Executive sous-chef Brooke Mallory may be working alongside Chopped champion executive chef Adrienne Grenier to create exquisite new dishes at the heralded restaurant 3030 Ocean, but that hasn’t stopped the self-described “drink nerd” from letting her creativity run free behind the bar.
The Ohio native began her career at the Fort Lauderdale eatery straight out of culinary school and then hopped around a few other Marriott establishments nationwide before circling back to the Sunshine State. Her interest in spirits began in Cleveland, where the restaurant she worked at asked its bartenders to participate in a bloody mary competition. Nobody wanted to do it, so Mallory stepped up to the challenge.
“I started by making my own bloody mary mix from scratch: Fresh tomatoes and jalapeños were in there. I also infused the vodka with bacon and black peppercorns. I was surprised, because it was actually really good. And so it just kind of went on from there.”
But she didn’t win the competition. “It was for bartenders only, and everyone was using traditional bloody mary mixes. Mine was a little bit different.” From there, she continued to experiment in Dallas. “We had a craft bar with over 100 different tequilas, so we were doing stuff with that.”
Mallory has been at 3030 Ocean since November 2015 and again finds herself immersed in the world of drinks on a bit of a dare, when mixologist Bradley Duffie asked her if she’d ever made an allspice dram. Having never heard of it, she researched late into the night and returned to make it for him the next day.
3030 Ocean's Happy Sac cocktail
Photo by Michael Pisarri
She explains that the process for the simple liqueur begins with soaking the toasted berries in 100-proof rum with cinnamon. “It’s called rich syrup, so it’s a very sugary simple syrup made with brown sugar, which enhances the molasses part of it.”
From there, Mallory decided she wanted to make her own bitters, a process that takes about a month and a half and involves using a spirit base infused with roots, herbs, leaves, and whole spices such as cinnamon bark, nutmeg, or allspice berries. “Right now, I have four going on in the back: orange, apple, cherry, and root beer.” She’s got her eye on a Florida-themed key lime bitter next. Each batch produces about two and a half cups, but only a couple of drops are needed to transform a drink.
3030 Ocean is still pairing her newly made bitters with its cocktails, but for now, you can find the restaurant’s popular Harbor Beach old-fashioned with Mallory’s orange bitters.
Another favorite new drink showcasing Mallory’s signature touch is the Happy Sac, which is made with her in-house oleo saccharum, something that sounds like it belongs on an anatomy diagram (you decide where) but is actually a fashionable ingredient used to add an extra punch to cocktails. The word literally translates to “oily sugar” and has made a comeback from when it was popularly used in mid-19th-century bartending. The process is simple: Infuse sugar with the rind of citrus. No heat is added — the oils in the citrus break down the sugar and really intensify the flavor. Mallory’s orange oleo saccharum, used in the Happy Sac, also contains brown sugar and thyme. The cocktail also uses Ketel One Oranje, blackberries, lime juice, and crushed ice. “We muddle the blackberries in the glass first, then put a mound of crushed ice on top of that, so when you pour the cocktail in, it kind of marries with the blackberry and creates almost this tie-dye effect. It’s really pleasing to the eye. Then the flavor itself is great.”
Photo by Michael Pisarri
Mallory also created a grapefruit-lime oleo saccharum that's used in 3030's Paloma, which is very similar to a margarita but uses grapefruit instead of lime. And she's always coming up with more ideas.
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“I make a pineapple-cinnamon syrup that is used in another popular drink, the Gosling.” True to its name, it contains Gosling’s rum, fresh orange juice, lime juice, agave, and ice and comes garnished with a pineapple wedge. “It’s like a tropical drink without getting the umbrella.”
Shake Your Pom Bom, another new addition, mixes Bombay gin, PAMA pomegranate liqueur, lime juice, rosemary, and pomegranate juice, and the Kentucky Mule uses Buffalo Trace, lime juice, old-fashioned bitters, and ginger beer.
Asked what her favorite drink is, Mallory stops and gives a long, hard look at all the shiny bottles decorating the bar. “It’s a tossup between the Happy Sac and the Gosling.” Why settle for just one?