The fresh and seasonal ingredient trend is no longer just for chefs — bartenders are also digging in. Mixologists are not only working with chefs to use local, seasonal ingredients in cocktails, they are also retreating to chefs’ gardens to get inspired by fresh herbs and botanicals that are grown on the premises. Local craft spirits are even flavored and distilled with local garden ingredients, which takes garden-to-glass a step further.
Different cities are at different stages of this trend. Seattle bars and restaurants have been exposed to this movement for a while due to year-round bountiful produce grown in the Pacific Northwest. The city has several restaurant gardens and many bars developing programs based on garden fresh ingredients. New York is in the thick of this trend, as well, with many bars and restaurants using garden ingredients in their cocktail menus. Bars in New York have taken it to another level in order to stay competitive by utilizing strict farm-to-glass philosophies and offering customers creative forms of garden cocktails.
Seattle: Pacific Northwest Ingredients and Local Distilleries Reign Supreme
Washington State is home to more than 87 craft distilleries, and has the most distilleries of any state in the U.S. This may explain why Seattle is a mecca for all things locally produced, and this philosophy does not overlook cocktails.
When checking out the garden-to-glass scene in Seattle, various neighborhoods and venues were sampled. This includes neighborhood-centric bars and hotel bars alike. When looking for fresh garden cocktails, don’t underestimate your local hotel lounge.
The ART Restaurant and Lounge in the Four Seasons Hotel in Seattle serves the “100 Mile Cocktail,” which includes local ingredients all within 100 miles of Seattle: local vodka, local cider, and locally made Douglas fir sorbet that was, until recently, made from Douglas fir tips foraged from the Four Seasons General Manager’s backyard. The Four Seasons in Seattle has an interesting cocktail program that works with the chef and pastry chef to brainstorm unique and local cocktail ingredients. By taking an ordinary cocktail menu and enhancing it with all local ingredients, locals and visitors alike are able to get a taste of Seattle through a sip of locally foraged cocktails.
Ravish, a restaurant in the Eastlake neighborhood of Seattle, is making its mark on the garden-to-glass scene with its rooftop garden. They think seasonally and locally, but realize that it’s all contingent on availability, which is influenced by weather, what has worked the previous year, and what the cost is going to be to the restaurant. Another big theme seen at Ravish is cross-utilization: Garden ingredients are used in desserts, cocktails, and food items. Hyssop, for example, is used in ice cream as well as in a cocktail. Multiple use products are the name of the game, and things like bitter, floral, and peppery flavors can be combined and crossed over for desserts, cocktails, and food. Two garden influenced cocktails served at Ravish include Gardens Glory (gin, rhubarb, vanilla, lemon, and hyssop) and Bourbon Smash (bourbon, mint, lemon, and sugar).
New York City: An Oasis of Gardens and Cocktails to Match
New York City has no shortage of restaurants and bars that believe the freshest ingredients are the best ingredients for cocktails. Apotheke is the first cocktail bar of its kind to utilize a strict farm-to-glass philosophy. They set themselves apart from the typical “garden craft cocktail” by taking cocktails a step further and offering customers cocktails in the form of prescriptions. These prescriptions mix up various fresh ingredients foraged from local markets or their rooftop herb garden to enhance the customer experience. Prescriptions include stimulant, therapeutic treatment, pain killer, stress reliever, health and beauty, aphrodisiacs, and euphoric enhancers. Fresh ingredients and herbs are carefully mixed up and combined to make the perfect prescription to heal what is ailing you or to enhance your current state. A cocktail from the “Aphrodisiacs” section of the menu, called the Deal Closer, combines vodka, cucumber, local Chinatown aphrodisiacs, mint, lime, agave, and vanilla essence, which all enhance and take romance a bit further.
As you can see, fresh garden-to-glass cocktails are catching on in different markets all over the U.S. Have you ever tried a fresh garden cocktail before? Let us know which restaurant/bar and city in the comments below.