
SLS is a wholesale account for Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea. As a result, Paya had the opportunity to collaborate with Intelligentsia’s Nick Griffith on a coffee cocktail. Griffith recently placed second at the United States Barista Championship, and for competitions, he must create well-balanced signature drinks.
Spanish Coffee ($14) is a variation on Irish Coffee that uses premium Spanish brandy (Duque d’Alba). Paya said they switched to Brandy because the liquor fits better with their Spanish theme and because, “It’s a much more delicate drink with brandy, softer, more integrated.” The martini glass also holds a mix of hot espresso and coffee sweetened with dissolved brown sugar, cold whipped cream, an orange sugar rim and an orange zest finish. The balanced cocktail delivers a remarkable textural and temperature contrast.
Cava Mimosa ($14) was an ultra-refreshing selection that served as a palate cleanser after the bold coffee. The Bazaar’s mimosa utilizes a different fresh-squeezed citrus juice each week. In this case: pink grapefruit. It’s topped with foam made from (and flecked with) the same citrus. Paya finished the sparkling cocktail tableside with a healthy pour of chilled Segura Viudos Gran Reserva Heredad.
The Bazaar’s Bloody Mary ($16) was recognizable as a Bloody Mary, but incorporated some innovations that took the drink to new heights. Paya said his spicy base is fairly traditional, a mix of fresh tomato juice, vodka, Worcestershire, lime juice, salt and pepper. To create the celery-wasabi foam cap, Paya loads wasabi-infused lime juice and parsley puree into a CO2 canister. The topper: Sal de Gusano, an Oaxacan salt that combines chile, worm and salt. That’s right, worm. “Gusano” means “worm” in Spanish. This drink has some real pop and a spicy finish.
To demonstrate the full extent of The Bazaar’s molecular arsenal, Paya concluded the tasting by preparing a Tableside “Nitro” Blood Orange Screwdriver ($20), made with frozen liquid nitrogen, blood orange and EFFEN vodka.
Paya poured from a thermos of liquid nitrogen and a bottle of pre-made cocktail into a mixing bowl and began to whisk as the nitrogen smoked, creating an alcoholic slushee. Paya finished the cocktail by grating on coffee bean and orange zest. He said they experimented with chocolate nib and vanilla syrup, but liked coffee and orange best. The refreshing, citrusy slush looked dramatically different, but still tasted like a best-in-class screwdriver. This was by design. “We changed the texture,” said Paya, “but I want you to recognize you’re drinking a screwdriver.”
In case you don’t want alcohol at brunch, The Bazaar also produces a very good House Made Lemonade ($6) that incorporates fresh-squeezed lemon juice and rosemary syrup.
The Bazaar’s groundbreaking brunch menu is seemingly limited, but every single item we ate or drank was innovative and delicious. You also have the option to turn the page and discover dozens of Modern Tapas and Traditional Tapas. The Bazaar clearly isn’t about limitations.