As local bartender Gina Chersevani explains it, her collaboration with Peter Smith, the owner and chef of Chinatown restaurant PS 7’s, was long overdue.
Two regulars of the local foodie scene, Chersevani and Smith had been friends for a while and often discussed working together. Timing, however, was never right.
“We were always ‘dating’ someone else,” Chersevani says. “Whenever I was available, he was working with a different mixologist, and when he needed someone behind the bar, I was usually attached to a restaurant.”
Last month, the opportunity presented itself. Smith needed someone to help out with the cocktail program at PS 7’s and, this time, Chersevani, who was at Eatbar and Tallula in Arlington, didn’t pass on the chance.
Not that it was an easy decision.
“I decided to come here with a little bit of a heavy heart,” she says. “I love Talulla and EatBar and I’m good friends with my former boss, but Pete and I share passions—we always want to do something special—and so I knew it was the right decision.”
The two set about creating something fun and playful for the restaurant’s menu—a process that, according to Chersevani, was as focused on cocktails as it was on food.
“Pete and I have a very organic exchange of ideas,” she says. “We will go out shopping for ingredients together and then start with a cocktail and build a dish around it, or the other way around.”
The result of this collaboration is a seven-course tasting menu that pairs each dish with a different cocktail. The cost of the menu is $77 and tastings are held Tuesday through Saturday, upon request or reservation.
“We wanted to do something super special,” says Chersevani. “[The menu] is a pairing of palates. We’ve combined very different elements into something harmonious. Cocktails are great on their own, but they’re better with food.”
The menu’s dishes and cocktails are kept under wraps in a sealed menu. A teaser sheet is available, but cryptic phrases like “the sky” and “the breath” do little to clear the air of mystery.
“We want to keep an element of surprise,” Chersevani says, laughing. “The idea is that if you break the seal, you have to buy it.”
Chersevani and Smith plan on changing the menu regularly to retain said element.
“We’ve already got two new menus in the works for when word starts to spread about this one.”
We promised not to give too much away, but a cocktail you can expect to see on the menu is the First Frost. The drink uses persimmons as its base and combines gin with vanilla simple syrup and just a tad of black rice honey vinegar. Muddled persimmons are added and the mixture is shaken and then double-strained into a glass. The cocktail is topped with champagne and a mint leaf.
Watch the video of Chersevani making the First Frost below and make sure to get the recipe.
Gina Chersevani, PS 7’s
2 cubes of persimmon
1 1/2 ounces of Plymouth gin
1 teaspoon black rice honey vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla simple syrup
Champagne to top the drink
1 mint leaf