Causwells partner Elmer Mejicanos has a creative mind for drinks. He shakes up cocktails inspired by Girl Scout cookies, mastered low-proof drinks at Red Window, and deconstructed a Pimm’s Cup with colorful, flavor-filled ice spheres. Now, Mejicanos is ready to debut one of his most complex drinks to date: the 30-Minute Soufflé.
The cocktail — inspired by French culture — mimics the rising action of a chocolate soufflé dessert. It also shares some DNA with the gin fizz, a cocktail for which he has a strong affinity since he has family in New Orleans, which is the home of the Ramos gin fizz. The resulting 30-Minute Soufflé cocktail mixes tarragon-infused gin with citrus flavors — but with the head of the cocktail being an edible foam on top. “I use somewhat of the same technique [as a gin fizz],” Mejicanos says, “but I wanted something more. I wanted to see if I could play with textures instead of just the mouthfeel of the drink.”
In some ways, this new cocktail solves one major flaw of the gin fizz: the head. In Mejicanos’s experience, most people drink the liquid and ignore the head, leaving it behind as it sinks to the bottom of the glass. With the 30-Minute Soufflé, the customer consumes the head first — and that’s by design. It gives the consumer a full picture of the whole drink and results in less waste. “You always put all this work and effort into eggs, cream, lemon, and all this stuff, and shake it for 17 hours,” Mejicanos jokes, “and then you put it in and they don’t even drink it, it’s at the bottom of the glass — at that point I should have just made you a gin and tonic with a splash of lemon and lime and call it a day.”
The main base of the soufflé is the tarragon-infused gin, giving it an anise, almost absinthe-like flavor, which Mejicanos says goes well with citrus. In-season citrus gets cold-pressed into a juice, strained, and set aside. Separately, he makes a sweetener with honey, along with lemon and lime. “We basically use every citrus you could think of,” he says. The various elements are then combined with cream and egg whites in a KitchenAid for three to five minutes to give it a certain, thick texture. Each batch makes 10 drinks, and the team only makes 20 drinks a day.
As for the 30 minutes: to achieve the cocktail’s final texture, the whipped mixture is placed into glasses and thrown into a freezer for 15 minutes. This freezes the head, or soufflé top, at the top of the glass. Meanwhile, the drink begins to separate, with the liquid collecting at the bottom of the glass. After the freezer, the glasses are placed into a cooler to soften for 15 minutes, then it’s ready for service. The head of the drink is savory, Mejicanos says, and most of the sweetness is in the liquid part of the drink. To balance this, the top is dusted with powdered sugar before being served with orange, lemon, and lime microplaned on top. The soufflé is served tableside, and servers will create a hole through the head of the cocktail with a straw, then pour two ounces of a blood orange cordial down the center. As the cordial is poured from a French creamer, it turns a shade of pink and the head pushes straight up from the glass, like a soufflé. The scalloped shape of the interior of the glassware gives the head some shape as it rises. “I want people to see the effect of this thing just flowing all the way outside of the glass,” Mejicanos says.
The drink is served with both a spoon and a straw, so customers can enjoy all elements including the head. “You just grab a spoonful of the top,” Mejicanos says, “and then you eat it like a soufflé. It’s basically a winter citrus semifreddo. So you [eat] a spoonful, and then you take a sip, and you have a nice little gin soufflé cocktail.”
The soufflé has been selling out daily since its debut earlier this month, especially given that the team can only prep 20 soufflés a day. Feedback has been positive about this drink, Mejicanos shares, and it’s just one of the new additions to the cocktail menu. Others include his version of the trendy carajillo, but made with ricotta salata — “think of the idea of a viral Parmesan espresso martini, but on crack,” he says — and his current favorite, the papaya and marigold punch. It’s all part of Causwells’ goal to be an American cocktail bar that takes inspiration from the melting pot of cultures. ‘“Basically every cocktail has its own idea and its own story,” Mejicanos says. “But they all fit into this grand idea of the New American bar.”
Causwells (2346 Chestnut Street) is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, and closed Monday.