Dark Phoenix

February  9, 2023
3 Ratings
Photo by Food52
  • Prep time 5 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • makes 1 drink
Author Notes

When writing my second cocktail book, Saved by the Bellini, I took a completely different approach than my first, Drink What You Want. That first book was written as a primer into the world and structure of cocktails. I started with a core set of cocktails that represented the concepts I wanted to introduce to the reader: structure, balance, how to achieve aromatic complexity, and most importantly how to develop a strong sense of one’s own preferences.

I had to take a radically different approach when developing Saved by the Bellini. How do you explore a decade through drinks? And I’m not talking about drinks from the 1990s, I’m talking about drinks that tell the story of the 1990s. I wanted to capture the same feelings I felt coming of age in that decade through up-to-date drinks that would not be out of place on any bar’s cocktail menu today. Cocktails and works of art function on similar frameworks and some might say cocktails are an art form—and I would not disagree. Essentially, they’re emotional: They come down to the simple questions of how it makes you feel and whether you like it or not.

For this drink, I wanted to capture the feeling I had watching the Dark Phoenix saga unfold on the Saturday-morning X-Men The Animated Series. The saga tells the story of a psychic mutant, Jean Grey, who is possessed by an ultra-powerful alien entity and is transformed into a chaotic and destructive fiery red-and-orange being. The drink leverages the different densities between syrup (heavier) and soda water (lighter) to create a similar color gradient to the animated pseudo-deity.

The Ultragrenadine recipe is a bit of a kitchen task, but it keeps well in the freezer and is used throughout many recipes in the book, so you’ll always have an excuse to bust out this complexly-layered cocktail ingredient.
John deBary

Test Kitchen Notes

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What You'll Need
Watch This Recipe
Dark Phoenix
  • For the Dark Phoenix:
  • 2 ounces Ultragrenadine
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 3 ounces sparkling water
  • 1 orange wheel, for garnish
  • For the Ultragrenadine:
  • ¼ teaspoons saffron
  • 2 black tea bags
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup 100% pomegranate juice, such as POM
  • 1 cup 100% cranberry juice, such as RW Knudsen
  1. For the Dark Phoenix:
  2. Fill a tall glass with ice. First layer in the Ultragrenadine, then the orange juice, then the vodka. Top the drink with sparkling water. Serve with an orange wheel.
  1. For the Ultragrenadine:
  2. In a small, airtight container, combine the saffron with 1 cup of filtered water. Cover and let sit at room temperature overnight.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate small, airtight container, pour another 1 cup of filtered water over the tea bags. Let sit, covered, overnight as well.
  4. Strain the liquids from both infusions into a medium saucepan, discarding the saffron threads and tea bags. Add the sugar and both juices. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

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