VeSu Cocktails Provide Multisensory Thrill

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VeSu, the upscale new restaurant in downtown Walnut Creek, features a largely original cocktail menu. These cocktails are on the pricey side ($10 for each, which is commensurate with VeSu's dinner menu), but their taste easily exceeds the cost, and each one includes distinctive features. On Tuesday night, we reviewed three cocktails off the list. Bartender Doug, who created the Ginger Lynn and the Hot Lips (among others) himself, helped us choose our drinks:

Ginger Lynn: Flat-out amazing. The Ginger Lynn joins gin with some memorable flavors, including fresh and fruity citrus. But the highlight of this drink is the spice mixture coating the outside of the glass. Combining ground basil and coriander with sugar, it added a textural dimension to the drink, with the choice to smell or taste the spice mix. Moreover, the herbs provide a deep foundation for such a sweet and fruity drink.

Dark and Stormy: This drink combines light and dark rum with a ginger beer. It hits the tongue with a strong, aggressive flavor, almost like an intense lemonade. The aftertaste is sweeter, "like a key-lime pie" according to my colleague. (Ginger beer, for those unfamiliar, is spicy like ginger, and it packs a serious punch.) The Dark and Stormy explodes with flavor, but it's a complex flavor with many intriguing layers.

Sazerac: At first, the whiskey is most prominent, but the aftertaste highlights the sugar and orange flavor. Indeed, the drink comes with a "flamed orange" floating on top. (Doug lit the orange on fire, releasing the citrus oils into the drink.) The Sazerac appears orange-yellow in color, and the subtle background flavors include absinthe and bitters. This was my least favorite of the three, but still tasty in a dry sort of way.

We also sampled some of VeSu's on-tap beers on Tuesday. Since I don't enjoy beer, I defer to my EBAC colleagues for these reviews: Jordan Hopstone, the sports editor, described the Old Rasputin Original Stout ($6) as "rich, but not bitter," with an understated mocha and coffee aftertaste. "It's not strong, and not in your face," added music editor Gary Jaffe. "You get the essence without any of the bells and whistles." Hopstone and Jaffe said that the Red Seale Pale Ale ($6) was also tasty.

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