Eater met with two dynamic beverage directors from 50 Eggs Restaurant Group. The duo, Allegra Angelo and Rob Ortenzio, handle all drink-related things at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar and are busy preparing for the upcoming Khong River House and Swine Southern Table & Bar openings set for November and December, respectively (and tentatively). Here, Allegra and Rob let us in on the development behind the beverage program at Khong and whip up one from the cocktail menu.
Allegra starts off by discussing how the cuisine at Khong is really setting the backdrop for the drinks: mostly coming from the Thailand, Vietnam, Laos region. Developing the food menu is Chef Piyarat Arreeratn (just call him Chef Bee for short), a Thai chef who has worked preparing exceptional Asian food at Nobu and Naoe before opening his own spot in North Miami- Oishi Thai. Plates will be simple, yet authentic and true to Chef Bee's roots, with a mix of spices and curries and a variety of meats. Khong's aim is to take Thai food to another level. Allegra says, "It creates a haven for doing a cool cocktail program. I've always wanted to work in a truly authentic Asian restaurant, and I think it'll be unlike anything here in Miami, and at an affordable price point."
The drink menu will be mostly clear-spirit based with a central focus on gins. The cocktails will make use of ingredients that represent Thailand: lemongrass, papaya, coconut water, coriander, tumeric, shiso, and homemade bitters and vinegars. There will be a couple moonshines, white whiskeys, and a few tequilas. Any vodkas that will be featured will be infused vodkas in house. Bottled beers will be from Asia, while drafts will highlight local breweries. Sake is nixed in favor of some less-cliché wines, which in fact, Allegra is excited to say it'll be "one of the best small wine lists in the area." While there will be some fruity whites and high volume reds, the focus will be on sparkling wines from all over the world: Austria, Germany, Italy, New Zealand. Sparkling wines pair well with spicy foods, and they'll be offered at various price points- think a great bottle at $50 and even some at $35.
Lastly, as the beverage program will be constantly changing, there will also be an "Element of Surprise" section where you can try totally unexpected wine with certain food items that are thoughtfully paired. There will also be a "Khong's Latest Obsession" page with a seasonally-rotated theme to keep things random and fun. Like a page of island wines, showcasing New Zealand, the Canaries, Santorini, Corsica, and the like, averaging about $10 by the glass.
Overall, the food and beverage concepts are more about achieving elegance through simplicity. The cocktails are full of flavors through fusion, but minimalist in the number of ingredients that go into a drink to be executable at a fast pace, as Rob and Allegra anticipate Khong being very busy. The upstairs will develop into its own, but it'll likely be a type of lounge where you can go to enjoy a great drink after dinner. That's still in the works and will be more clear as it gets closer to opening date.
Sample drink: The Sloe Gin Fizz. Made with sloe gin, London dry gin, house-made plum syrup, lemon juice, soda water, and topped with a plum garnish. Besides looking pretty, it tastes like a delicious plum soda- clean, refreshing, and sweet- something that would wash down some pork curry quite nicely.