New Drink Program at The Ramen Shop
Head bartender Chris Lane experiments to produce the Broken Flower and other out-there cocktails.
Like so many comfort foods in recent years—mac and cheese, cupcakes, beer*—ramen has put on a 21st-century dress and become one of the Oakland restaurant renaissance’s new party queens. Nowhere is the queen more tastefully arrayed than at College Avenue’s Ramen Shop, where, despite its nondescript name and signage, lines as long as the noodles themselves have spilled out the door every night since it opened. As of this writing, you’ll find frilly red mustard, King Richard leeks, and Meyer lemon ramen in the noodle portion of the menu, but don’t think too hard on it: It’s still comfort food if you let it be. And soon the bar will have bevvies to match.
Head bartender Chris Lane is expanding the Ramen Shop’s drink program to a much larger one that speaks to the same philosophy as the kitchen’s. The bar’s physical space is transitioning, too, from a waiting area to a place where you can sit and dine, or just enjoy the new libations. The new drink menu, which Lane—a prolific illustrator—is currently designing, will use fresh, housemade, and locally sourced ingredients, but won’t be overly cerebral: “Comforting,” he says, “but not simple. The idea is to have fun.” One example is this issue’s cocktail of the month: The Broken Flower. Lane didn’t like the Jarmusch film that much, but he loved the name back when he worked at the now-closed Wo Hing General Store in the Mission; it was there that he and the bar manager started experimenting with some basic tiki drink formulas and also with amaros. The resulting cocktail is as round and graceful as the coupe it comes in, yet as quietly pedigreed as the Ramen bowls it will be served alongside. The bitterness of grapefruit juice and Cynar artichoke amaro—not as minty as Frenet—support the sweet heat of El Tesoro Reposado tequila and housemade cinnamon syrup, and the lime juice adds a subtle tropical tang. It’s a drink fit for a party queen—the kind whose sophistication you don’t notice because you’re too busy enjoying yourself.
1 1/2 ounce El Tesoro Reposado
3/4 ounce Cynar
1/2 ounce grapefruit juice
1/2 ounce lime juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
1/4 ounce cinnamon syrup
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice for eight seconds then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Express the oils of a grapefruit peel over the drink and discard. Serve.
*It is so a food.