Features 2 minutes 17 January 2024

Le Jardinier Ups the Ante on Dry January

One writer goes alcohol free at a One MICHELIN Star's exclusive tasting.

Le Jardinier, a One MICHELIN Star located in Midtown Manhattan, teamed up with non-alcoholic aperitif company Everleaf to get diners excited about Dry January.

To kick off the partnership, the restaurant hosted an intimate three-course dinner paired with alcoholic-free beverages, previewing glimpses of the Seasonal Expression Dinner Tasting Menu.

First Course

The cured hiramasa dish with jicama, avocado and grapefruit was a bright and refreshing way to kick off the meal, and it paired well with the Ever Spritz NA cocktail, a mix of Everleaf Mountain and Marine served as a spritz. Other options included a burrata dish with blood orange, green olives and basil or a roasted leeks dish with black truffle vinaigrette, hazelnuts, and egg.

Alexis Benveniste
Alexis Benveniste

Second Course

The second course options ranged from a Carolina Gold rice risotto to an Ora King salmon or a Wagyu bavette. I chose the Ora King Salmon, which was served on top of a cauliflower puree with grilled cauliflower, roe, a relish-like garnish, crispy salmon skins, and a yuzu vinaigrette. The Ever Fall drink that was paired with this course was a cocktail that included Everleaf Forest, chamomile, pear, lemon, and a ginger candy garnish.

Alexis Benveniste
Alexis Benveniste

Third Course

The dessert course was a delicious and innovative take on crème brulée. The dish was a Valrhona Guanaja dark chocolate crémeux with salty caramel sabayo. To tie the flavors together and wrap up the meal seamlessly, it was paired with neat Everleaf Mountain that was served as a digestif.

While this meal doesn’t present the full picture of the Seasonal Expression Dinner Tasting Menu, it provided a glimpse into what diners can expect if they opt to enjoy it for themselves during the month of January. The $195 five-course meal focuses on winter ingredients and can be paired with Everleaf mocktails for an additional $55. 

“For this menu in particular, we conducted a tasting with Everleaf’s three expressions – Mountain, Marine, and Forest – and in combination with what we knew was available from the market, used the flavor profiles we discovered to brainstorm and create the pairing,” Le Jardinier Executive Chef, Andrew Ayala said, reflecting on his experience.

Alexis Benveniste
Alexis Benveniste

Here’s a look at the full menu:

First course:
Dish: Cured Hiramasa, Grapefruit, Jicama, Royal Kaluga Caviar
N/A Cocktail: "Ever Spritz" (Everleaf Mountain and Marine served in a spritz style with NA champagne)

Second course:
Dish: Savoy Cabbage "Lasagna," Celery Root, Hazelnuts, Black Truffle
N/A Cocktail: "Cucumber Leaf" (Everleaf Marine, vanilla syrup, cucumber juice, yuzu, and lemon)

Third course:
Dish: Poached Maine Lobster, Creamy Polenta, Coraline Bisque
N/A Cocktail: "Ever Fall" (Everleaf Forest, pear purée, chamomile syrup, lemon juice, and candied ginger)

Fourth course:
Dish: Long Island Crescent Duck, Roasted Salsify, Kumquats
Cocktail: "Lever" (Everleaf Mountain, raspberry puree, cherry, lemon)

Fifth course:
Dish: L'Orange, Chocolate Genoise, Grand Marnier Orange Cream, Kumquat Compote
Cocktail: Neat Everleaf Forest served as a digestif

Alex Stanlinoff
Alex Stanlinoff

It’s worth noting that the concept of pairing a tasting menu with mocktails isn’t very common. “We really want people to appreciate that alcohol doesn’t have to play a part in a perfect food and drink pairing,” Paul Matthew, Everleaf’s founder with a background in bartending and conservation biology, said. “You would expect an amazing vegetarian dish at an amazing restaurant, so why not an amazing NA drink at a venue with great drinks?”

Matthew is excited about the partnership and hopes it extends beyond January. “We would love this to be the start of something longer-term,” he said, adding that the Everleaf team is focusing on “building something that has longevity.”

Alex Stanlinoff
Alex Stanlinoff

With that in mind, opting for a non-alcoholic option over a glass of wine is becoming more common throughout the year – not just in January. “This partnership was inspired by a number of external factors including a rising demand for inclusive beverage options, health-conscious lifestyles, and evolving innovation in the food and beverage landscape,” Le Jardinier’s Assistant General Manager Firoella Vasquez said. And shifting to non-alcoholic options doesn’t limit creativity. “It’s absolutely possible to get just as creative with non-alcoholic cocktail choices as with alcoholic beverages,” she said, adding that creativity in mixology is not limited to the presence of alcohol.

Ready to dive into the culinary experience for yourself? I don’t blame you, and Chef Ayala is ready for you. In fact, he’s most excited for people to try the Savoy Cabbage “lasagna,” which is paired with the Cucumber Leaf cocktail – a combination of Everleaf Marine, green apple juice, vanilla syrup, cucumber, yuzu and lemon. “I love giving vegetables the center stage,” he said, “and the sweet and acidic flavors of the cocktail pair really well with the winter vegetables and the umami of the truffle in the dish.”

Hero image: Alex Stanlinoff

Keep Exploring - Stories we think you will enjoy reading