131. spring cocktails and wine at spoke

our idea of a perfect spring evening is sitting on a patio with something fresh and festive to drink. one of our favorite places to do this is at spoke in davis square. we are so excited to welcome spoke's liz mann to introduce us to some of her favorite selections from their spring cocktail and wine lists. she's even sharing a few of her recipes!

the cocktails

when it's time to change the cocktail list at spoke, the bar team collaborates to curate a thoughtful and dynamic selection for the season. we have three categories on our cocktail page: classics, modern, and proprietary. we also have a dessert cocktail section. classics are where we can geek out over old, sometimes pre-prohibition creations from the annals of cocktail history. for inspiration in this section i sort through my vintage cocktail book collection. i am a bibliophile and amateur antiquarian book collector. combining my love for books and love for cocktails, i have combed through dusty book shelves and the abyss of ebay to snatch up some incredible finds, such as stanley clisby arthur's famous new orleans drinks & how to mix 'em (1937) to esquire's handbook for hosts (1949).

this holds true when i try to name a drink. i love literature-inspired drinks. last season i was working on a drink called 'the little sister' after a raymond chandler novel. honestly, i was more interested in the name than i was impressed with the drink itself. we tweaked it a bit and came up with something delicious, but what to name it? how about the 'lizzie bennet', my friend suggested, inspired by my love for jane austen. perfect. the drink became the 'dear miss bennet'.

the modern section is generally reserved for our spins on classic drinks and homages to boston's renowned bartenders. in this section we chose to place my 'the inimitable jeeves' cocktail. this drink was inspired by a bramble, and is perfect for drinking in warmer weather. the bramble was created in london in the '80s as a refreshing gin-based drink calling for both fresh blackberries and blackberry liqueur. a bramble tends to be rather sweet, so we decided to add a little acidity to lighten it up. replacing the blackberry liqueur and muddled fruit, i made a blackberry basil shrub. this uses equal measurements of fruit, sugar and apple cider vinegar to create a long-lasting ingredient which bridges the strong herbaceous flavor of the old tom gin with the bitter floral notes of meletti amaro. topping off the drink with soda gives it a refreshing bubble and the perfect amount of dilution.

'the inimitable jeeves" is the name of a p.g. wodehouse novel. (because i am obsessed with literary-themed cocktails), and a good englishman likes his gin, and a good butler knows how to make a drink. i cannot wait to drink this outside on the patio - once we have shoveled off the snow, that is. could you see to that please, jeeves?

the inimitable jeeves
1 1/2 oz ransom old tom gin
1/2 meletti amaro
3/4 blackberry basil shrub
3/4 fresh squeezed lemon juice

mix ingredients and shake, pour over ice in a collins glass. top with soda.

for the proprietary section, i went with mezcal. i love working with mezcal. its flavors are strong, pungent, and even off-putting to many drinkers, which is why it is a challenging ingredient. but when it works, it really works. i really, really wanted to find a drink worthy of one of my favorite novels. the 'macondo' is named after the mythical town in gabriel garcia marquez's novel 100 years of solitude.

the mocondo
1oz vida mezcal
1oz old monk rum
1/2 oz campari
1/2 oz put e mes

stirred over ice, flamed lemon oil in the glass, then poured on top

the drink is dark red, smoky, spicy, bitter and dark, inspired by the tragic lives of the characters who live and die in marquez's labyrinthine story. i had the greatest thrill the other night when a guest saw the cocktail on the list, got the reference, and ordered it because he loved the novel!

the wines

leaning about the wines we choose, and natural wines in general is such an interesting and rewarding part of being here. we are a very small space, only 40 seats, and storage is limited as well. our wine list must be precise. a good rule of thumb - you have to love a wine for it to make it on the list. that is our primary focus; we give the guests what we love. what we love is natural wine made by thoughtful and hard-working winemakers. and if we are excited about the wines, the guests will be excited about trying them too!

one of my favorites, and a beautiful expression of terroir and natural winemaking is frank cornelissen's rose 'susucaru'.

cornelissen chose to grow his vineyards on the slopes of mount etna in sicily. he loves the way the volcanic soil can express itself through the indigenous varietals he cultivates - such as nerello mascalese, catarratto and coda di volpe. the wine is dark for a rose; almost more like a light red wine. the nerello mascalese really shines through, giving the wine a bold structure. on the bouquet there is crushed rose petal, fresh snapped peas and ripe peaches. the wine doesn't disappoint on the palate either. it is full of lively fruits and vines that linger and challenge you to think about what you're tasting. there is no yeast, chemicals or sulfites added to the wine. cornelissen's philosophy is to do as little as possible to the wines in order to let them naturally express the terroir, the varietals and the natural conditions. flavors are not adjusted or hidden, nothing added. what you see through the clear bottle is what you get.

be sure to visit liz at spoke this spring to try one (or all) of these incredibly special drinks. cheers!

1 comment:

  1. Now that Spoke is no longer, I googled "inimitable jeeves" with hopes of finding a recipe. Lo and behold! your site popped up. Many thanks!!