Nicky and I skipped out early on a Macallan’s tasting the other night and headed over to Ecco (part of Fifth Group) for some much needed Libatious Nature “research.” I’m always amazed at the seemly simplistic cocktail recipes at Ecco and how they yield surprisingly complex and unique results. I love seeing what new things they’ve created. We met up with Michael Erickson (marketing director for Fifth Group Restaurants) and Maura Carey Neill (365Atlanta.com). Michael put us in the more than capable hands of our bartender for the evening, Eric.
When I asked Eric to pick a drink and surprise me, he selected “The Spartacus.” Seriously? The menu challenges you to awaken your inner gladiator with this drink. I’m not sure I would have selected this myself, but so glad Eric did! I’m a single malt scotch purist of sorts, so the idea of making a cocktail with a single malt always causes me to shudder. It just seems blasphemous on some level. But I have to say that the blend of the Singleton Scotch (a round, beautifully balanced Speyside single malt)
with Cherry Heering Liquer was smooth, just slightly fruity, with the tiniest hint of peat on the back end. It was a guilty pleasure and may have been a bit too easy to drink! I can see getting into some trouble with this one and starting a rebellion of my own.
We all encouraged Nicky to try Ecco’s national award-winning cocktail, “Long Live The Queen.” This was my first drink at Ecco last year and it is pretty amazing. Bombay Sapphire, St. Germaine Elderflower, lemon, peach, mint. It is a beautiful garden in a glass. A perfect gin drink for someone who might claim to not enjoy gin. Well deserving of its accolades.
Maura, who had already indulged in a “Blue-Berry Yum Yum,” opted to try the “Malus Domestica” (fancy talk for table apple). This is a sweet treat of Menorval Calvados paired with Meletti Amaro and served on the rocks. The high-end apple brandy mixed with the herbal, botanical properties of the Amaro adds a complexity to this seemingly simple drink. Maura and Nicky enjoyed it, but it was a little sweet for me.
Nicky wrapped up the night with “Your Little Pal,” which just screams for an inappropriate comment. (Who comes up with these names and drink descriptions? Very creative.) “Your Little Pal” was a hit all the way around . . . as was the drink.
Bright orange, bitter sweet Aperol mixed with Nino Franco Prosecco created a delightful sparkling drink with many layers and a very slight bitter finish. Nicky commented on the hints of strawberry (probably the rhubarb of the Aperol) and the orange rind notes. Loved it.
If you haven’t explored a Fifth Group restaurant yet, you are truly missing out. Each of the restaurants has an exemplary cocktail menu unique to that location. The Original El Taco features quite a variety of handcrafted margaritas. La Tavola offers Italian style cocktails along with grappas, lemoncello, and other cordials. The cocktails at South City Kitchen (Midtown and Vinings) focus on the flavors of the South. Check them out at fifthgroup.com.