At Hopgood’s Foodliner, Jenny-Orenda Smith’s cocktail brings wine lovers and spirits lovers together. (Just don’t think too much about that one particular ingredient.)
Cocktail: The Latin Whey
$12 at Hopgood’s Foodliner (325 Roncesvalles Ave., #RON)
When Jenny-Orenda Smith first started selling her Pisco Sour–reminiscent cocktail at Hopgood’s Foodliner, it was all by word of mouth: The new drink was announced to diners along with the soup du jour. In the beginning, sales were brisk. “Then we put it on the menu,” Smith says, “and realized it really needs to be explained in person.”
That’s because it became clear that her drink—a wine-forward, slightly astringent, sophisticated cocktail—was not the “Latin Way,” but rather the “Latin Whey,” made with the unusual addition of, yes, whey, a by-product of chef Geoff Hopgood’s on-premise ricotta cheese–making activities. Hopgood asked Smith if she could find a use for the whey, since they’re conscientious folk who prefer not to leave anything to waste.
“I started thinking back to my hippie days and did a little research,” says Smith. “And I found out that whey is a beautiful protein that gives structure to a drink, as well as a tiny cream on top.”
“Cream” might invoke less-than-appealing cottage-cheesy images—the sort of thing that makes people wary of a whey cocktail in the first place. But banish that from your mind and think more along the lines of egg whites, which barely raise an eyebrow when they pop up as a cocktail ingredient. In fact, whey ought to make people less squeamish, since it’s not as thick and is free of that slight dairy odour that egg-based gin-fizz drinks sometimes have. Instead, you’ve got a perfectly restrained and citrusy, dry-with-a-hint-of-salt pre-dinner treat, lighter than the average sour and nothing to be afraid of at all.
Aside from unorthodox ingredients like whey, Smith loves working with grape-based spirits such as pisco and sherry, which meld together nicely in her drink and are responsible for its tannic quality. “I’m a wine geek at heart, so I try to make cocktails that are a justification for my drinking habits,” Smith says. “Since I’m going to spend the rest of the night drinking wine and don’t like to mix, I want to start off with something like this.”
Peruvian Pisco + Manzanilla sherry + Grand Marnier + Lemon juice + Simple syrup +
Orange swath + Whey