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SHAKERS > inspiring spirits


here’s what’s shakin’ 52 Have Thirst , Will Travel: Part II • disco veries from Africa and Eur ope By Mark C. Ande

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opening toast

the idea • distilled to stir curiosity around a booming industry and the personalities that make it shake.

Publisher Ryan Sanchez Art Director Manny Espinoza Editor at Large Mark C. Anderson Photographers Manny Espinoza, Mark C. Anderson, Ryan Chard Smith, Rich Rama Contributing Writers Otis Conklin, Adam Joseph, Heidi Licata, Juanita Rose, Stuart Thornton, Xania V. Woodman, Katie Shea, Blair Ellis, Jeff Moses, George Z. Peterson Advertising 831-236-1998 SHAKERS MAGAZINE 831-277-6013 | www.shakersmag.com P.O. Box 1752 | Monterey, CA 93942

There are so many exciting industry happenings in the works as this issue goes to press, and these pages are filled with them, ranging from developments in Las Vegas to California to Croatia. So many, in fact, that we ran out of room to talk about 1) Pebble Beach Food & Wine’s most ambitious slate of events yet (founder David Bernahl is promising both via sea and sky, pbfw. com) and 2) AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am serving a dramatic preamble to an historic U.S. Open on the 100th anniversary of Pebble itself (attpbgolf.com; usga.org). But something else takes precedence on this page, and it’s a reflection on our mission statement, above left on this page. We come back to that mission frequently, but rarely with the intensity we did this summer. The second part —“the personalities that make it shake”—resonates because of the sudden loss of the sort of soul that makes communities like Big Sur, and the hospitality industry in general, so special. Weston Call had more qualities than can fit here. He was a fixer for Big Sur Food & Wine, ready to leap into any challenge with smarts and a smile. He was an old friend the moment many met him for the first time. He was someone who turned adversity into opportunity, introducing a van service after Pfeiffer Bridge broke, while coaching visitors on the unique— and fragile—beauty of Big Sur. He was an outdoorsman, a master composter and a creative genius who helped build a giant pirate ship on wheels for Burning Man, and then invited everyone aboard. He was the kind of guy people gravitated toward at events to talk business, share inspiration or swap stories or, most likely, all of the above. He was also part of the Shakers family, personally and professionally. Like one of his oldest friends, fellow Big Sur lifer and hospitality veteran Chelsea Belle Davey, points out, he hustled and connected and helped from a place of personal compassion. “Weston told people he loved them, and often,” she says. “In the days following his passing there was this incredible outpouring of friends saying that they had just talked with him, or had received a text [that] said something loving, heartfelt and sincere. A simple, ‘Hey buddy! Just wanted to say I love ya! See you soon?’ These small gestures make such a huge difference in our lives and we often think to do it and fail to. Weston had this talent of completing the task.” Now we’re left to honor his legacy, to complete the task. We know how Shakers will do it: With more stories of people like him—who honor others through service, know how to have fun, and lead with heart. Sincerely,

Ryan Sanchez, Publisher

Mark C. Anderson, Editor at Large


LABELS WE LOVE D i v i n e Wi n e D e s i g n s


The Calling Red Wine • Alexander Valley, California • thecallingwine.com Limerick Lane • Russian River, California • limericklanewines.com Millesime Rare Piper Heidsieck Brut Champagne • Champagne, France • piper-heidsieck.com Juggernaut Hillside Cabernet Sauvignon • Livermore, California • juggernautwines.com Albatross Ridge Estate Reserve Pinot Noir • Carmel Valley, California • albatrossridge.com Sandman Founder's Reserve Ruby Porto • Porto, Portugal • sandeman.com


TA S T E M A K E R Las Vegas

Here We Grow

From lush coastal gardens to urban grit, Las Vegas newcomer Sonia Stelea maintains her market-fresh perspective. By Xania V. Woodman

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here was a time when bartender Sonia Stelea would have her pick of the more than 40 varieties of organic fruits, vegetables and herbs cultivated at Fresh Run Farm in Marin County, California. As the ordained “farm-to-bar liaison” at San Francisco’s Cotogna restaurant, she would use the estate-grown harvest to create seasonal specialty cocktails that complemented Cotogna’s cuisine. Now, as the bar lead and market specialist (a.k.a. produce whisperer) for Esther’s Kitchen in Downtown Las Vegas, Stelea crafts a compact menu of five classics and five original market creations that incorporate whatever she selects from purveyors including central California’s Regier Family Farm, Coleman Family Farms out of Ojai, and Urban Seed, Las Vegas’ revolutionary urban farm. The 33-year-old Romanian-born Chicagoan was once on the law-school track, studying English literature and philosophy with a minor in French. When the Great Recession hit, she watched her friends and colleagues struggle under mounting debt. That’s when Stelea, who had been working in hospitality since the age of 14, began to see her restaurant work as not merely a way to survive but to thrive. “It took me a long time to accept that I wasn't going to go back to law school,” she says. “But once I accepted that the food and beverage industry was something that I really wanted to be a part of, it just made sense.” Stelea subsequently blossomed through positions at Chicago’s Rosebud, Francesca's and Cibo Matto, San Francisco’s A16, Frances and Coco500, and her transformative experience with chef-owners Michael and Lindsay Tusk at Cotogna.

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Stelea arrived in Las Vegas in mid-December 2017, ready to tackle the opening of Esther’s Kitchen, a neighborhood Italian spot helmed by Las Vegas native chef James Trees. With 50 seats inside, 10 at the bar and 30 on the patio, Esther’s has had a remarkable debut year, establishing a locals destination since it opened in the Arts District in early January 2018. Stelea and her bar team—including Keith Bracewell, David Klarer, Bryan Pierzga and Kevin Raspberry—have stretched their creative muscles, incorporating farm-fresh produce into drinks such as the summertime Head To-Ma-Toes, with Moletto Tomato Gin and house-made chive water topped with vegan aquafaba foam. Depending on what’s at its peak, the drink might be garnished with ripe cherry tomatoes or chive blossoms.

The second project is shaping up as a pizza, gelato and gin concept in Tivoli Village. With the working title Ada’s, it would be yet another win for that category in Las Vegas, which recently welcomed the gin-focused Juniper Cocktail Lounge in Park MGM and a new gin-centric cocktail program at Jardin in Encore Resort at Wynn Las Vegas.

“For being open one year, the creative side has been really, really active,” Stelea says. “We have an incredible team that is really on board and just very excited. Despite being as busy as we are, and sometimes of feeling like there aren’t enough hours in a day, we still communicate with each other. We work in very supportive ways.”

Regarding Stelea’s wishes for her own legacy, they don’t fall far from the tree. “I want it to be about kindness, not just to each other as humans, but also to the world around us,” she says. “If there was something that I would hope to influence, it's to make people aware—even through cocktails, even when they're sitting there at the end of their day, having a drink, wanting to unwind—still keeping that connection between the individual person and the environment, the world in which we live.”

Other creations have included making their own crème de menthe, cantaloupe liqueur, lemon balm shrub, a “super potent” passion fruit tincture, house limoncello and soon, perhaps, an all-spice amaro, plus a blood orange syrup. The origin story of that syrup is emblematic of how Trees and Stelea work together to create harmony between their respective teams: The kitchen was using blood oranges in salads when they were in season; instead of throwing away the peels, Stelea et al took them and made a syrup.

Ada Coleman was head bartender of the American Bar at London’s Savoy Hotel for 23 years in the early 1900s and one of only two women to ever hold that title. Still in operation today, the American Bar was named World’s Greatest Bar at the 2018 Spirited Awards. It’s where she created the Hanky Panky cocktail, another part of Coleman’s great legacy.

Once I accepted that the food and beverage industry was something that I really wanted to be a part of, it just made sense.

As impromptu as some of her creations might be, there was nothing spontaneous about Stelea’s move to Nevada. “I thought about it for about four years,” she says. “The cost of living was very low, and it seemed like the opportunities to own a business and see it progress were available.” That’s right, she’s already thinking ownership. But first, there is much to do at Esther’s Kitchen, and another intriguing TreesStelea project opening this spring, where she'll be general manager.

That begins with her adopted city. “I would love to start a weekly farmers market in front of Esther’s,” she says. “In the last year that I've been here, I've seen Las Vegas change a lot; it's progressing, and that's the beauty of Vegas right now: It's blooming. You have these super-interesting minds and creative food revolutionaries working together, and everyone's happy for each other’s success. Being a part of that—it's amazing to watch. I want to see Vegas five or 10 years from now. It's going to be a completely different world.” > More at EsthersLV.com.

