[B]arista Parlor in Nashville is a modern coffee thoroughfare with classic bones. While the baristas don mustaches, bow ties, and canvas aprons, they serve up some of the country’s best coffees via cutting-edge machinery and brewing devices. The shop’s signature drinks get a similar treatment, and a seasonally rotating menu of traditional beverages given modern flair never fails to dazzle.
The Lamb’s Wool, invented by barista Evan Holder, borrows inspiration from a wassail, an ancient mulled cider tied to Christmas traditions in England. A cascara (coffee cherry tisane) and chai-spiced wassail is brightened with pineapple juice, and served alongside a balancing portion of vanilla milk. The two-part drink is an experiment in juxtaposed flavors, with the sweet milk providing an ideal partner for the tart cider.
“Splitting the drink into two parts was deliberate so that the sweet and tart components be tasted separately,” writes Evan. “When consumed by themselves there is a perceived imbalance of flavor. However, alternating sips between each component creates a sensational experience that reveals the drinks mutual dependence on its sweet and tart counterparts.”
Evan recommends sipping the recipe below warm milk first.
5 cups hot water
20 tbsp. cascara Tea
3 tbsp. chai Tea
3 cups apple cider
1 cup pineapple juice
¼ cup lemon juice
20 whole cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 cinnamon stick
Warm Vanilla Milk:
fresh ground nutmeg
4 oz. whole milk
5 grams vanilla syrup
Bring 5 cups of hot water to boil in a large pot. Add twenty tablespoons cascara and three tablespoons chai. Kill the heat, cover with lid and steep for five minutes. While the tea is steeping, combine three cups apple cider, one cup pineapple juice, ¼ cup
lemon juice, twenty whole cloves, one teaspoon ground ginger, and one cinnamon stick into a pot. After tea is finished steeping, strain and add to pot with other ingredients. Bring to simmer, cover with lid and let steep for thirty minutes. After time has expired, strain wassail mixture into a large measuring cup. Rinse strainer, line with cheesecloth and strain wassail mixture again, pouring into
the center of strainer. Let cool for ten mins. Store in airtight glass container up to seven to ten days in the fridge.
Steam 6 oz. wassail (approx. 130°-135°)
Pour into 6 oz. coup glass
Using channel knife, zest and peel lemon directly over the coup glass
Twist and curl lemon and place on edge of glass
Drop four cranberry bitters in shape of diamond on surface of drink
Warm Vanilla Milk:
Dose 5 grams vanilla syrup into 4 oz. gibraltar glass
Steam 5 oz, whole milk (approx. 125°)
Pour into gibraltar glass
Garnish with a dusting of fresh ground nutmeg
—Recipe by Evan Holder. Photos by Will Vastine.