Cocktail Walks

April 28, 2015  
Filed under Feature Stories, Food

A representative of WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey talks rye at Hotel Vermont. (Photo courtesy of Vermont Farm Tours)

A representative of WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey talks rye at Hotel Vermont. (Photo courtesy of Vermont Farm Tours)

Get an inside look at Vermont’s emerging craft spirits scene

From soils to speakeasies, cocktails are a terrific representation of place, and some of the most evocative cocktails in the world are coming out of Vermont. Cocktail Walk introduces enthusiasts to the distillers and bartenders who are turning the Green Mountain State into a cocktail destination.
Chris Howell, founder of Vermont Farm Tours, created Cocktail Walk in 2013 to showcase the array of spirits produced in Vermont, as well as the bartending talent in Burlington and Winooski. Cocktail Walk now runs every other week. Each two-hour Cocktail Walk features a Vermont distiller and visits three restaurants for cocktails and food. The distiller is along to talk shop, and the bartenders discuss their creations and share recipes. The pace is relaxed, with time to eat, drink and catch up with friends.
It starts with dirt
A well-crafted cocktail may be the ultimate expression of terroir—the taste of place. And that taste is shaped first by the soil. Vermont is known as a cheese mecca, but the same soils that underlie the flavor of the state’s best cheeses also grow the grains, fruit, and botanicals that make Vermont’s finest spirits. In the hands of a talented distiller, a bag of rye—and the resulting whiskey—tells the story of the dirt and weather that shaped it.
An increasing number of Vermont’s 19 and counting craft distillers are embracing the notion of terroir and sourcing locally grown ingredients. Some, like WhistlePig in Shoreham, have even started growing their own (rye). Others, like Caledonia Spirits in Hardwick, are using local wood (white oak) for their aging barrels. Still others, like Vermont Spirits, harvest their own botanicals (juniper for their gin).
Ingredients matter
A good cocktail must have quality ingredients. Vermont sets itself apart not only with the sheer number of top-quality spirits made in state, but also with a cornucopia of locally produced herbs, tonics, and bitters—like Urban Moonshine, a medicinal bitters and tonic manufacturer in downtown Burlington.
Thank your bartender
If a cocktail is born in the soil, it is baptized at the bar. Cocktail Walk’s bartenders are assigned a different Vermont libation for each event. From there, the show is theirs. And they do impress—from Scott Christian’s (Bluebird Tavern) passion for prohibition-era cocktails to Mike Dunn’s (Misery Loves Co.) knowledge of the botanicals in Barr Hill Gin, Cocktail Walk’s bartenders consistently craft drinks as dynamic as they are delicious.

For more information, visit www.vermontfarmtours.com/cocktailwalk.html

 

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