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In the Kitchen

A peek into Stelea's seasonally driven drinks. Stinger 1.5 oz. Comandon Cognac .5 oz. house-made crème de menthe .25 oz. Fernet Francisco Manzanilla Mint sprig Stir and strain into a coupe with a int garnish Old Fashioned Lemon and orange peel .25 oz. simple syrup 2 dashes of Angostura Aromatic Bitters Muddle Large cube in rocks glass 1.5 oz. Old Forester Bourbon Stir and serve Dark and Stormy 1 medallion of fresh ginger muddled with .75 oz. ginger syrup 1.5 oz. white rum 1 oz. lime juice Shake and double-strain into a rocks glass Top with 1 oz. Skipper Rum Bee’s Knees 1 oz. Barr Hill Gin 1 oz. Amaro Nonino .75 oz. lemon juice Anise hyssop sprig Shake and double-strain over a large rock Hyssop leaf and bee pollen sprinkle Blood and Sand 1 oz. Bank Note Blended Scotch .5 oz. Laphroaig Islay Scotch .5 oz. Dolin Sweet Vermouth .5 oz. tart cherry liqueur .5 oz. orange juice Shake and double-strain into a coupe Smoke the glass with rosemary Rosemary sprig garnish 14

Desert Jammin’ 1.5 oz. Comandon Cognac .5 oz. Cardamaro .5 oz. lemon .5 oz. cinnamon syrup Shake and strain over crushed ice Line glass with plum jam Top with plum jam and lemon peel Tarantella 1.5 oz. Lazaronni Sambuca .75 oz. Lemon juice .25 oz. Giffard Peach Liqueur Egg whites Muddle 3 slices fresh peach Dry shake, then shake with ice Double-strain into a coupe Peach slice and fennel pollen garnish Spiaggia Rosa 1 oz. equila .5 oz. Fidencio Mezcal .5 oz. Campari .75 oz. grapefruit oleo saccharum .5 oz. lime juice Line Collins glass with sugar/ salt/ smoked paprika blend Build in a Collins glass and stir Top with soda and a grapefruit slice garnish Head To-Ma-Toes 1.5 oz. Moletto Tomato Gin .5 oz. house-made chive water .5 oz. aquafaba .5 oz. simple syrup .5 oz. lime juice Dry shake, then shake with ice Double-strain into a coupe glass Three cherry tomatoes on a stick with beet powder sprinkle Mary Bell Rosemary sugar rim a rocks glass Build cocktail over a single large ice cube 1 oz. vodka .5 oz. pear liqueur .25 oz. Contratto Bianco Vermouth Teaspoon Velvet Falernum Stir and top with Prosecco Rosemary sprig garnish


I want it to be about kindness, not just to each other as humans, but also to the world around us.

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MIXING IT UP SOMM 3 San Francisco Premiere

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CityCentered A new craft spirits brand, 404 Vodka, seizes upon the identity of Atlanta. By Adam Joseph

F

or years, longtime beverage producer and occasional Shakers contributor Jeff Moses (see p. 69) has lived in cosmopolitan cities across the country—San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City—while crisscrossing the globe to find new flavors in places like Tokyo, Rome, Marrakech, Moscow and Mumbai.

But it is Atlanta, Georgia, where Moses felt compelled to make his current home—on the strength of the city’s wholly unique character, its recent growth, its pop-culture power and its storied history as the jewel of the American South. Atlanta is a world class city, Moses notes, with all the charm of a much more intimate community—small town people in an urban setting. “People know how to make you feel welcome here,” he says. “And we’re so justifiably proud of everything our city has to offer.” The driving energy and possibility of the South got Moses thinking along the lines of a spirits brand that could do right by Atlanta’s legacy.

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BRAND Atlanta

People know how to make you feel welcome here. And we’re so justifiably proud of our city.

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His beverage credentials are substantial: He has developed and produced Bogarts Spirits (vodka, gin, rum and whiskey), Graffiti wines in India and Italy, Bandero Tequila in Jalisco, Mexico, and ABK, a beer from a 700-year-old brewery in Bavaria. He founded and ran the Monterey Beer Festival and BevMo Holiday Beer Festivals for almost a decade, and created more than 30 original craft label brews over the course of 15 years while co-owning two California craft breweries. When giant corporate breweries threatened to infringe on Moses’ trademark for “Graffiti” in beverages, he pushed back: Moses took a stand that helped lead to MillerCoors discontinuing its Blue Moon line of “graffiti”-themed beers, scoring a win over corporate behemoths for craft producers everywhere. One of Moses’ gutsier projects was a debuting a nationally-distributed beer brand, Big Hurt, with Hall of Fame White Sox slugger Frank Thomas (pictured, right). Thomas, himself a Georgia native from Columbus with many ties to Atlanta, is now teaming up with Moses on 404 Vodka. (Full disclosure: Shakers Editor-at-Large Mark C. Anderson is also a partner in the project.)

On the ATL vibe: There are endless conversations going on in every place I go, which is why I love it. Everybody is so friendly, you can talk with everyone, whether you’re in a restaurant, bar or supermarket. I look at [Atlanta] as a big town with world-class offerings in food, beverages, entertainment and sports. On the big breakthrough: Our Georgia Peach vodka has been a huge hit. Eating a ripe peach in Atlanta—at the height of summer—can be a religious experience, and our peach-flavored vodka channels that. It’s great in all sorts of drinks, and also nice over ice. On the base philosophy: 404 is a corn-distilled vodka, which makes it gluten-free. A corn base makes a spirit very clean, smooth, and a bit sweeter on the finish. We’re filtering the 404 at least two times, and it’s distilled six times to get the smooth, round finish vodka drinkers love. Vodkas tend to have a similar flavor profile, and what differentiates them for the average vodka drinker is their smoothness on the finish. Other spirits like gin, rum and whiskey have more intensity. On the process: It’s important to have an end idea of how you want the product to taste from the start. The brewer, the winemaker, and the distiller help you get to that finished product in your hands.

“Atlanta is a place where we truly value the work done by our friends and neighbors,” continued Moses. The 404 name honors the original area code of the city. The silver foil on the label gives a nod to Georgia’s state tree, the live oak. The brand has received an enthusiastic welcome from the city: After a month on shelves it is appearing in 300+ retail locations in Georgia and is figuring prominently into Super Bowl LIII celebrations happening as this goes to press.

On his backstory: I’ve worked with fourth and fifth generation winemakers in India and Italy; I’ve worked with Francisco González, who created and produced the real Don Julio Tequila, to make Bandero Tequila; and many craft brewers. It’s a true collaboration that gets you to the final flavor profile you want. I’m thrilled that we were able to achieve the taste we had in mind with 404.

More from Moses on 404’s origins appears below.

On the future of 404: We’re looking to roll out the Georgia Peach and the classic 404 vodkas past Georgia state lines in 2019.

On the formula for the spirit: We are working with a local craft distillery where we’ve created an unflavored vodka and a peachflavored version.

On the key selling point: We think the 404 brand represents the people of Georgia well. > More at 404vodka.com.

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LIFESTYLE

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Worldly Ambitions

Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest aims to be one of the most exclusive lifestyle events on Earth. By Toby Rowland-Jones

J

ust a tiny taste of 2019 Gourmetfest events, personalities and wine is enough to make even veteran gourmands dizzy: a Krug luncheon, a vertical tasting of Solaia, truffles paired with Black River Caviar, the Magic of Colgin, the alreadysold-out Rarities Dinner (at only $5,500 a person), chefs Anton Mörwald of Le Ciel in Vienna, Austria, David Kinch of the three-star Manresa in Los Gatos and Justin Cogley of Aubergine in Carmel. “The goal of GourmetFest,” says founder David Fink (pictured left, with Daniel Boulud), “is to highlight the individual skills of these amazing Relais & Châteaux chefs, who come from around the world. Yes, they work hard at their own establishments, yet when they are here, they get to socialize with their peers, and at the same time, get to explore the exquisite beauty of what we have here on this coast. With a trip to Big Sur for a mushroom hunt or out to Cachagua Valley to the Galante Estate, we ensure they are not cooped up in a kitchen. It’s a mini-vacation for them.”

