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Celery salt calls to mind two things: Chicago-style hot dogs and Bloody Marys. "Growing up, my dad would always take me and my sister down to Maxwell Street, and he would get a Polish, and we'd get a Chicago-style dog," says Anthony Mitchell of the California Clipper, challenged by Crown Tap Room's Ryan Murphy to create a cocktail with the seasoning. "That's what celery salt reminds me of—classic Chicago."
Making a Bloody Mary seemed too obvious, so Mitchell settled on a hot-dog-inspired cocktail: a riff on the Vesper martini, made with locally produced vodka and gin and a celery salt reduction in place of the traditional fortified wine. His first experiments with the celery salt mixture were unsuccessful, he said; one with lime juice turned out too sour, and a reduction of sugar, water, and celery salt "tasted like an old gym sock."
Mitchell tried the reduction with beer instead of water—Metropolitan's Krankshaft Kolsch—and finally got a result he liked. "The beer gives it a nice malty characteristic that pairs well with the earthiness of the celery salt," he says.
He garnished the cocktail with a mini Chicago-style dog: a cocktail wiener on a tiny poppy-seed bun with all the fixin's—including celery salt, of course. And because hot dogs are best consumed at the ballpark, he named it "Hey Ernie, Let's Drink Two," a boozy takeoff of Mr. Cub's catchphrase, "Let's play two."
Mitchell has challenged Victoria Snider of Farmhouse Chicago to create a cocktail with canned corn.
Hey Ernie, Let's Drink Two
.5 oz beer/celery salt reduction*
1.5 oz Letherbee gin
1 oz CH vodka
Garnish: mini Chicago-style hot dog
Pour all ingredients except garnish into a glass, add ice, and stir until cold. Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a mini Chicago-style hot dog: a cocktail wiener on a poppy-seed bun, topped with a spear of cornichon, mustard, onions, pickle relish, a sport pepper, a slice of cherry tomato, and celery salt.
*Reduction: Pour 12 ounces of Krankshaft kolsch into a saucepan, and reduce over low heat for an hour. Remove from heat and add six ounces of sugar, six tablespoons of celery salt, and two tablespoons of celery seed. Let cool, then strain.