While filming the Off Menu Chicago episode we spent a fair amount of time at the ramen shop, Yusho, in the Logan Circle area. Though the food might come across as simple Japanese comfort food, it's anything but. You see, the chef-owner, Matthias Merges, worked with Charlie Palmer and he brings that Michelin-starred refinement to the food. But, what we kept enjoying while there? The cocktails on tap that were every form of interesting from calamansi this to yuzu that. This Sparkling Yuzu Lemonade is loosely inspired by their cocktails but, with lemongrass, yuzu, and clementines, we think it would do Matthias proud.
rough leaves removed, ends trimmed, and stalk sliced crosswise
For the lemongrass simple syrup: Combine the water, sugar or honey, and lemongrass in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When it boils, stir until the honey dissolves then set aside until the syrup tastes like lemongrass and is cool, about 10 to 30 minutes. Strain off lemongrass, discard, and set syrup aside.
For the drink: Combine vodka, 1 ounce simple syrup, clementine, mandarin, or tangerine juice, and yuzu in a cocktail shaker. Add enough ice to fill the shaker halfway, close the top, then shake until cold, about 15 seconds.
Place a few ice cubes in a tall glass, add the clementine, mandarin, or tangerine slices, then strain the cocktail mixture into the glass. Top with a splash of club soda or ginger beer and serve.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp