The Betty & Gene is a weird drink that exists because somebody screwed up. In addition to drinks and pastries, The Rose Establishment makes some really tasty sandwiches and other lunch foods. Last week our chef, Matt Parks, ordered cheese from one of our food vendors and, for whatever reason, they sent us an entire case of fresh parsley instead. We don’t use parsley in any of our food and we couldn’t return it, so Matt got creative in order to use it all before it went bad. He made a parsley oil using a blend of canola and olive oils, and he told me that if I could find a use for it, it was all mine.
The most unnatural thing I could have done was to mix parsley oil with espresso so, naturally, that’s what I did. It doesn’t sound like it should work, but it does. After it’s all shaken together like crazy, the oil gives the drink a thick, creamy texture and just a bit of herbal flavor. The bitters brighten it up and turn the otherwise heavy drink into a bright, old-timey springtime sipper. I named it after my great-aunt Betty and my recently deceased great-uncle Gene, a couple who always were referred to as a single entity when I was a kid—always Betty-and-Gene. They are a classic 1930s couple like Nick and Nora from The Thin Man films, minus the murder investigation and intrigue. Because of those films, Nick and Nora have a cocktail glass named after them, and I decided that Betty and Gene deserve something like that. Thus, we have the Betty & Gene.
1 double espresso
1/4 oz. parsley oil
1/4 oz. simple syrup
2 dashes Scrappy’s grapefruit bitters
To make the parsley oil, put a handful of parsley leaves in a blender and add enough oil to cover. Matt used an 80/20 blend of canola and olive oil so as to avoid bitterness when blending straight olive oil. Blend until the parsley is finely chopped and the oil is bright green—be careful not to blend it too much, as the heat the blending produces will start to cook the parsley and deaden the bright, herbal flavor. Strain the oil through cheesecloth. Straining may take a while, so do this in advance.
Combine all the ingredients, including a small amount of ice, in a cocktail shaker and shake until you can’t shake any more—or until the ice is melted. We use six small pieces of commercial ice machine ice, but if you have regular-sized cubes, only use one or two. Shaking with only a few pieces of ice, known as whipping among mixologists, will help the oil emulsify with the rest of the ingredients and will introduce a lot of air into the drink to enhance its creamy, frothy texture. Strain into an ice-filled old fashioned or Gibraltar glass. Garnish with a sprig of parsley if you have an extra case of it lying around.
—Cody Kirkland is the bar manager at Salt Lake City’s The Rose Establishment.