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Fifth Floor Mixes High Design with Happy Hour

Fifth Floor Cocktails

Photo by Annabelle Breakey. Drink Me: (large cocktails, from top) Shaved black cardamom bespeckles the River Boat Gambler; the Dram on Mt. Tam is served with Togarashi (a Japanese seven-spice blend) on the rim; behold the Pony Express’ cocktail sphere, shown here perched above the drink on an absinthe spoon; for the rosemary-garnished Nanjo Flip, Means uses Okinawa yam syrup left over from Ang’s Sweet Potato Fritters.

You may eat with your eyes first, but at Fifth Floor—a restaurant known for visually striking New American cuisine—bar manager Brian Means and pastry chef Francis Ang make sure you drink with them too. Ang’s influence has expanded the mixologist’s palate (cocktails like the Okinawa yam syrup-laced Nanjo Flip transcend traditional bar staples) and has inspired a stylized approach to presentation.

Take the Pony Express, an aperitif of brightly acidic Basque Txakoli white wine, bitter Aperol, and spicy, herbal Sutton Cellars’ vermouth. But hold the garnish: In place of the typical citrus comes a red globular jewel. Think of it as an adult gusher filled with Pür blood-orange liqueur, fresh orange juice, pomegranate, and shaved cinnamon mixed with calcium gluconate and xanthan gum before being dropped in a warm water bath with sodium alginate. Submerged at the bottom of the glass, the sunken, spherical treasure remains solid until it hits your mouth, revealing itself in the drink’s final sips as an unexpected burst of citrus.

“You have one glass and one chance to wow,” says Ang. Consider it done.

This article was published in 7x7's April issue. Click here to subscribe.