Bartenders around the region have provided us with their best bets for holiday cocktails featuring gin, rye and bourbon — spirits that are now being produced locally by craft distillers.
Stephanie Hoppe, bartender at Pianeta, recommends a New York Sour, a “warming cocktail that’s a blend of bourbon and red wine with a burst of citrus flavor.”
New York Sour
- 1 ounce bourbon (she recommends Makers Mark)
- 1/2 a lemon, squeezed
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
Shake with ice and pour in a rocks glass. Finish with a fruity red wine float. Place a spoon over the shaken cocktail and pour the wine just enough to cover the back of the spoon. Hoppe recommends Malbec or an Italian red wine.
Teresa Loughner, bar manager at Hawk’s restaurant in Granite Bay, suggests a “fabulous cool-weather cocktail that’s filled with warming spices and reminiscent of spending time with family and friends during the holidays.”
Fall in New York
- 1 1/2 ounce rye
- 3/4 ounce spiced simple syrup
- 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 3 dashes angostura bitters
Stir and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.
To make your own spiced simple syrup, Loughner recommends:
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 6 whole cloves
- 10 black pepper corns
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 cups water
In a saucepan, bring ingredients to a slow boil. Once it has started to boil, remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. Strain and store.
From bartender Paul Dejonge at Stockton’s Ave on the Mile, a classic Singapore Sling. It’s “a little bit different, fun to make and tastes really good.”
- 1 ounce gin
- Sweet and sour mix
- Club soda
- 1/2 ounce cherry brandy
Coat the bottom of a glass with grenadine and then fill to the top with ice. Pour in 1 ounce of gin with equal parts sweet and sour mix and club soda. Finish with the cherry brandy.
In a makeshift distillery tucked into a Rancho Cordova business park, Greg Baughman mashes and ferments batches of his Wheel House American Dry Gin using a still he designed and built himself, a gleaming vision of stainless steel and copper. But actually sell you a bottle? For that he needs to hire a middleman due to regulatory hurdles dating back to Prohibition.
At the crush pad of a custom-built winery, the 6-foot-4 winemaker in tie-dye socks shuts off the forklift, realizing he missed a call.
“I didn’t hear my phone ring,” says Layne Montgomery, 55, general manager and founding partner of m2 Vintners Inc. in Acampo.
“It’s harvest,” jests one of his volunteers. “Who has time for a phone?”
When downtown Sacramento’s Brew It Up poured its last beer in 2011, owner Michael Costello lost more than his business. “I lost everything,” he says. “Nobody really knows the whole breadth of it. It’s not an easy thing to go through.”
Imagine you’re a successful businessman, but what you really want to be is a professional baseball player. You’re so sure of yourself that you begin spending nights and weekends studying and training as if Major League Baseball will soon be calling. And then they actually do, and at your first at-bat, you clear the bases.
That’s pretty much how things happened when Granite Bay pharmacist Dr. Grover Lee decided to become an award-winning winemaker.