A Cool Summer Breeze
TaraChez Britton discusses one of Babalu’s popular cocktails, the Cat-5, the perfect drink for a summer afternoon
Story by Mary B. Sellers | Photos by Casey Hilder
Drink | June 2015
Babalu Tacos & Tapas is a breath of fresh air amid the barbecue joints and smoky bars of Memphis. The expansive bartop is usually packed with people either enjoying a cocktail or waiting to enjoy one. It makes a person feel just a little bit cooler, a touch more in step with a rhythm of hipness that is tangible and attractive.
TaraChez Britton has been with Babalu as a server, bartender and manager, and now she maintains the training program for the upscale eatery.
The original Babalu was opened in December 2010 in the historic Fondren district of Jackson, Mississippi. Their newest location in Overton Square in Memphis has become known for its cocktails, and one in particular stands out as a modern take on a Southern staple.
With a fresh, crisp flavor, the Cat-5 is the sort of drink that’s well suited for a warm evening spent on Babalu’s patio. “The creation of the Cat-5 was certainly a team effort, as many things are at Babalu,” Britton says. “It came about as we realized that we wanted our own local twist on a mojito-style beverage.”
The similarities to the mojito are certainly there, but this is in no way a carbon copy. Babalu uses local products in their food and drink, and the main ingredient in the Cat-5 is Mississippi-based Cathead vodka. “Its name came about because it is Cathead Vodka, plus five other ingredients: fresh lime, agave nectar, mint, club soda and bitters,” Britton explains.
Fantastic food, an innovative cocktail menu and the trendy-without-pretension vibe sets this turquoise gem apart from the rest of Overton Square, but Britton says her favorite thing about Babalu are the people. “To me, the best thing about Babalu is that it seems to create an environment where people are incredibly friendly, easily approachable and willing to share their time with us, just as we encourage them to share their food with their family and friends.”
So to parched patrons looking for a respite from summer heat, the Cat-5 is the natural choice for those who happen to breeze through. “If you were going to make this drink at home, I suggest making it in a pitcher; this way you do not have to work so hard to get your second round,” Britton says. “Or, better yet, you can share with your friends, as we so love to do.”
1.5 cups Cathead Vodka
3 oz. Madhava light agave nectar
20-25 Fresh mint leaves
3-5 Limes (cut into small wedges)
24 drops Angostura aromatic bitters
2 cups club soda
1. Add agave nectar, mint leaves, lime wedges and 1/2 cup club soda to a serving pitcher.
2. Muddle all ingredients well. (The goal is to get the juice out of the limes and flavor out of the mint without destroying the mint leaves.)
3. Fill pitcher with ice.
4. Add Cathead Vodka, the remaining soda water, and the bitters to the pitcher and stir well.
5. Pour into glass of your choice.
6. Enjoy and repeat as often as necessary!