I cannot remember a time we’ve had more divas behind the bar than in front of it, but if the new Fall Cocktails are anything to go by, we have entered a golden age. What I’m loving about this team of Alessandra, Andrew, Terra and Linda, all solid when it comes to mixology, is that they are more interested in hitting the notes customers long for than grandstanding with liquid arias to their formidable collective talents. Our six new libations are habit forming in the extreme, crowd-pleasers yet still retaining intrigue. Some of the ingredients are more ephemeral than others, but the pared down sensibility they’ve taken when it comes to layering flavors achieves complexity through simplicity, no easy feat… except when you know what you’re doing. I’m loving these drinks. Take a look.
The Last Aristocrats of Summer is all about our award winning pear juice, which clever Terra claimed dibs on as soon as she heard Dan and I had spent the night at Tintin juicing the last of the Hosui and Shinseiki pears. Our Asian pear orchard sits on the edge of the ridge facing northwest, apart from the other pears and the acres of apples and chestnuts. They make best use of that first hit of fog as it rises up from the draw, and soak in the last rays of sunlight as it chases the ocean. They are an elegant fruit, flavor wise, with subtle sweetness high on florals, especially on the nose. The Last Aristocrats of Summer is held aloft with an Earl Gray infused vodka, and a spike of St George spiced pear liquor, but it’s luxurious body and texture is of fragrant pear juice. Terra’s pumpkin rim is six roasted spices - she won’t say what - but Starbucks eat your heart out. Shaken and served martini style, icy cold, for as long as the juice lasts.
After hanging out for years with my friend Sandra Jordan I have come to love the taste of a good Pisco Sour, but even when you use an artisan Pisco, it lacks complexity. Rum, on the other hand, is usually too complex, especially when combined, as it usually is, with bold competing flavors. What makes Andrew’s Dreamland Sour one of my favorite new cocktails is that it evokes the memory of a tropical pineapple and rum concoction but makes the case for rum with rounder more fulsome flavor, courtesy of his ginger honey chamomile syrup. In this cocktail Andrew has managed to temper those powerful Jamaican and Peruvian spirits while still giving them their due. Finished with a fall fan of bitters that floats on a surprisingly foamy (vegan!) topper in lieu of egg whites which can adversely affect aroma. What you get here is a wonderful burnt pineapple scent with a hint of spicy undernotes.
Arrakis Kiss is the newest mind boggler from Alessandra, who is fearless when choosing her impetus spirits, terribly clever in what she pairs with it. This is only the second time in our history we’ve had Aquavit on the chalkboard. Aquavit tempered with Luxardo Bitter Bianco and paired with agave? Well, yes. Orange flower water with lemon juice and cardamon bitters? Yes again. There is great finesse to all of Alessandra’s creations and Arrakis Kiss is no exception. It’s a perfect fall libation we wholeheartedly dedicate to all those Frank Herbert readers out there, as the name is an obvious nod to Melange, the drink of choice on Dune. To which we can only add yes again. Make love not war kids. There is enough of that floating around these days.
Permission to Flirt is Linda's first foray onto the board. She is our newest bar team member - and happy we are to welcome her and her contributions to the Barn. Permission to Flirt is one of two new cocktails Lynda re-imagined for fall (the other, Black Buffalo, is a bourbon drink similar to Why Bears do It) and it’s by far the most accessible new cocktail on the list. Before the Cosmo became obsequious (and dumbed down) it began life at the fabled Odeon, a simple but elegant (and only lightly blushed) cocktail great to drink at the start or end of an evening. Permission to Flirt has those same simple chops to become a standard. It works for brunch, it works late night, you can down a few and still feel better than fine. Made with honey-crisp vodka, pomegranate hibiscus syrup, ginger bitters and fresh citrus which lifts the flavors and the mood. The addition of bubbly from Roederer Estate makes it festive, yet still a balm for a restive spirit.
It’s not a misnomer, especially in a room as pretty as the Barn’s bar on any night, to want to enjoy everything about a cocktail lounge - the music, the flowers, the tall windows to the beautiful Sonoma County sky - without alcohol. We come together to drink for so many reasons, we too often forget that only one of them - and probably not the most important - is to get a buzz on. Even without the addition of any signature spirit, The Trickster is a terrific cocktail. Seedlip makes it easy to devise new ways to present N/A drinks without disappointment. Seedlip Garden 108 is fully herbal without being medicinal, and it’s wonderfully dry. There is little that needs to be done to it unless you are a Barndiva diva - looking at you Andrew - in which case you add a splash of Schezwan Pepper syrup and top a highball filled with ice with dry farmed heirloom apple juice. Welcome to The Trickster.