As fans and critics alike know, where Next really excels is in its uniqueness, and this boils down even to their drinks. Every restaurant does wine pairings, so Next does one better by also offering some pretty awesome non-alcoholic drink pairings. Next Thailand blew us away with their drink pairings (including of course Cha Yen, which was part of the meal) so we jumped at the chance to try their Sicilian offerings. As usual, Next did not disappoint. For full coverage of the Sicily menu, check out our complete review post. This go-around the Next drink menu included five pairings for $48. Here they are in order, with the names from the official menu.
The first drink started out on a fizzy and sweet note, and was brought out with our array of little street foods. In addition to the three ingredients listed on the official menu, the drink also contained Meyer lemon. Fortunately while the drink was sweet, it was not too sweet, and was cut through by the carbonation (done in-house). Of the lot, this was probably M’s least favorite drink (too much carbonation), though L quite enjoyed it.
2. Zucchini and Mount Olympus Flower
The second drink arrived with our first pasta dish. According to our server, Mt. Olympus Tea, rather than just being an ornamental name, is actually a floral herbal tea from the Mediterranean (if it actually is picked off of Mt. Olympus remains to be known). The flower in the tea is Sideritis, and since we enjoyed it so much, we are pleased to find it is available online. We found this tea (served cold) completely delicious and enchanting, with hints of lemon and sage. Despite its billing, we couldn’t really detect any of the zucchini flavor notes. This drink was L’s pick.
3. Green tomato, garlic, white pepper
We deemed this drink the “garden drink” and it is not exaggeration to say it was like a drinkable caprese salad. The server also mentioned celery, garlic and thyme. This drink, not surprisingly, was completely savory and this cognitive dissonance was not quite to L’s liking, but M gladly guzzled the remainder of her drink. Our server noticed this and even brought L some more Mt. Olympus tea (nice work servers). M thought the drink complemented the swordfish quite nicely, and flavor echoed the herbal notes of the mint pesto. Fans of V8 or the like will be pleased by this elegant rendition of a veggie drink.
4. Fennel verjus rouge, orange
The fennel drink, served with our last entree dish, reminded us of after-dinner digestifs (you know the candy coated fennel seeds, Mukhwas, you sometimes get at Indian restaurants?). This drink, as you can see above, was shockingly magenta. The blood orange probably only amplified the color. Though we might have never thought to combine blood orange and fennel, the result was delicious.
5. Watermelon, white balsamic, pinor noir juice
The final drink was watermelon-pink, served over crushed ice in an old-fashioned glass, the only drink to not come in a wine glass. The primary flavor here – no surprise – was watermelon, though you could definitely taste the acidic kick of the white balsamic vinegar. The pinot noir grape juice was very subtle, and was definitely overwhelmed by the watermelon. We were curious that they chose Pinot Noir grapes since they are typically grown in the Northern part of Italy, not Sicily. The drink, which came with our desserts, was a perfect cool palate-cleanser for the end of the night. As you can see below, we ended up closing the place down!