I don’t want to make you jealous, but my parents are pretty wonderful. When I visit them, they always have ideas of places to take me, that they know I’ll enjoy—Spoonbar is the perfect example.
Ever since they gave us a copy of Scott Beattie’s book, Artisanal Cocktails: Drinks Inspired by the Seasons from the Bar at Cyrus (a mouthful to avoid after a couple of mouthfuls of your drink here), I’ve wanted to taste one of his drinks.
Beattie has moved on from Cyrus to Spoonbar, a block or two away from Healdsburg Plaza (a formal California plaza with orange trees and palms). Besides the usual suspects on the wall behind the bar (the many types of gins, vodkas, and whiskeys), are the little bottles that attract miniaturists, mad scientists, and those of us who have some of both of those tendencies as well as a love of fine drink: cordials, essences, and bitters—some of which went into my drinks.
Beattie’s book is full of enticing drinks. This year, with a spring slow in coming, I’m especially drawn to the Frondsong. This gin, herbsaint, Chartreuse, and lemon concoction, is fortified with pickled fennel and garnished with anise hyssop, fennel frond, and dianthus and borage flowers. The picture alone makes me happy . I’m sure the drink would seal the deal.
Frondsong, p. 48 Artisanal Cocktails
Mom and Dad sweetened the deal by thinking of inviting an old friend to join us for drinks. It had been much too long since I’d seen her. What could be better than a good drink with a good (and missed) friend?
You know the answer to that. Two good drinks!
Sadly, no Frondsong on the menu. But I’m not one to wallow too long in misery, so I didn’t need to drown my sorrows. Let’s just say I took them out for a little swim.
First in the Meyer Lemon Elderflower sour, made with Charbay Meyer Lemon Vodka, meyer lemon juice, and D’Arbo elderflower syrup.
La Nuit du MarocAnd then in La Nuit du Maroc, made with Hangar 1 Mandarin Orange Blossom Vodka, lime and sudachi juices, essence of cardamom, pomegranate juice, and a lone blue borage flower (I think it was doing the backstroke).
Both these drinks had what I realize more and more is the thing that makes me happiest. Perfect balance. All of the juices and alcohol and essences worked together, stepping to the front and then modestly stepping aside for the next flavor, but standing by in case someone slipped and needed a friendly hand. The drinks kept my interest, but didn’t demand it.
And if spending the late afternoon of a vacation in California over drinks with my parents and an old friend I’ve missed isn’t as good as it gets, how about this: When the bartender mixed my second drink, he turned to Scott Beattie (who had mixed my first drink) and asked who it was for.
Beattie answered, succinctly. “The lady in the stripes.” I felt right at home.
That’s the edge of my Meyer Lemon Elderflower Sour, and a bottle of some sort of prune elixir Beattie is working on. We didn’t get to taste it, Beattie insisted it tastes awful. But boy did it smell wonderful.