Jun 28, 2023 - Food and Drink

Taste Test: Silver Lyan's emu cocktail

The Emu Queen cocktail and side splash of emu pechuga.

The Emu Queen cocktail and side splash of emu pechuga. Photo: Anna Spiegel/Axios

An emu cocktail is the latest wild drink at downtown hotspot Silver Lyan.

Why it matters: London-based barkeep Mr. Lyan is ranked among the world's best, so if anyone can turn a tough bird into a tasty drink, it's his bar team.

  • Silver Lyan collaborated with local distillery Cotton & Reed to produce a rum distilled with emu neck meat — only eight months and three government approvals in the making.

Zoom out: Silver Lyan is housed in an old bank vault, but migratory paths inspired the new cocktail menu — birds, yes, but also Vikings, deep space probes and "salmon cannons."

Zoom in: The Emu Queen tells the cock-tale of Australia's Great Emu War of 1932, a battle between roughly 20,000 emus and the Aussie army in their migratory path (spoiler: emus won).

How it works: "Emu pechuga" borrows from Oaxacan mezcal de pechuga, where the spirit is distilled with a chicken breast for flavor and texture.

  • Here, rum is distilled with USDA-approved emu meat from Tennessee, plus fresh raspberries to mimic Australian riberries. The final highball is mixed with mezcal and homemade mulberry soda.

Thought bubble: I thought the cocktail would be meaty but it's bright and refreshing, with just a little more body (literally!) from the bird.

  • It's worth ordering an optional $4 pechuga side splash — you'll get nuances of berry, spice, and game that don’t feature strongly in the drink ($19).

Go deeper: If emu is too tame, try a flamingo-themed Kiwa Cocktail that our server described as: "shrimp vibes."

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