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While a talent like Kinch has become an annual attendee, Mark Lundgard from Denmark is new to the event, happening March 14-17, 2019, across Carmel and Big Sur, California. On the wine side, Chateau Lafite—which has been absent from the West Coast for a number of years—will be prevalent throughout the weekend. Clovis Taittinger of the famed Champagne house will also be pouring at most events. Another wine highlight: a vertical tasting of Opus One spanning almost every vintage since its inception in 1978. Graham Gaspard of Black River Caviar has presented his Uruguayan caviar since the start of GourmetFest, and by now is deep into his affection for the festival. He runs through a checklist of qualities with a big smile: “First of all, it’s Carmel— you can’t pick a more beautiful location. The selections of chefs and wineries are unparalleled. And the exceptionally high quality of the guests: I’ve made a number of friends over the years, so that’s truly what brings me back.” Looking into his crystal goblet, Fink has great visions for the GourmetFest still to realize, which is a lot to swallow given

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how incredible it’s already become after just a half dozen years. He believes that with some 800 Relais & Châteaux properties around the globe, there is real potential for this gathering to be remixed on the East Coast, perhaps in Paris, or even at the resort in Burgundy he is developing that breaks ground this summer. His dreams go on from there: The attendance of chef George Blanc of Vonnas, France; the involvement of a Japanese three-star restaurant such as Kashiwaya of Osaka; the appearance of Jean-Marc Roulot from Domaine Roulot in Meursault, which Fink says “would be a feather in our cap”; a collaboration with Jean-Nicolas Méo of Méo-Camuzet, a Henri Jayer-inspired wine in Vosne-Romanée; or more firstgrowths from Bordeaux. “The list goes on,” Fink says, “and as we continue to present the best, hopefully their peers will be enticed to come.” > More at gourmetfestcarmel.com.


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Special Ingredients Lindsey Greblo has generated a passionate following, and a cocktail contest win streak, with craft, cunning and bacon. By Juanita Conklin | Photos by Manny Espinoza

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indsey Greblo is quietly putting together a cocktail championship dynasty. While repping the bar program for Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar (a drink-with-a-view destination on the cusp of the Pacific Ocean in Monterey), she has swept the last three annual creative drink contests hosted by Monterey County Hospitality Association.

Her latest winning entry, “The Pig’s a Whistling Old Fashioned,” puts a seductive spin on a drink found to be the most popular in the country by Drinks International (p. 79) and one that happens to be reinvented in another way by Shakers contributor Katie Blandin Shea in this very issue (p. 74). Greblo says she kept her take on the old-fashioned “simple and fun.” OK. But it’s not every drink maker that uses bourbon-washed bacon, bacon-infused dark agave nectar, orange bitters, burnt orange peel (to zest the glass) and “pig candy”—bacon sprinkled with brown sugar and red-pepper flakes—for garnish. “I ate about two packs of the candied bacon by the time I perfected it,” she says. Lorinda Hampton, a local photographer and occasional collaborator on private events, is among many who have followed Greblo for years. “Her personality comes out when she works with her guests,” Hampton says. “She's very social and loves what she does, and also likes to see people have a great time.” Greblo’s unconventional instincts felt like a great fit for new Shakers feature “20/10,” in which she stirs up answers to 20 questions in 10 words or less (with some occasional exceptions).

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20/10 VISION Monterey

It’s not every drink maker that uses bourbon-washed bacon, bacon-infused dark agave nectar, orange bitters, burnt orange peel (to zest the glass) and “pig candy” in their work.

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Favorite flavor profile? That would definitely be something spicy, salty and slightly sweet. Prefered atypical ingredient? Bacon fat. Who doesn’t love bacon? Favorite past trend that’s making a comeback? Aperitifs, but incorporating them into cocktails. I have one on the menu at Schooners. When do you feel most alive? When I am on the stage competing in these cocktail competitions! (Musics blasting, adrenaline is pumping, the timer is counting down, and people are cheering. I love what I do and I do what I love.) Most underappreciated bar tool or technique? It’s a barback! Because I never have one! Favorite thing about your job? The ultimate is watching someone’s facial expression and reaction after tasting. Insider tip for casual bar guests? Be more open to trying new things. Don’t be afraid of gin cocktails. Favorite underground bar? It’s not around anymore but Doc Ricketts Lab when it was in Cannery Row. Most annoying bartending phenomenon? When someone orders a daiquiri expecting it to be blended. Top bartender hero? It may sound cliché but Dale DeGroff [James Beard Award-winning “King Cocktail”]. What's one way you incorporate chef insight into drinks? Breakfast-inspired: bacon and French toast with maple syrup, for my Old-Fashioned.

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Favorite obscure liquor? Cynar Artichoke—I think it’s amazing. Biggest misconception of barkeep industry? That female bartenders [don’t belong]. It takes longer to gain the respect. Favorite toast? French toast! since I don’t engage in toasting. It’s a superstitious thing. Best value on the liquor market these days? For home bars, Costco, baby! Favorite liquor marketing concept? Social media, a beautiful photo of a perfectly presented cocktail with liquor of choice beside it. Favorite bar-centric TV show or movie? Hey Bartender [the movie]. It’s old-school, there’s passion, and the drive to give back! What's your cocktail spirit animal? A single malt scotch, or a Bourbon Buck, female version. Favorite nightcap? A Boulevardier [whiskey, sweet red vermouth and Campari]. Best advice for home mixologists? You can always invite me over for a few mixology sessions! (Start off by using all the classics and then replacing ingredients with your own. Whatever flavors you can’t find on the shelf—spirit wise—you can most likely find in your kitchen and you can use food influences to make your own. Be creative, try crazy things, keep practicing, and don’t forget to let your friends be the guinea pigs! They never lie. Most of all, never give up, you can do anything if you set your mind to it.) > More shakeitupbartender.com.

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TECHNOLOGY Las Vegas

Drinking EX MACHINA

The Toki Highball Machine makes Japan’s ubiquitous refresher more of a warm-weather delight in heart of Vegas. By Xania V. Woodman

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W

hen temperatures and humidity soar, the Japanese Highball is an exquisite remedy for a special kind of parched.

Comprising more stipulations than actual ingredients, the experience should begin with an utterly residue-free glass. Next comes the ice: dense and clear, please. To this is added a measure of Japanese whisky and high-quality soda water that has been poured gently down the side of the glass to preserve every precious bubble. Thirteen-and-a-half stirs are the tradition, said to be the perfect amount to combine the ingredients without disturbing them. Garnish with a simple lemon peel or wedge, or just let it be—the Japanese Highball is perfect in its natural state.

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There is, however, another decision to be made, regarding whether your misuwari (whisky and water) will be prepared entirely by hand or with the aid of a specially designed siphon that dispenses prechilled Suntory Toki Japanese Whisky and highly-carbonated soda water simultaneously, thus mixing them. You just bring the clean glass, the good ice and serve with a genuine smile. Right now, in Las Vegas, connoisseurs can find two such machines courtesy of venerable Japanese whisky house Suntory. These Toki Highball Machines are a small portion of the 44 systems now whirring away in bars nationwide. In Las Vegas, Sparrow + Wolf was the first restaurant to install one such machine last fall. Most of barman Terry Clark’s love for the gadget has to do with the high level of carbonation the unit achieves. “It’s, like, the best soda water in the world,” he says. “It comes out just as fizzy as Champagne.” The unit has three built-in modes, allowing Clark and his fellow bartenders to dispense just the Toki, the finished highball or the soda water solo, which Clark says he can combine with any number of other syrups or ingredients. He’s planning house-made shrubs, different types of vinegars, emulsions and other unique flavors; the other day he made some apple jelly. “We’re going to try to do a seasonal highball menu where it will be the same highball, but there will be a pour of something at the bottom of the glass,” he says. Just add whisky and soda water for something entirely new! For noted author Tony Abou-Ganim, it was also that intense carbonation that initially turned his head. The partner in Libertine Social in Mandalay Bay has had his Toki Highball Machine for about 10 months. “We do club service—all bottled sodas—but the carbonation never seems to be enough,” Abou-Ganim says. “This machine generates a carbonation that is above and beyond anything that I've seen from a seltzer bottle, from virtually anything, so that's all it took for me. Now, when I'm at work and not imbibing, all I drink is the soda water on its own.”

