The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2011

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drınk dısh the and the Micro-Seasonal THIS MONTH, BRIDGET ALBERT HEADS TO BERKELEY, CA TO GATHER, WHERE VODKA PLAYS A SIGNIFICANT ROLE IN BEVERAGE AND CUISINE photos by Andrew Faulkner With the resurgence of classic cocktails, over-processed cocktails such as the Apple Martini and Cosmo have caused vodka to fall off of the classic mixologist’s menu. Given the many ingredients vodka can be made from, and with organic brands now available, the time is right to take a look at this category with a fresh set of eyes. In my travels out West, I was thrilled to come across Gather. Located in Berkeley, California, the restaurant is known for its rustic cocktails and food. Although there are many vodka cocktails on menus in bars around the country, fi nding vodka cock- tails made with fresh ingredients can be diffi cult. Mixologist Sarah Bondick and Chef Sean Baker get it right with their use of vodka in the glass and on the plate. Bridget Albert: Tell me about your relationship. Sarah: Sean and I work closely together to make sure that Gather’s beverage program matches the quality and philosophy of the kitchen. We taste wines together to keep our list evolving and innovative. Sean offers direction with micro-seasonal changes to our menu, which keeps me on my toes and inspired to craft new cocktails. We also love sharing some shaved pig head and a cold strong IPA at the end of a long shift. Gather mixologist Sarah Bondick. B.A: In San Francisco you are blessed with some of the best farmers’ markets in the U.S. What’s your favorite season for cooking and mixing? Sean: Not to avoid the question, but we really love the change of the seasons to keep things evolving and interesting. In the kitchen, we get just as excited about the challenges of a smaller selection of produce in the winter as we do about the bounty of fall harvest time. During winter, I enjoy braising meats as well as roasting roots, thistles and brassicas to offer a warm meal for our guests coming in from the cold weather outdoors. In summertime, we play with lighter cuisine and offer various crudo dishes as well as 74 / the tasting panel / april 201 1 Spirit T wo facts about vodka: It’s both the number-one-selling spirit in the country and the least favorite spirit of many classic mixologists to use in creating a cocktail.

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