Ilya Romanov and the Small Talk

Ilya Romanov is the beverage manager at Iris, a Japanese-inspired cocktail bar in San Francisco. 

Every cocktail idea we bring to light and find the courage to feature at our cozy Japanese-inspired artisanal cocktail bar is seldom a snapshot of an inspiration coming to fruition. I always seek unique ways to bridge Japanese culture and the abundant Californian bounty of produce to create aesthetically striking and flavorfully captivating cocktails.

During the warm summer months in San Francisco, I enjoy one of Iris’s creations periodically, strictly for quality control. The Small Talk is a Swedish aquavit-based cocktail with feijoa eau de vie (feijoa is a Brazilian evergreen shrub), organic strawberry shrub, unsweetened hazelnut milk, citrus and moscato. 

The inspiration for the cocktail comes from one of the Japanese staple soft drinks, strawberry flavored calpico. We use local ingredients and unique worldly components to recreate flavors and incorporate spirits in a playful and thoughtful way with quality and freshness always in mind.

The Small Talk is a tart and refreshing cocktail with a sweetness derived almost purely from Moscato wine. This is my pick for the summer months, and what I drink when an opportunity arises.

Small Talk

  • 1 ½ oz. Svol Swedish aquavit
  • ¼ oz. Feijoa eau de vie
  • ¾ oz. Strawberry vinegar
  • ½ oz. Elmhurst hazelnut milk
  • ¾ oz. Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 oz. Top with Moscato d’Asti
  • Combine all of the ingredients, except Moscato, in a shaker tin.

  • Add ice and shake for 10 seconds.

  • Double strain into a Collins glass with spear ice.

  • Top with Moscato.

  • Garnish with lime leaf.

Slap lime leaf first to release its fragrance, attach to the glass with a clothespin.


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