The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2012

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THE MESSAGE Vessel Tracker I t was via a chance meeting in Seattle with Jim Romdall that we got a sneak peek at the new down- town location of his celebrated bar Vessel (not yet open at press time). The reincarnation boasts 3,000 square feet and the high-end cocktail bar will feature a whopping 30 bartenders each week—and get this: the cocktail menu changes nightly. "Bartenders will have the freedom to create their own recipes," claims Romdall, whose rise to mixol- ogy super-status will ironically keep him behind the scenes running the business. "I'll be the fi fth wheel as the bar back, fi guring out how all the shifts will work." —Meridith May Family Ties in Denver O ver more than 18 years at her Highlands Garden Café in Denver's trendy Highlands neighborhood, Pat Perry's focus has remained constant: quality, simplicity and lots of great ambiance. "The key is simple, clean ingredients simply prepared." Perry is not wine- adventurous, and so she leaves the list to General Manager Brett Hamer, wine consultant Garrett Betts and even her husband, Chuck. "We are a family-owned restaurant, and so we focus on family-owned wineries. It's a natural tie-in." The café has had its own garden since the beginning. That can be challenging during Denver's turbulent winter weather, but it is a great help in more temperate months and provides a certain ambiance that helps defi ne the restaurant. "Fresh fruits and vegetables allow our food to be lighter, and so our beverage choices also tend to lighten at the same time." —Ben Weinberg Pat Perry, owner of the Highlands Garden Café in Denver. Viva La Valley Jim Romdall and business partner/bar designer Clark Niemeyer at the new Vessel in Seattle. T wo years ago, Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley may not have had a reputation as a cocktail mecca, but these days, the Valley's on the verge of cocktail great- ness. Heating things up even more is new North Hollywood eatery Bow and Truss, where Aidan Demarest and Marcos Tello of Tello Demarest Liquid Assets have worked to create a cocktail program that's a perfect fi t for the restaurant's high-end Spanish fare. "We've devel- In the "lab" at Vessel: The Clinebell creates 300-pound blocks of crystal clear ice and cuts to manageable size. With Jim Romdall is Jim Allen from Southern Wine & Spirits. 18 / the tasting panel / september 2012 Aidan Demarest is creating a buzz for Spanish cui- sine–inspired cocktails. oped this program to be comfortable, yet exotic. This is not a tequilaria," explains Demarest. "We have featured sherry in a number of cocktails, however, and that is a nod to the Spanish background; but it also gives our guests something new to try, as sherry is still something sort of new for many people." —Rachel Burkons PHOTO: JOANN ARRUDA. PHOTO: JOANN ARRUDA PHOTO: KEVIN MOLONEY

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