Shades of Scheherazade, Kismet and Lawrence of Arabia. If your magic carpet hasn't taken you to such realms, you can still get there via Open Sesame's jallab cocktail. As you drink, you'll breathe in the alluring scents of rose water, orange blossom water and incense as if you had been transported from Open Sesame's bar to a sultan's palace. The exotic look of the restaurant, which opened in L. A. recently, will convince you this is no illusion.
What works the magic is jallab syrup from Lebanon, a thick, sweet blend of grape molasses, rose water and sugar with hints of musk and amber. In the Middle East, jallab is a refreshing non-alcoholic drink served over crushed ice. Open Sesame, which is Lebanese, has that version too. It's diluted with water, given an extra dash of rose water, garnished with pine nuts and almonds and served with a spoon to scoop up the nuts.
In Anaheim's Little Arabia, restaurants serve jallab at dinners that break the daily fast for Muslims during the month of Ramadan. There's no alcohol in that drink, as observant Muslims avoid intoxicants. But Open Sesame slips both gin and apricot liqueur into its cocktail, an established hit at its first location in Long Beach and now bringing the Arabian Nights to Beverly Boulevard's restaurant row.
From: Open Sesame
Note: Several brands of jallab syrup are available in Middle Eastern markets.
Makes: 1 drink
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) lime juice
1/2 ounce (1 tablespoon) apricot liqueur
¾ ounce (1 ½ tablespoons) jallab syrup
1/4 oz (1 1/2 teaspoons) orange blossom water
2 ounces Tru organic gin
1 dried Turkish apricot
1. Combine the lime juice, apricot liqueur, jallab syrup, orange blossom water and gin in a cocktail shaker.
2. Add ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass and add ice. Garnish with a dried Turkish apricot.
Read more from Barbara Hansen at TableConversation.com, EatMx.com, @foodandwinegal and Facebook. Want more Squid Ink? Follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook.