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FOOD & WINE, RECIPES, FEATURES & MORE

Ryan Dierks

TA S T Y TIDBITS

T H E A RT O F T H E C R A F T C O C K TA I L

From snow to soup

S T O R Y & P H O T O S B Y P R I YA H U T N E R

R

yan Dierks, co-owner of the Truckee Tavern & Grill, has a reputation. If you want a cocktail in Truckee, he is one of the masters of the art of craft cocktails. The bar features all manner of unique bottles of spirits and Dierks knows his stuff. “Cocktail programs are a whole different animal,” says Dierks, who is also the bar manager. He and his staff prep for hours to make the bar ready for an evening. The infusions, bitters and syrups used in the cocktails are all made in house; the garnishes are cut to precision and lined up along the bar creating a beautiful setting for the eye to behold. They use all fresh juices and cut their own ice cubes with a chain saw.

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Watch the video on how Truckee Tavern makes ice cubes with a chain saw

You won’t find a soda gun at this establishment. If you ask for a rum and coke, you get a Coca Cola classic in a bottle. If you order a drink with tonic, Q-tonic and Fentimans are the two brands behind the bar. Dierks and his bartenders wield a hand-held soda siphon that makes seltzer using Truckee water. The siphon has been used in bars since the 1800s. Truckee

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Barrel-aged aromatic bitters with subtle hints of orange and coconut flakes laced with golden raisins are used to prepare the Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. Tavern & Grill also makes its own ginger syrup using a blend of raw and cooked ginger. If you are a fan of ginger beer, they make that, too. “We do as much in house as possible and if someone can produce it better, we buy it,” says Dierks. The bitters for the establishment’s cocktails are sensational. Barrel-aged aromatic bitters with subtle hints of orange and coconut flakes laced with golden raisins are used to prepare the Old Fashioneds and Manhattans. Banana bitters are used for rum drinks and saffron cardamom bitters are used for Gin Fizz cocktails. “Dealers Choice” is one of Truckee Tavern’s most popular cocktails on the menu. The bartenders ask their customers a few pertinent questions about their preferences: do they like citrus or boozy, fruity or herbal? Do they have a spirit of choice? These questions give the bartender a sense of what type of cocktail they will 38

Tahoe City Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area hosts a Yurt Dinner Fundraiser on Feb. 11 from 6 to 9 p.m. Guests will ski or snowshoe to the ski area’s Yellow Hut for hot beverages, a bonfire and laser-guided star tour and telescope viewing with resident outreach astronomer Gigi. Ski or snowshoe rentals are included. At 7:30 p.m., Tahoe XC Junior Ski Team will serve three different soups, fresh breads, fresh salad and an array of desserts. Water and non-alcoholic beverages included; guests may also bring a favorite beverage. A door prize is up for grabs. There are only 50 spots available. | Register tahoexc.org

design for their customers. “It’s about good customer service. Giving them what they want yet introducing them to something they don’t necessarily know about,” Dierks says. Dierks doesn’t want to be called a mixologist. “Being a bartender is about an authentic human experience between you and the customer. The bar is hallowed ground, a place where CEOs and plumbers sit together and shed the weight of the day. The bartender is the emcee,” he says. “It’s a place to meet new people, have good conversation over a good cocktail. Making a good cocktail is another tool in the tool box.” Many of the craft cocktail creations are inspired by the seasons. Dierks looks at produce availability and sets the menu from there. Dirty Martini’s are made with Truckee Tavern’s housemade brine: a blend of capers, olives, champagne vinegar and herbs. Currently, the tavern is serving up

music-themed cocktails, such as “Stairway to Heaven,” “Jolene,” “Pumpkin” and “Formerly Known As.” Dierks, a self proclaimed cocktail nerd, offers all manner of trivia and knowledge about the process of making and preparing the cocktails he serves. He reads books and blogs to drink up everything about the world of cocktails. A fun twist at Truckee Tavern is the cocktail classes. Every Saturday night through the winter season, Truckee Tavern will be hosting cocktail classes from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the side bar. “The purpose of the class is twofold: We want to offer people a different culinary experience and to help people be more confident as to what to order at a bar — not all bars are cocktail bars,” he says. Participants learn about cocktails in order to demystify them and make them more approachable and to learn the basic of ingredients of simple cocktails they can build on. Over the last two years the biggest thing that has changed for Dierks is how he has come to mentor people and share his love of craft cocktails. Jason Gifford, Ian Hadder, Michelle O’Shea and Bryce Tomberlin are the crew that tend bar with Dierks. Tomberlin won last year’s annual Bartender Competition at West Shore cafe. This year’s competition will be held on Feb. 26.  For more information or to register for the cocktail classes, call (530) 587-3766 or visit truckeetavern.com. Priya Hutner is a writer, health and wellness consultant, and natural foods chef. Her business, The Seasoned Sage, focuses on wellness, conscious eating and healthy living. She offers healthy organic meals for her clients. She may be reached at pria78@ gmail.com or visit theseasonedsage.com. Visit TheTahoeWeekly.com to read more.

Reno, Nev. Reno, the crawl capital of the world, announces its upcoming events. On Feb. 11, Mardi Crawl is from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. (not a typo). It starts at the West 2nd Street Bar; revelers collect beads at each of the 15 (no cover) bars on the crawl. Hotel discounts are available, too. The night includes entertainment, music and a costume contest; reserve a cup now. On March 11, get out your green clothing for the Leprechaun Crawl from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. For $5, guests receive a cup and map to more than 25 participating bars. Themed entertainment includes go-go dancers and DJs. On April 22, the Steampunk Stroll will take place from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. The fee is $10 for a premium mug and map. There will be a costume contest and entertainment. Upcoming crawls include: Epic Crawl/ Lightsaber Battle on June 3, Pirate Crawl on Aug. 19, Zombie Crawl/Thriller Dance on Oct. 21 and Pajama Crawl on Nov. 18. | Register crawlreno.com

Sweets for studies Carson City, Nev. The 18th Annual Feast of Chocolate presented by the American Association of University Women, Capital Branch is on Feb. 11 from 1 to 3 p.m. at Plaza Hotel & Event Center in Carson City, Nev. Enjoy chocolate samplings and participate in a raffle for prizes. The proceeds will benefit local scholarships and AAUW fellowships. The fee is $15, $12 for ages 65 and older. | (775) 267-3427

A sensory experience Reno, Nev. Sierra Music Society presents “Decadence, Divas & Divos,” an evening of food, wine, soloists and fun on Feb. 12 at 4 pm. at Fine Vines Wine Shop. For $75, guests will enjoy wine tastings and food pairings in three courses with a wine sommelier selecting and discussing the wines. Beautiful music sung by soloists from P’Opera! in an up-close-andpersonal setting will be the entertainment. This special Valentine’s treat promises to be an exceptional evening in which to indulge the senses. Seating is limited. | RSVP (775) 233-5105 or poperanv.org

Feb.9-22, 2017  

Dane Shannon blasts through winter during a moment of perfection on Tahoe's East Shore. Photography by Ryan Salm | RyanSalmPhotography.com @...