Pickled plums don’t find their way onto many menus around here—least of all cocktail menus. But the salty, tangy, crunchy garnish is a favorite of Rainbow Chinese Restaurant and Bar owner and chef Tammy Wong. “It reminds me of my childhood,” she says, spooning a few deep-fuchsia wedges into her water glass. “This is a unique way to make plums. But more and more people are liking to eat pickled things—and put them in drinks.”
Although Tammy personally doesn’t drink much, she thought perhaps the preserved fruit would inspire her bartender, Jimmy Vongsouvanh. She was right.
Song for Mona uses Japanese plum wine as its base and builds from there, adding a little sparkle with cava, tang from housemade sweet and sour (that’s right: sweet and sour, as in the sauce commonly associated with stir-fry chicken), freshness from just-picked mint, and zing from a slice of pickled plum.
The sweet-tart beverage pairs well with fried food (like, say, Tammy’s famous egg rolls) and savory bites like the lemongrass chicken meatballs on Rainbow’s new happy-hour menu. It’s a taste of summer as autumn rushes in—a crisp, colorful reminder of warmer days gone by.
Song for Mona
- 2 ounces Choya Ume plum wine
- 1 ounce housemade sweet and sour
- 3 ounces cava
- Lemon wedge
- A few dashes of angostura bitters
- Sprig of fresh mint
- Slice of pickled plum
- Squeeze juice from a 1/8th lemon wedge into a red wine glass.
- Fill glass with ice.
- Pour in plum wine, sweet and sour, and cava.
- Sprinkle in a few dashes of angostura bitters.
- Garnish with mint and plum slices.
For sweet and sour, combine equal amounts simple syrup and fresh-squeezed lemon juice (be sure to strain out the pulp).
For pickled plums, buy plums that are firm, not ripe, and cut them into thin half-moon slices. Cover the slices with equal parts sugar and salt and mix well. Cover in a jar and let them ferment at room temperature for three to four days. Refrigerate after to make them last longer.