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This machine generates a carbonation that is above and


Abou-Ganim also lets his siphon do double duty, using the highly charged water to make house tonics (while he considers a house ginger ale). Soda from the siphon means less plastic and glass waste, and even eliminates the impulse to drop in a straw as the carbonation literally pushes them out of the glass. “I never understood straws and things like that anyway,” Abou-Ganim says. “I'm served a glass of water with a straw in it, I'm like, ‘Why?’ You look up and down [the bar] and people will be taking them out. I've always thought if someone wants a straw, they'll ask for it. I'm all for the whole paper straw idea, or doing away with straws altogether.” Having the whisky dispensed cold also plays a role in highball success: There is no need to stir or shake the spirit with ice. “If I get a highball at a bar I generally don't end up finishing it,” Clark admits. “The soda water goes flat and the ice melts because of the warm soda water going on top of it.” Barman Christopher Gutierrez of downtown’s throwback watering hole Corduroy does not have a Toki Highball Machine at his bar, but reports having thoroughly enjoying Sparrow + Wolf’s siphoned version of the drink he’s made plenty of times at his previous post, the whiskycentric Oak & Ivy, also downtown. “The whole drink was sharply carbonated from start to finish despite the hot temperatures [outside] and a healthy wedge of lemon,” Gutierrez says. “I was very surprised at how pronounced the nose of the whisky presented itself throughout. And I nursed it for more than 30 minutes.”

beyond anything that I've seen from a seltzer bottle...

The Japanese whisky that gives this boon its name, Suntory Toki, is a natural choice for the soda water it creates. “I consider Japanese whisky to be ‘the Sauvignon Blanc’ of whisky,” he says. “Not in a disparaging way—I love Sauvignon Blanc—but in that it’s light-bodied and refreshing. An overly peated whisky would not work. Peat is transferred to whisky through natural oils, and oil and water don't mix.” The verdict: We probably don’t need to worry about robots taking over the bar (yet). While the Toki Highball Machine certainly streamlines a delicate bar process, reduces waste, inspires creativity and upholds consistency from glass to glass, it still takes a smiling, competent bar professional to garnish even the simplest drink with that indefinable human touch. > More at whisky.suntory.com. SHAKERS > INSPIRING SPIRITS

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MIXING IT UP Camden Las Vegas | El Jefe Tequila Launch

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GANGSTER Love Five Points takes the name of an infamous NYC slum to do great suds in rising San Jose scene. By Stuart Thornton

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D E S T I N AT I O N San Jose

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ive Points was a 19th Century New York City slum known for its infectious diseases and high murder rate.

It was a place where notorious street gangs ruled, including The Bowery Boys and the Dead Rabbits, a group of Irish-American toughs who paraded around with, yes, a dead rabbit nailed to a stick. The rough-and-tumble neighborhood inspired the 2002 Martin Scorsese film Gangs of New York. Now the notorious slum has also inspired something unexpected: The creation of an upscale cocktail bar in San Jose just feet from the city’s popular San Pedro Square. Owner David Mulvehill, a former New York City resident, showed Shakers around the bar on a pleasant afternoon as a crowd fills in for Whiskey Wednesday, in which select whiskies are half off. There’s the Penny Room, a semi-private section with a floor made of pennies and a large bookshelf with 19th Century diversions including books, sculptures and oddities. The seating in the rest of the bar is mostly repurposed church pews that help give the 2-and-a-halfyear-old establishment a far older feel. Mulvehill points to a replica of an Old World NYC hood storefront on the far wall. “Whatever you see, it replicates businesses from Five Points back in the day,” he says with a lilt in his voice from his native Ireland. While Five Points has 19th Century features including carriage lanterns and lazily turning ceiling fans, it is very much a modern bar with a shiny row of liquor bottles behind the bar and a big-screen TV over the booze. As rock music blares overhead, Mulvehill admits that his main goal for Five Points is simply to be a craft cocktail bar where you feel comfortable coming in.

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They were going back to nitty gritty cocktails, less is more.

That mix of past and present also happens in Five Point’s fine cocktails. The cocktail menu is split between “House Libations”—which includes creations like a mezcal drink with falernum, mint syrup, blackberry jam, and lime—and “The Classics” with a Pisco Sour, Old Cuban and others. They offer three cocktails on tap as well, including the Easy Does It, a tasty mix of vodka and a delicious housemade vanilla soda. Their Sazerac with George Dickel Rye Whiskey is smooth, slightly sweet, and the best Sazerac I’ve had (and I’ve spent some serious time in New Orleans). Another standout on the cocktail menu is the Monarch that comes out with a mint floating like a tiny rowboat in a pale yellow pond. It tastes floral and slightly fruity, evoking the freshness of a garden after a light rain. Mulvehill notes that the cocktail menu has changed since Five Points opened in 2016. “For a while, they were going back to nitty gritty cocktails, less is more,” he says. “But we are always playing. We are not stuck to any genres.” It’s a good strategy for a bar that doesn’t feel stuck in the past or fixated on the present. And it’s a philosophy that helps Five Points feel timeless in an always-changing neighborhood. > More at fivepointssj.com

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T R AV E L O G U E E XC L U S I V E Africa and Eastern Europe

Barometre • Marrakech

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Have Thirst, Will Travel:

Part Two

Added cocktail inspiration flows from North Africa and Central Europe. Photos and story by Mark C. Anderson

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eboj. The word appears above an entrance to a long uphill tunnel in an industrial and arty part of Prague. In local slang, it means “Don’t be scared."

Good advice, in turns out. While intimidating from the outside, the interior of the pedestrian passage is beautiful, with its Alice in Wonderland effect, photogenic tiling, and, on a recent summer day, welcoming music from a busker weaving Czech covers of Death Cab for Cutie. Neboj works as a sub-motto for this year-long series of travel stories, which debuted last issue (traversing Malaysia, Vietnam and Thailand), "as a toast to those who like to travel—and those who like to think when they drink, and like it when their drink makes them do precisely that.” The goal is to seek out international elixirs in unique cities, unlocking flavors outside Shakers’ typical time zone, and comfort zone. Part of the mission is to suss out ideas that can be applied in the U.S.; another is to invite readers to embrace exploration in whatever corner of the world they can. Put differently, curiosity is the key ingredient in this storytelling cocktail.

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Marrakech, Morocco Between the dancing cobras and monkeys on leashes, the booming restaurant barkers and silent cloaked women, the maze that is the Medina market and its endless assortment of vendors—each wedged in small spaces and hawking goods like shiny talismans, textured leather goods, spiced teas, tall rolls of carpet, colorful mounds of spices, stacks of porcelain plates, curvy silver swords, and big baskets of dried fruit—the oldest quarter in Marrakech is a lot to take in, let alone make sense of. But such are the talents of the team behind Barométre Marrakech, in the more modern neighborhood of Guéliz, which has constructed a clever menu of cocktails from another overload of elements. Here tinctures, fresh herbs, apothecary jars, African spices, hand-pump perfumes, brewery-style pipes and mysterious potions crowd the bar area.

Noor • Split

I make the drinks for the best bar in the world. The book writer guy writes the descriptions. The bartenders’ skills, meanwhile, emerge as mesmerizing as those of the snake charmers in the Old City square: staffers in leather aprons blowtorch spices and assemble cocktails in geometric vessels that resemble art installations. The swirl of fan favorites at the subterranean spot, with the giant metal “B” out front, include the geranium-cucumber Jimi Hendricks (from the eponymous gin) and the Bloody Warhol, a Mediterranean take on a Bloody Mary served in a Campbell's Soup can. But the real coup is clear: the 2-year-old restaurant bar has captured the essence of the bustling Medina with a drink called the Marrakech Market, a flavor kaleidoscope of cinnamon whisky, muddled saffron, fresh orange, and Moroccan date syrup that all connect beautifully, flanked by dried fruit and served in a tall clay cylinder that matches the look and feel of the historic district’s ochre walls and even the taste of its smoky and aromatic air. 54

Raven • Pilzen

Bokamorra • Split


The hands-on owner-operators behind the city’s first mixology-style spot, brothers Hadni and Soufiane Hamza, work the floor relentlessly, and with genuine enthusiasm. Meanwhile, celebrated Chef Badr Chguifi has a good thing going on the culinary side, conjuring thoughtful fusion plates like Moroccan wheat pasta, or mhamssa, done risotto-style, with clams and a saffron emulsion. The most inspiring aspect besides the menu is Barometre’s progressive eco-consciousness. Every scrap of unused farmers-market fruit and veg are dried, pickled or go into macerations, while leaves and seeds are saved to smoke the glass barware with B’s signature botanical aromas. The kitchen uses only transparent trash bags, so team members can easily spot unnecessary waste. “Good things do not have to be complicated,” Hadni says.

