KC Cocktail hour: Mustard Up

Photography by Caleb Condit and Rebbeca Norden.

What do you get when you combine yellow mustard seed, garam masala, tamarind, some fruit and Rittenhouse whiskey in a cocktail and top it with freshly shaved nutmeg? When performed by The Campground, somehow, the answer is a mellow yet invigorating punch destined for patio weather.  

The Jungle Lounge cocktail is a result of experimentation gone very well. Keaton Demoise, one of the bartenders at the restaurant, wanted to use both mustard and tamarind to create a variation of a whiskey sour.

When I ask how often the team works with yellow mustard seed when it comes to drumming up ideas for new drinks, co-owner Christopher Ciesiel replies “never.”

Through trial and error, rye whiskey was ultimately infused with the mustard seed. Garam masala and tamarind simple syrups were then combined with lemon, pineapple, amaro and a splash of bitters. The highball glass is overflowing with crushed ice and melts quickly as you sip on this punchy concoction.

The final product resembles more of a Jungle Bird cocktail rather than a whiskey sour, with the mustard providing more of a spice than a tang and the tamarind fruit cutting with its acidity. 

The abundance of spices should be powerful, possibly overwhelming, and yet the beverage is extremely well rounded, subtle and, dare I say, lovely and tropical? 

“It’s familiar, but it kind of leaves you guessing,” Ciesiel says. 

It’s sweet but not too sweet. Deep warm flavor from the garam masala is contrasted with a hint of pineapple juice. I imagined a kick or pungency in the aftertaste with the amalgamation of fruits, spice and liquor, but it was nowhere to be found. 

It’s clean and bright, but it won’t be on the menu for too much longer. The Jungle Lounge is meant to combat the sweltering heat, so if you find yourself begging for the wrath of summer to be over, just know your antidote lies in a tiny West Bottoms cocktail bar.  

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