Main + Abbey's Keri Graham knows that the promise of a Creamsicle will turn most men into jelly.
By adding the Creamsicle to a pile of fresh berries on top of a decadently rich Creme Brulee, we realize that the pastry chef isn't playing fair.
"Creamsicles have a way of making adults feel like kids again," Graham said, showing a Creamsicle Creme Brulee inside the dining room at Hard Rock's fine dining restaurant. "We get to relive the summers of our childhoods by indulging with a seasonal dessert."
Main + Abbey's sweet treat go-to gal for more than a year, Graham knows how to turn shakes "boozy," while giving house-made ice cream an unusual buzz.
"Can you taste the stout in our chocolate stout ice cream?" she asked, while letting us sample a trio of summertime flavors. "It's really good."
Well, we definitely agree. Still, we generally prefer having drinks make us tipsy.
Luckily, Main + Abbey food and beverage manager Michael Hesebeck was on hand with a brand-new menu of seasonal suds.
"Beer drinkers will get a kick out of our Pacific Coast Dry Hard Apple because it combines apple cider with a Pinot Gris," he said, pouring a bottle of the aromatic drink into a glass. "Our gluten-free Green's Dry-Hopped Lager is so tasty that even people without Celiac issues will enjoy it."
While Hesebeck enjoys drinking beer during the summer, many Hard Rock high rollers prefer something stiffer.
This is why he's reinvented a margarita with top-shelf ingredients.
Main + Abbey's El Major is made with Patron Reposada Tequila, an orange-flavored Coinreau, fresh-squeezed juices, agave nectar and lime zest.
What, a margarita made without a mix? that sounds like something a rock star would do! OK, now we feel like rank amateurs.
Thankfully, Hesebeck was in a forgiving mood. Plus the man knows how to make a classic Old Fashioned in record time.
He adds Bulleit bourbon, Drambuie, some sweet vermouth and a simple syrup to a glass containing muddled fruit.
"The trick is to muddle it, not mangle it," Hesebeck said, while deploying a gentle touch. "You want the drink to look good as well as taste good."
With that, we decided to put Hesebeck to the test. If he had to pair Graham's Creamsicle Creme Brulee with anything, what would it be?
"Maybe, a nice Sauvignon Blanc or, perhaps, a Chardonnay," he answered off the top of his head.
Hmm, Hesebeck seems to have plenty of answers. But how are his prognosticating skills?
"Personally, I love gin," he said. "I'd love to see gin give vodka a run for the money in the clear liquor marketplace."
While Graham admitted to having a pronounced sweet tooth, Hesebeck said he's neutral when it comes to desserts.
"If I had a choice between choosing a dessert or getting a second helping of a main course, I'd choose the latter," he said, not knowing that Graham was within earshot.
After being given a withering stare from Graham, Hesebeck quickly amended his previous statement.
"What I really meant to say is that I love desserts," he answered. "The sweeter the better."
That was smart maneuvering on Hesebeck's part. You never know when you'll be in the mood for a Creamsicle.