Stina Vina • Bol

For now, craft drinks remain a novelty in Morocco, partly because finding good cocktails in a deeply observant Muslim country is a little like hunting for avocados in Alaska—this is the land of hashish, not hooch. Uncorking wine, including very worthy homegrown Moroccan Syrahs, is noticeably easier, but all of it becomes that much more challenging during the holy month of Ramadan, when stores stop selling booze altogether. Ramadan did provide inspiration to attempt a different sort of beverage exploration: I spent two days fasting from food and drink during daylight hours, as do observant Muslims for several weeks straight. Morocco famously produces some of the best orange juice on the planet, and after 13 hours of thinking about it day two, I’ve never craved it so desperately, or enjoyed it as much come sundown. More via Barometre Marrakech’s Facebook page.

Split, Croatia In the Old City of Split, on the coast of Croatia, right next to a wide pedestrian promenade along the Adriatic Sea, sits a new restaurant-bar that presents a why-didn’t-I-think-ofthat? concept: Bokamorra Pizzaurant & Cocktails. Yes, pizza and cocktails, arguably the two best things ever, executed with style, and in harmony.

Pilsner Urquell • Pilzen

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The highlights of the pizza menu are many, and provide a delicious reminder Croatia makes pies to rival Italy, its Adriatic neighbor, number one trade partner and source of significant cultural and culinary influence. In fact, the Neapolitan pizza style and beautiful gold-tiled pizza oven Bokamorra deploys both hail from the birthplace of pizza, Naples, Italy. Divine pizzas, including the smoked prawn, spicy Calabrese, and figpistachio-honey evoke a chorus of “Oh! mmmm”s thanks to charred crusts and an alchemy of chewy-salty-cheesy texture and flavor. Against a glowing green wall of Tanqueray bottles, the gin-heavy Prohibition-style cocktail program is every bit as memorable, with the likes of the Silent Negroni made with Silent Pool Gin, local Pelinkovac bitters (see story, opposite page), fortified wine and lemon liqueur, or the Minoxidil with mezcal, more Pelinkovac (this is a good thing), lemon and thyme. A short walk from Bokamorra, through narrow streets supporting massive stone walls inside what was once a Roman imperial palace, takes drinkers to Noor Bar. This was a Shakers must-visit for three reasons: 1) It’s dubbed as “the biggest small bar in the world"; 2) Local industry pros recommend it enthusiastically; 3) One of my favorite and most innovative drinkmakers in California is named Noor himself (Temoor Noor of Grand Tavern in Oakland). Along a shining gold bar beneath mirrored ceilings and a lanky chandelier, cocky barkeep Jan Martinović brings the drink-making

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intuition to match his ego. He sections the menu around four flavor fundamentals: salty, sweet, sour and umami, and the drinks are good enough to excuse the overwrought descriptions. Take the Sea Soul, from the salty column: The tasting notes runneth over (“An early summer summer motorcycle ride on a Dalmatian island, the light breeze from the sea blesses you with salt while the smell of wild herbs whispers aromatic promises to your ear”), but the combination of Botanist Gin, Hidden Vermouth, pomegranate syrup, oyster juice and lavender really works. “I make the drinks for the best bar in the world,” Martinović says. “The book-writer-guy writes the descriptions." Another inventive standout springs from the umami side of the menu: Carrotus Insanis, with Brazilian Velho Barriero Cachaca, carrot juice, North African harissa spice, grapefruit juice, cardamom syrup and ginger beer. Yes. There are other discoveries to be had in Split—and best experienced before more tourists hear tale of its beaches, stunning offshore islands and historic Roman roots. That includes upstart brewery outfit LAB, the city’s first, which is both pioneering craft beer and graciously sharing the knowledge that goes into it with new independent brewers across the country. “Being a pioneer is fun,” brewer-owner Peter Boacka says. “But it’s not easy.”


Restless Spirit

Eastern Europe plays host to a bold regional rival to storied absinthe. By Blair Ellis Step aside, absinthe. Pelinkovac may in fact be the more elegant guest at the bar, comparatively unknown but equally (if not more) intriguing and seductive, which makes it that much more of a revelation. I was first introduced to this Eastern European creation at Three Volta bar in Split, Croatia—one of the last true local bars built into the walls of the 1,800-year-old fortress that is Diocletian’s Palace and doubles as Split’s Old City. Poured from an inverted bottle fastened to an wood-paneled wall, the drink was dressed by my bartender with nothing other than a slice of lemon and an ice cube. A confident drink. The light brown liqueur has a slight viscosity to it, telltale legs, and a slightly smoky aroma, fragrant with nature—like the floor of a forest you’d happily drink. In fact, that magical forest element is wormwood. Wormwood, used traditionally all the way back to the time of Hippocrates, as an anti-inflammatory, anti-parasitic, and liver-tonifying herb, most infamous for its use in absinthe, and now experiencing a revival in health-conscious circles as a way to maintain an optimal gut biome. Pelinkovac’s flavor is laid-back but robust; the 32-percent ABV liqueur travels wide across the bitter side of the palate, carried along by a 22-herb entourage which manages to glide through a multinote ode to the days when spirits like this were justified as stomach palatives. Pelinkovac carries an unmistakably bitter taste, but the bitterness becomes entirely acceptable over the course of each sip. That’s a real gentleman’s trick. I convince myself that I will need another to further explore how they did it. I meet this spirit once again on the Croatian island of Brac in the pristine port of Bol. This time, it’s the Badel Antique Pelinkovac, a limited edition premium label made using Badel’s founder Franco Pokorny’s original recipe and a distillate refined in traditional copper kettles. This one’s movements are marked with a richer flavor and a bit more travel between the notes than Badel’s basic label. On its first release in 1872 awards and recognitions were given, Napoleon Bonaparte claimed fandom, and then this understated dandy of a drink laid low for 146 years. While it can be found all over Balkan countries, for now curious seekers in the States will have to dig on the web to find it. It’s worth the hunt. Find Pelinkovac at tastebrandy.com. SHAKERS > INSPIRING SPIRITS

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Stina Vino is another one: For those in need of an excuse to get to the divine islands off Split’s coast—truth be told, any excuse at all works— Stina fits the bill. Its totally island-grown Croatian varietals, like the superb Posip and Plavac, flow in an idyllic old stone warehousewinery in the city of Bol on the stunning island of Brač.

Prague’s cocktail destinations expand from there. American iconinspired bars like Malkovich’s, Bukowski’s and Hemingway’s all merit a pilgrimage for Old-World ambiance and inventions like the Malkovich Old-Fashioned and The Green Dragon, with lime juice, gin, a touch of sugar and a sly dose of wasabi.

But the newest—and best—drinks along this part of the planet belong to the Old City.

But while the cocktail scene is strong here, it’s the one-and-only birthplace of pilsner. Prague has been called the City of Love and the City of 100 Spires, but it could just as easily be called The City of Beer—as it should be for a populace that drinks more beer per person than any other in the world (and sorry, Germany, it’s not even really close). Here, beer is the best buy for the buck, and loyal servers’ default is to refresh steins well before the previous beer is bye-bye.

More at Bokamorra’s Facebook page, noor.bar.com, stina-vino.hr and lab-split.com.

Prague, Czech Republic There are plenty of factors that make new Crazy Daisy an appropriately named drink landmark. Nestled in the heart of Prague’s Staré Mesto (or Old Town), it spools moving video of local street art and underwater scenery on the wall. It hosts a beautiful oblong bar at its sunken center. It features a white grand piano set amid cathedrallike shelves of glowing liquor bottles. But the coolest element is perfect for this travelogue: In a thoughtful interplay between place and flavor, recipe and identity, destination and drink, the cocktail menu folds out to reveal a map of the Czech capital, with 13 dramatic creations inspired by different city sites. Drinks, in the hands of Crazy Daisy, can take you places. Revelations include The Kolbenka, a tribute to the city’s industrial area. It's made with Mezcal El Señorino, rhubarb juice and a homemade pepper-tomato-rosemary cordial that’s all combined with smoke in a glass skull. That allows clouds of charred cherrywood to mate with the mezcal, gentle tomato flavor and brave rhubarb’s brightness. It is totally different, and totally delicious. “It’s an original flavor for me,” bartender Filip Štumper says. “I love making new flavors with new technologies. It’s not work, it’s life.” Other rewarding results range from John Lennon’s Wall (with Rittenhouse Rye Whisky, apricot brandy, Frenet Branca and Daisy’s own mushroom-laced vermouth, inspired by the much-photographed graffiti spot) to Perlovka (Tanqueray gin, pulverized almonds, raspberries, campari and lime, served in a slipper-like glass pipe and inspired by the city’s red light district). Across the menu map, ingredients like pumpkin, lemongrass lemonade, tobacco, chocolate crisps and lavender perfume all surprise and satisfy. 58

