Step right up: Most drinks don’t come with an instruction manual, but this multistep cocktail is worth the effort. As Todd Maul puts it, “You can get a Manhattan anywhere”—or in this case, a margarita ($14)—“so why would you come here?” For one, hospitality: The staff is happy to walk guests through the process. And originality for another. Here’s a breakdown of Maul’s unique take on the Cinco de Mayo classic. (1) Pastry chef Renae Connolly bakes a sugar cap with bitters and jalapeno. (2) After breaking the cap, guests inhale vaporized tequila, not a gimmick but a reimagined garnish. “It doesn’t have to be a piece of fruit,” Maul says, comparing the vapor to an amuse bouche that preps the palate. (3) A mixture of tequila, agave and Fidencio Unico mezcal flash-infused with urfa chile is poured over the ice cubes.
Taste sensations: “This whole drink is the idea of having bright and spicy coexisting in your mouth,” Maul explains. The Turkish pepper and mezcal both have a soft, slow burn to them. As you sip, ice cubes made of lime juice and orange Clément shrub slowly change the taste of the drink.
Down to a science: If this seems meticulously planned, it is. From the choice of glass—a snifter so hands influence the temperature and aromatics—to the rate at which the ice cubes melt (eight and a half minutes), nothing’s overlooked. Maul traces his approach to a lesson he learned while studying furniture making at the North Bennet Street School. “If my ideas aren’t filtered through me and my experience, I’m really just making bad replications. That’s how you should look at booze,” he explains. “You should be able to sit in a bar completely unbeknownst to you, and the style of drink I make, you should be able to pick it out.”
Cafe Artscience 650 Kendall St., Cambridge (857-999-2193) cafeartscience.com