Monday, February 8, 2010

Electric Eel Cocktail

"We’ve seen mocktails, Baracktails, and now: “shocktails.” Haru’s director of operations and mixologist, Keith Dusko, is pairing a new drink, the Electric Eel, with so-called Sechuan buttons (also called Sansho buttons) that he says create an “electric sensation” when chewed — “like putting a nine-volt battery in your mouth.” (Indeed, accounts of eating the flower bud support this.) The drink itself is a margarita-like mix of premium tequila, sake, and yuzu, but it’s the buttons we’re intrigued by. We’re sure Dusko isn’t the first to use them in a drink, but so far they haven’t gotten miracle fruit-like hype."

From NPR:
"It's a little yellow bud, and when you put it in your mouth, something strange happens.

"It's a reaction that feels "a little north of Pop Rocks, and south of putting a 9-volt battery in your mouth," says Keith Dusko, director of operations for Haru, a chain of restaurants in New York, Boston and Philadelphia.

"The plants are known in the U.S. as "Szechuan buttons," "sansho buttons" or "electric buttons," and chefs here have been experimenting with them for the past couple of years.

"Dusko uses them in two cocktails — one is a martini-like drink with a broken-up button rimmed around the edge of the glass. Rob Welland, the executive chef at Poste in Washington, D.C., is planning to debut an Alaskan halibut dish that integrates the button into a curry sauce.

"It's not just a flavor, it's a feeling," he says, "and I thought that was interesting to introduce into the cuisine."

"Michael Nestrud, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, says the plant, known as Acmella oleracea or para cress, has been widely used in South America, Africa and Asia."


  1. I can't decide if I'd want to try it--it seems somehow gimmicky. What do you think?

  2. Yeah...I know. It's definitely gimmicky. The drink looks pretty good. But I can't imagine going out of my way to try it.

  3. I can't help fearing that it would feel like the time I accidentally chewed aluminum foil.

  4. Yikes! That sounds painful. When did you do that?

  5. It was in Seattle, actually. I had a take-out sandwich wrapped in foil from that place in Wallingford that was new at the time--remember they had a Greek Villagers sandwich or something like that? Anyway, I took a bite and all of a sudden had a horrible pain in my tooth that was unlike any other sensation. It was the foil hitting a filling.

  6. Was it as Nicolas? (It's gone now.) OUCH, that sounds HORRIBLE.

  7. Yeah, Nicolas. I liked their tangy sauce. But they gave me a fear of foil.

    You know, I had a similar mishap as a kid with a take-out Sicilian pizza. I started eating it and suddenly had a terrible pain in my throat. Turns out I'd swallowed a toothpick they'd put in to keep the box top from touching the pizza. It was lodged sideways, I guess. Just as my mother was telling me to get my coat for the trip to the ER I swallowed it. Luckily I had no problems at the other end.

  8. :D Oh no!! Those are funny but also scary stories! I'm glad you didn't have to go to the ER.

    I don't have any good food emergency stories, but Guy's mom had a good one. She was in a steak restaurant when this guy at another table started choking and turned blue. She leapt into action and ran over and gave him the Heimlich maneouver, and the piece of steak that was lodged in his throat came flying out.

    The weird part about the story is that he didn't thank her! I can *almost* understand that--maybe he was in shock. But they left and then a few minutes later CAME BACK to get the rest of their meals (to take home). That part seemed strange!

    Maybe they were just really embarrassed. I think I would thank the person who saved my life, though!