“If you trip and fall here,” one veteran traveler told Shakers, “you land in beer.” The original inventors of pilsner await in the city of Pilzen (a lessthan-two-hour train from Prague), which holds the distinction of being the largest European city liberated by Americans in World War II. The big black steel doors and towering doorway to Pilsner Urquell feel historic, and they are. Here, Josef Groll crafted the first golden lager of its kind in 1842, and the original recipe remains in use, with all of its tedious triple decoction and lagering-barrel parallel brewing it requires. The highlights of the tour include nibbles of barley malt and peeks at the original and current glowing copper mash tuns. And—oh yes, y’all—the only tastes of unfiltered Pilsner Urquell available anywhere, right from the huge wooden barrels in the cool depths of the big brewery’s underground labyrinth. Pro tip: A subsequent visit to nearby Raven Brewery provides a nice small-batch counterpoint, with creative takes from the team behind the country’s first sour beers. At the industrial-chic brewery-bar, the finds include a clever selection of IPAs like the Lemongrass, Hells Bells high-gravity and a surprisingly successful Mango Sticky Rice. It’s all worth a toast. In Czech, as one helpful expat pointed it, “Cheers” sounds a lot like “Nice driveway” (“Na zdraví”). I’ll just stick with “Neboj.” > More at crazydaisy.cz, pilsnerurquell.com and pivovar-raven.cz.


Prague

Marrakech

Hvar Island

Marrakech

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EXPERIENCE

First Bike on the Right Bike Tour

A treatise on cycling through NorCal in search of the Holy Grail that is the ‘First Bar on the Right.’ By George Z. Peterson

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rom colonial times to present day, this continent has played home to taverns, saloons, public houses, ale houses and bars that work as far more than watering holes. They serve as the center of town life and a place for wayward travelers to seek food, drinks and even shelter. As a longtime—and long-distance—bicycle tourist, I’ve pedaled all over the country and Europe, over decades, in search of what this centuries-old tradition means in today’s world. When I was a fledgling bike rider I was taught when steering into a new town to head for the proverbial (and sometimes actual) first bar on the right. By now, I’ve come to realize meeting old friends for the first time over food and drink is an integral part of any adventure I want. Right before I filed my story for this issue of Shakers, my friends and I rolled out for a multi-day bike trek across Northern California, starting at the Taproom at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. in Chico. Here are some of the downhome spots that took our adventure to another gear.

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Tackle Box Bar and Grill

Mt. Saint Helena Brewing Company and Brannan’s Grill

This Chico standby was open early for breakfast, and there was an astonishing amount of people milling around this large and eclectically decorated bar-restaurant for a morning shift. Our bartender Jess told us they were putting together massive amounts of emergency meals for Cal-Fire firefighters that they hand-deliver throughout the state. The place was hopping. Jess started us off with spicy Bloody Marys with assorted pickled delights and the smart kicker: a hint of Guinness. Delicious. With my omelet I had a stellar Greyhound with fresh squeezed grapefruit juice. Also delicious. The Box also has a beautiful wood-fired, Italian-style pizza oven and a massive amount of beers on tap from around California and beyond (plus live music by night). It made for an awesome first morning.

The next morning we departed early and, after several hours of power pedaling through an increasingly green countryside, we stopped for lunch and beers at MSHBC. This little gem of a brewery is heavily laden with locals and was presided over by Rob, a retired sheriff who took an immediate liking to our ragtag group. Rob recommended the tostada pizza paired with the Fire Amber and the Canadian Bacon Burger with their India Pale Ale. They didn’t disappoint. The amber was a beautiful color with hints of malt and a whisper of citrus. The IPA was a full-on, high-ABV classic California brew that accentuated the char of the flame-broiled burger. The tostada pizza was simply a revelation.

More at tackleboxchico.com.

Cactus Grill

From there we climbed 20 miles over a busy mountain pass, hugging the side of the road as trucks pulling boats and semis sped past us, inches from our bikes. After a fast 8-mile downhill we descended upon our next destination: Brannan’s in Calistoga, a Napa Valley institution since 1998. We toasted the climb over dinner and drinks. This night, as fate would have it, marked Brannan’s last as a well-loved locals favorite. The best way to celebrate was with the classic cocktails that have given them a reputation as a respite for people over-Pinot’d in the heart of Wine Country. My favorite is the Branhattan made with Bulleit Rye Whiskey, sweet vermouth, a dash of bitters and Griotte dark red sour cherries, which balance beautifully between tart and sweet. Also tasty was the Cucumber Cooler with muddled cucumber, cilantro, fresh lime, ginger beer and “optional” vodka. The place will be missed. Like owners Mike and Ron told their loyal followers, “It’s been a good run, but time to move on.” So away we rolled.

Day two, our plan was to pedal over 60 miles with no food or water other than what we could carry—in temps in excess of 110 degrees. Forty-one of those miles had no services and very little shade. After a long and blistering day winding through the barren landscape, we eventually made it to Clearlake, California, where the sky had a darkish orange hue and the air was thick with smoke from a newly sparked fire that eventually became the expansive Mendocino Complex fire. We found much needed refuge from the heat (still over 100) at the Cactus Grill, a fantastic family-run oasis where we devoured huge plates of vibrant Mexican food—artichoke quesadillas, garlic shrimp tacos and huge “Fresh Mex” salads with creamy chipotle dressing—and classic fruit-blended agave Margaritas and ice cold Mexican beers. Suddenly More at mtsthelenabrewery.com and brannansgrill.com. our insane ride was well worth it. More via tripadvisor.com.

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The Slanted Door

Forty-one of those miles had no services and very little shade. R+D Kitchen The clear highlight of Day 4—which also featured a ride through along the Silverado Trail, is the test kitchen and bar for the Hill Stone restaurant group. It’s located steps from a new bike path, has a fantastic patio and carefully handcrafted cocktails. According to Kim, a local F&B industry player who owns a Kava distribution company located in St. Helena (California) that supplies much of the valley, we had to try the margarita with Azunia Blanco tequila and house-made sweet and sour. “The common cocktail done uncommonly well,” as the menu proclaims, and both the menu and Kim were spot on: It was simple but sophisticated, with layered and nuanced flavors of agave, lemon, lime and salt that were greater than the sum of their parts. I would bike the length of this great state and back for a peek at the recipe. This esteemed bar-on-the-right also does my personal drink of choice, a Negroni, in a straightforward, classic and smart way, with Juniper gin, Campari and vermouth. They know better than to mess with perfection.

All told we pedaled well over 250 miles in a few days, buoyed brilliantly by a ye old pub spirit that’s alive and toasting across California. We successfully capped our First Bar on the Right Bike Tour with a boat. The ferry from Vallejo should include the Mare Island Brew Co’s Taphouse at the ferry terminal, before a drift into San Francisco for cocktails and lunch (in that order) at The Slanted Door, where I promptly asked for a Western Sour. This interesting drink rides into tastebud territory with Old Bardstown Bourbon, grapefruit juice, Caribbean-born Falernum sweet syrup and lime. Subtle sweetness with hints of almond complement the balanced caramel flavor and oak finish. While Slanted Door is rightly celebrated for Charles Phan’s Vietnamese food mastery, its cocktails merit more attention than they get. Given a chance to reflect on our bigger West Coast ride over my sour, the raging wildfires provided some perspective. While our mission felt like an accomplishment, it was clear who’s doing the hard work. Cheers and thank you to all of the firefighters, police and first responders who toiled so relentlessly to protect people and property from harm. > More at mareislandbrewingco.com and slanteddoor.com/ drink.

More at rd-kitchen.com/locations/yountville/.

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The Club at Pasadera: Making Big Moves Enjoying the evolution of a luxury experience is both easy and breathtaking.

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ou may not have yet heard, but as the song goes, “There’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on” at The Club at Pasadera.

