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Drink DuJour: Borscht Sour

On Super Bowl weekend, this cocktail from Riel in Houston definitely beats (or beets) beer

The Super Bowl may seem like the most American thing you could possibly do in Houston this weekend, but if you really think about it, paying a visit to Ryan Lachaine’s Riel could rival the big game. The newly-opened restaurant in the city’s Montrose neighborhood brings the concept of “fusion” to new heights—offering dishes influenced by Lachaine’s Ukrainian heritage, his upbringing in Manitoba, Canada, his current home in Texas and more. Some menu items: hangar steak with pierogi, tempura cauliflower, a Texas blue crab sandwich, Tourtière (a meat pie hailing from Québec), borscht and more.  

Just like the food menu, this cocktail program only makes sense in a country as diverse as the United States. The pretty and pink Borscht Sour, for one, pays homage to Ukraine by putting one of the country’s most traditional dishes in cocktail form. Borscht in a coupe glass may seem strange at first mention, but the concept works well at a time when the beet is among the trendiest of cocktail ingredients.

“We wanted to have the cocktail menu reflect the ingredients and inspiration on the food menu. Using Aquavit provides some depth and connection to Eastern European flavors that resonate in the cuisine of Riel,” said General Manager and Beverage Director Christopher Fleischman.

1.5 oz. Linie Aquavit
.75 oz. Lemon juice
.75 oz. Beet syrup*
1 Egg white
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 Dill sprig

Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain through a Hawthorne strainer. Dry shake hard for 30 seconds. Fine strain into coupe glass. Garnish with a sprig of dill.

Beet Syrup*
16 oz. Sugar
4 – 6 Beets

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cut the tops and bottoms off beets, wrap in foil and place on lined baking sheet. Bake beets for about 60 minutes until tender. Peel and chop beets. Place beets in blender with 10 ounces of water. Blend and fine strain the beet and water mixture. Measure beet “juice” and water to be 16 ounces by weight of liquid. Combine in a saucepan with 16 oz of sugar. Simmer until sugar is dissolved. Let cool before using. Lasts 7 days if kept refrigerated.