Mercantile and Mash coffee director Michael Mai has a deep passion for coffee. Mai has spent his time in Charleston working for some of the best shops in town, like Collective Coffee, Black Tap, and the former Hope & Union.
For the fall menu at Mercantile, Mai wanted to bring something a little unexpected to Charleston palates. Here’s a rundown of the new drinks on the menu.
Winter Lemonade: It stays warm in Charleston until February, so an autumnal refresher with house-made cinnamon simple syrup, with equal parts water and lemon juice, shaken with fresh sage, and topped with freshly-grated nutmeg makes sense for a unique take on a fall drink.
Juniper Sage Latte (pictured above): Mai macerates juniper and sage to create a thick tisane that is rich with the gin-y fall characteristics of the herbs. This is mixed into espresso and hot steamed milk. A fresh juniper berry is crushed and rubbed on the rim of the cup, and the drink is finished with a spritz of house-distilled, garden-grown rosemary hydrosol. It’s a latte reminiscent of a really well-rounded cocktail.
Ryan's Egg Cream: By Mai’s admission, this is his "nerdiest" coffee drink, so we’ll let him explain it.
This drink is named after my cousin Ryan Arambula, whose mother is Jewish and whose father is Mexican. The traditional egg cream utilizes Fox's U-Bet chocolate syrup, whole milk, and seltzer. We replace the seltzer with a traditional Mexican tea called flor de jamaica, essentially an hibiscus flower tisane. Because the hibiscus imparts a potent tangy punch, nitrogen dioxide is infused into the tea instead of Carbon dioxide to circumvent the acidity associated with the creation of carbonic acid. This nitro-tisane is spritzed into whole milk and our cocoa syrup, which imparts a distinctly mineral-chocolate quality to the drink. The tea imbues the drink with an incredible purple haze and mixes with the chocolate and milk to form a drink that is at once fruited, slightly sweet, light, mineral-y, chocolate-y, and insanely refreshing. House-distilled hibiscus hydrosol is spritzed on top of the drink to increase the floral nose.
In our words: it tastes like the best chocolate milk a grown-up could drink.