Located off Scenic Highway 68 near the Laguna Seca Raceway, the former thoroughbred horse ranch was reborn in 2000 as the community of Pasadera, with homes surrounding a beautiful Mediterranean-themed club, restaurant and sports destination featuring the only Jack Nicklaus signature golf course on the Central Coast, the world capital of golf. Several local businesspeople who support the Monterey community took over the former Nicklaus Club Monterey in November 2018. The new ownership is committed to whatever it takes to succeed in top-tier hospitality and golf resort management. Exhibits A and B would be the new involvement of renowned Monterey hospitality executive Ted Balestreri and the arrival of new Executive Chef Colin Moody, a Monterey Bay Area culinary “Chef of the Year” who has joined after 10 years at Monterey Peninsula Country Club. Colin is also respected for his work at Asilomar and Highlands Inn Pacific Edge. Members are already giving two big thumbs-up to the delicious offerings at the Club’s weekly member socials and themed Sunday dinner specials. To go with the excellent cuisine, The Club keeps multiple fully stocked bars and a variety of fine hand-selected wines on hand. It hosts several popular wine events each year including its long-running Holiday Wine Tasting Event. With a philosophy of “unbuttoned luxury,” The Club warmly welcomes family memberships. The many amenities include the outstanding (and challenging) Jack Nicklaus signature golf course, five tournament-quality tennis courts, heated saltwater adult lap pool, family pool, spa, driving range, professional-grade fitness center, yoga and trainer studios, men’s and women’s lounges, pro shop and multiple indoor/outdoor dining and meeting locations. There also are five guest rooms in the Lodge. The Club at Pasadera’s new ownership is dedicated to giving members, their families and guests, wedding parties, planners and special event organizers a world-class hospitality experience. Additional amenities are in development, while the number of members is limited to ensure that everyone can be comfortably and courteously accommodated. The Club is located at 100 Pasadera Drive, just five minutes from the Monterey Regional Airport off Highway 68. Call for a visit and personal tour: 831-647-2400.

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DESTINATION

Bourbon Country, Kentucky

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Onto Bourbon’s Birthplace A pilgrimage into the heart of Kentucky’s time-honored whiskey country mandates a visit to three key pillars (at least).

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By Jeff Moses

entucky holds three things in the highest esteem: bourbon, church and bourbon. OK, racehorses too. Bourbon, it turns out, was a thing before Kentucky was a state, and long before Secretariat barreled down the home stretch to win the Triple Crown.

Speaking of barrels, there’s an old one mounted on the wall at Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown that explains that piece of the history. “Before Kentucky became a state in 1792, a huge portion of it was Bourbon County, Virginia,” the inscription reads. “Even after a number of new counties were created, folks continued to call the area east of Lexington ‘Old Bourbon.’” Little old Bardstown sits at the center of it all, and owns a place at the beginning of it all, too, as that’s where bourbon was born. The Kentucky Bourbon Trail runs through Bardstown. The picturesque place has been named the most beautiful small town in America, as a wooden sign in the center of town declares. Thanks to vintage main street and bourbon boutique shops—selling single-barrel and hard-to-find bourbons from local distillates—any whiskey lover would be hard pressed to call it anything other than really really purty. People say "Hello" walking down the street—and by people, that means everybody—and an AllAmerican neighborly feel predominates. Everybody is also seemingly engaged in bourbon—like it’s not a job, or a town mascot, but a way of life. It’s the type of place where it’s hard not to smile the whole time, and a destination that could double as a Hollywood movie set. And that’s not the bourbon talking, though that helps.

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You watched 'The Hustler,' the clerk said.

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No fewer than a dozen distilleries call the town home, and Shakers sought out three on the Kentucky Bourbon trail: Heaven Hill in Bardstown, Maker’s Mark in neighboring Loretto and Four Roses in the next town over, Lawrenceburg. One key discovery along the pilgrimage was the locally sown distinction “bottled-in-bond.” That’s the term given by the law of the land dictating any spirit claiming that name, as of 1890, has to be 100-proof and spend four years or more barrel-aged, as supervised by the U.S. government alcohol division, to authenticate its yearly, singular production and bottling. That means no adding coloring or neutral grain spirits, and an assurance any product with that stamp is made on distillery property. That usually happens with 8- to 10-story “rickhouses” (which some people call “rackhouses”), which use natural heat to bring the best flavorful aging qualities out of the barrel, another deeply Kentucky thing. “Bottled-In-Bond is the best deal in bourbon,” said one clerk at a boutique spirit shop, who had clearly been there for decades, as he rummaged around the selves for the rare bottle of JTS Brown Bourbon, 100 proof Bottled-In-Bond, that Shakers sought. “You watched The Hustler,” the clerk said during the search, referencing the iconic Paul Newman billiards movie in which Newman’s character asks for that by name. Quick pro tip: Stay in Bardstown, right on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail—and not Lexington or Louisville—as there are tons of quaint motels and the feel of the town is a definite highlight…and the less driving, the better. The longer bourbon trail itself includes some 16 distilleries (Wild Turkey, WIllford Reserve, Jim Beam and Bulleit among them). For the fully inspired palate, a tasting trek can easily consume several days. Shakers stuck to three in Kentucky, which means “meadow lands” in several different Native American languages and also goes by the "Bluegrass State,” a nickname inspired on the regional foliage found in many of its pastures. That's due to the fertile soil in the central region of the bourbon territory. Here appear Shakers’ top stops in descending order of size:

Maker’s Mark Distillery This place is designed for higher volume production and higher volume tours alike, but you do reserve the right to have your bottle dipped in red wax with the help of professional dippers (if you’re interested in playing with wax). For some reason, a more mature bourbon audience seemed to migrate here, with tasting included in the tour, but not the tasting room. The experience is more Disneyland than the others, with the old Kentucky original house serving as the welcome mat, and gorgeous Bluegrass rolling hills and white picket fences that seem to stretch on forever. More at Markersmark.com.

Heaven Hill Distillery Paul Newman deserves some credit for this part of the mission, as the Heaven Hill original brand (JTS Brown) is what “Fast Eddie” Felson favors in the movie 1961 classic movie, The Hustler. Heaven Hill also makes claim of Elijah Craig, Evan Williams and Rittenhouse Straight Rye, all counted among the list of over 100-plus brands produced at this early-1900s distillery. The highlights from the tasting—set against a museum-like backdrop with enough history to make a spirits nerd ecstatic—included high-end, high-proof crazy-smooth Evan Williams single barrel finds. Big malty flavors with sweetness on the palate and an incredibly smooth finish make that memorable. On top of that, an easy-drinking Mellow Corn, a whiskey discovery bottled-in-bond for less than $15, takes the whiskey wonders to new heights. Among all these brands made at the facility, 25 are available for purchase and around a dozen are pre-loaded for tastings. More at HeavenHill.com

Four Roses Distillery Here the pros stick to one brand’s tasting and one tasting only. It’s the diverse mashbill, which includes 35 percent rye, that makes Four Roses a whiskey lover’s favorite. In a quaint, friendly and attentive spot in Lawrenceburg (just outside Bardstown), they pour tastes of “regular” (yellow label), “small-batch” (tan label) and “single-barrel” (embossed bottle). Four Roses has the feel of distillery that’s been around since the late 1800s (and it has), and visitors essentially drive through the distillery to get to the tasting room. An impressive experience awaits. > More at fourrosesbourbon.com

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MIXING IT UP

Club at Pasadera Holiday Wine Tasting

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DIY COCKTAIL

Sand City

Forest Old-Fashioned By Katie Blandin Shea | Photo by Ryan Chard Smith

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ike a classic car, the Old-Fashioned cocktail will never go out of style. It’s a sophisticated choice, and I give that sophistication a little modern spark, curated with all California ingredients, and gin instead of whiskey. The resulting flavor is light, herbaceous, cool and minty— reminiscent of a drive down Highway 1. I mean, what’s more invigorating than the cool Pacific Ocean breeze, salty fresh air, and aromatic California bay laurel? Well, maybe driving down the coast in what was voted most elegant sports car at 2017's Pebble Beach Concours, the 1955 Ferrari 375 Plus Pinan Farina. Happy 100th birthday, Pebble Beach. • • • • •

2.5 oz. Alley 6 Harvest Gin 0.25 oz. Golden Bear Bitters California Bay Laurel Syrup 0.25 oz. Golden Bear Bitters California Native Plant Bitters 1 small pinch of sea salt Peels of lemon and orange

Add all ingredients except for the citrus peels into a mixing glass filled generously with ice. Stir for 45 seconds. Strain into a rocks glass, over one large ice cube. Express the oils of a lemon and orange peel into the glass. And enjoy. > More at goldenbearbitters.com

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Tid Bits By Otis Conklin

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Humphrey Bogart famously said, “The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind.” Enter TidBits, which with every issue of Shakers seeks to keep savvy drinkers and professionals on top of what’s happening in the beverage world, if not a few drinks ahead. Send your tidbits for consideration to info@shakers.com. >


Jack Being Nimble Liquid Lady Power

Female mixologists have dominated Shakers’ pages from its opening sip, but this represents the magazine’s the first chance to spotlight a full-on cocktail book from their ranks. After celebrated stints at Houston’s Anvil Bar & Refuge and Pastry War, Alba Huerta opened Julep in 2014. Last year she released Julep: Southern Cocktails Refashioned (Ten Speed Press), a dynamite resource with 65 recipes, flavorful anecdotes and other Southern rituals—and a half dozen takes on her signature julep.

