Mission Chinese Food’s Moonwalk cocktail, for instance, is made from mezcal, yuzu sake, kosho, citrus, and, of course, activated charcoal, and is sprinkled with “disco salt” (a combination of Maldon salt crystals and confectioners’ luster dust). Slowly Shirley in New York’s West Village has also created a showstopping drink dubbed the Perla Negra, a large-format, rum-punch cocktail served in a huge skull glass, topped with sorrel, and garnished with flowers and a burning candle.
Both Sam Anderson of Mission Chinese Food and Ray Sakover of Slowly Shirley acknowledge that the charcoal’s primary function is to create a deep black tone, and that the ingredient doesn’t really alter the flavor profile of drinks. That said, it definitely makes the cocktail experience more exciting. And while it’s important to note that health professionals advise against consuming too much activated charcoal, indulging in the occasional cocktail only turned our tongues black.