The Ten Thousand Leagues cocktail by Sammy Faze of the Drinkingbird Credit: Cory Popp

Squid ink, often used to flavor (and tint) pasta and risotto, can be intimidating enough to cook with. Making a cocktail with it is another beast entirely. But Sammy Faze, a bartender at the Drinkingbird and Billy Sunday, was—well, unfazed by the prospect of the challenge, which came from Michael Tsirtsis of Oak + Char. Faze describes squid ink as having a “very strong, fishy, oceanic aroma” that he decided to tame by making a sauce with onion, shallot, and garlic confit, cooked down with tomato puree and then combined with squid ink.

Searching for a spirit to cut through the squid ink and the aromatics in the sauce, Faze chose a malted aquavit from Bittermens that he says “almost drinks like a rye whiskey.” It was a little too successful at masking the squid ink, though, so Faze used a little sake to bring back its oceanic flavor. A touch of lemon juice added brightness to the cocktail; for garnish he brushed a little squid ink onto a marigold to bring an oceanic aroma to the drink that he dubbed Ten Thousand Leagues. The finished cocktail is viscous and nearly black, and, Faze says, “you kind of feel like you’re at the bottom of the ocean.”

Ten Thousand Leagues
2 oz squid ink sauce
1 oz Bittermens aquavit
.25 oz lemon juice
Marigold and squid ink (for garnish)

“Throw” the cocktail: pour it from one tin to another with ice inside one of the tins to chill it. Place a chunk of hand-chipped ice into a glass and pour the cocktail over the top. Brush the marigold with squid ink and float on top of the drink.

Who’s next: 
Faze has challenged Brett Lichnerowicz of Luxbar to create a cocktail with freshly-cut grass.