Jack Daniel's could rest on its liquor laurels. But it does not. Jack Daniel’s Rye came to market in 2017—proving to be a solid value— and its bottled-in-bond arrived this summer (for more on bondedin-bond, see p. 71), making it the only Tennessee whiskey made that way. JD's latest debut arrived in October: “Heritage Barrel,” which nods to the process of barrel-making, or cooperage, and the claim Jack Daniel’s is the only major whiskey outfit in the world constructing its own barrels (from American white oak). This special edition of the so-called Single-Barrel Collection is capped at 200 barrels hand-picked by Master Distiller Jeff Arnett. More at jackdaniels.com.

More at crownpublishing.com/archives/imprint/ten-speedpress.

Sustainable Flavor

Sostener represents a forward-thinking team game between two Monterey County grower/vintners—Steve McIntyre (McIntyre Vineyards) and Michael Thomas (Wrath)—who have a thing for affordable, high-grade Pinot Noir from the storied Santa Lucia Highlands. Sostener is Spanish for “to sustain” and works as their homage to eco-friendly viticulture, in which both wine houses have been trailblazers. Their first 2015 vintage, sourced from all SIP-certified vineyards within 20 miles of their winery, is now available in New York, New Jersey, Texas and California. The Shakers taste test reveals an elegant balance and the allure of smoked red fruit.

Now they’ve got another interesting bit of trailblazing happening.

More at jandlwines.com/sostener/.

A Toast to the Most

Drinks International ranks the "World’s 50 Best Bars," and now has drawn from that research, and a poll of 106 of the world’s most celebrated watering holes’ best-selling drinks. The somewhat surprising top 10 for 2018: 10) Mojito, 9) Espresso martini, 8) Moscow mule, 7) Manhattan, 6) Margarita, 5) Daiquiri, 4) Dry martini, 3) Whiskey sour, 2) Negroni and 1) Old-fashioned. More at drinksint.com.

Healthy Growth ¡Salud! has been a pioneer for two decades, launching a nonprofit fueled by Oregon winery owners to partner with Tuality Healthcare physicians to supply vineyard workers with basic healthcare with mobile clinics and other resources. Now they’ve got another interesting bit of trailblazing happening with the Big Board Auction & Pinot Party last fall at Ponzi Vineyards, where some prime 12-bottle cases from 39 premium vintners went on the block exclusively for ¡Salud!. Despite the event selling out, wine lovers can continue to contribute via the regularly updated website. More at saludauction.org. SHAKERS > INSPIRING SPIRITS

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COOKING WITH SPIRITS Central Coast

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Red Wine Braised Beef Braising a beef chuck roast in red wine is my definition of comfort food. Another bonus is the food aromatherapy, which means a great dish is in the making. Another thing I love about this dish is that it's a one-pot creation, marrying the red wine and herbs with the beef—so rich and decadent. This delicious savory dish can be served so many ways, with a variety of sides. I chose carrots, onions and add skillet potatoes.  Other choices; polenta, pasta, rice, gnocchi, risotto or vegetables. All work wonderfully. When cooking with red wine, I pick one that's not priced on the highest end. Definitely pick a bottle you can savor and sip along while cooking. Enjoy! Ingredients: 3 tablespoons butter, plus 1 tablespoon for later 12 baby carrots, cut and peeled 1 medium size sweet onion 2  celery stock, cut 1/2 inch 1-3 lb. beef chuck Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste 3/4 bottle of red wine 2 sprigs of rosemary 2 bay leaves 2 teaspoons minced garlic 2 teaspoons thyme                                                                                                          Directions: In a Dutch oven (or heavy oven-proof pot), heat pot to hot and add 3 tablespoon butter. Add carrots, cook for 10 minutes, then add onions and celery, stirring occasionally. Cook until caramelized, remove vegetables from pot using a slotted spoon and set aside in a bowl. Take beef and generously add, on both sides, salt and pepper. In Dutch oven add remaining butter, heat to hot, and add meat browning on each side. Remove meat and set aside on plate. Add wine and scrape all the goodness from bottom of pot. Add rosemary, bay leaves, garlic, thyme and vegetables and meat. Cover and cook 3-4 hours; beef should eventually fall apart easily by using a fork. Before serving drizzle sauce/gravy on top. For thicker consistency of sauce/gravy add a tablespoon (or more depending on your preference of thickness) of cornstarch to a 1/4 cup of cold water, heat and stir till bubbly stage and serve. Serves 8. And tastes great. > More at DeliciousandSimple.net. SHAKERS > INSPIRING SPIRITS

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D E S T I N AT I O N Barrel House Brewing Company

Sweet Sour Truth

Barrel House Brewing does daringly different craft beer (and superior sours) in stylish settings that have it poised to open a fourth spot. By Stuart Thornton

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n just five years, Paso Roble’s BarrelHouse Brewing Co. has become the largest family-owned-and-operated craft brewery in San Luis Obispo County. It has done that while also making a wildly varied lineup of beers including IPAs, sour beers, stouts, and limited release one-offs that are only available in their taprooms. Billy Thompson, a lead spokesman for BarrelHouse, believes his company’s diverse beer offerings originate from the brewers’ humble beginnings. “Just like a lot of craft breweries out there, BarrelHouse has its roots with our owners and founders brewing out of their garage,” he says. “So, you have got these guys who are coming up with recipes on their own with the beers that they like to drink and creating something completely new where their palates guide them.” The beers that BarrelHouse brews don’t hew to strict guidelines—whether it’s their popular Mango IPA or their pineapple chamomile sour ale. “We try to make these really balanced beers overall so that we can attract new people not only to the craft scene but to what different styles can be,” Thompson says. That attitude is a key reason BarrelHouse doesn’t enter tasting contests. “You won’t find our beers in any competitions because we brew beers that we like to drink,” its website announces. “Many of our beers don’t fit within [Beer Judge Certification Program] style guidelines and we don’t care. “If someone tells us that our blonde is too hoppy, we say, ‘You're welcome.’ If someone says that we should enter our beer in competitions, we say, ‘Just because you have a nice car, doesn’t mean you need to take it to car shows.’”

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With so many beers being brewed—including two new sour ales released every four to six weeks along with one to two new other specialty brews about every month—where does a discerning beer drinker begin? Thompson recommends the Curly Wolf Russian Imperial Stout, which is aged in bourbon barrels, and the Paso Wild, another dynamic sour beer. “I’m a big fan of imperial stouts, and I love bourbon,” Thompson says of the former. “The Curly Wolf in terms of a recipe just glimmers on everything I love about that style of beer." Thompson is equally excited about the Paso Wild. “It’s got a wonderful lemon citrus note that cuts through it,” he says. “It’s just incredibly balanced.” Though BarrelHouse’s beers are distributed through most of California and also in the Pacific Northwest, it might be best to drink them in the Paso Robles Brewery and Gardens, the San Luis Obispo Taproom, or the Visalia Taproom. (They are also opening a fourth taproom soon in a soonto-be-announced location.) The Paso Robles facility is home to the brewery but also has a sprawling beer garden that can accommodate 1,200 people with a water feature, an amphitheater and a stage. The taproom allows beer drinkers to drink the brews right where they were made. “We want you to be in the mix of what we are doing,” Thompson says. “You can get up, crack a beer, and talk to one of the brewers.” Despite BarrelHouse’s rapid success and expansion, Thompson notes that the company has modest future goals. “For us, we are not looking to take over the world,” he says. “Our biggest focus is let’s make great beer and make it for our fans.” > More at BarrelHousebrewing.com. 84


You won’t find our beers in any competitions because we brew beers that we like to drink.

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Profile for Shakers Magazine

Shakers Mag 7.0  

the idea | distilled... to stir curiosity around a booming industry and the personalities that make it shake.

Shakers Mag 7.0  

the idea | distilled... to stir curiosity around a booming industry and the personalities that make it shake.

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