No one loves a Monday. Even if you’re lucky enough to be working your very own made-up sort of dream job, leaving the cozy confines of a fluffy bed is excruciating when the world is cold and dark. This Monday was even more difficult for me, as I’d been out late the night before in the company of the very best bartenders in the Twin Cities. I had the pleasure of judging the semi-finals for the Iron Bartender competition. Put on by the local chapter of the US Bartenders Guild, two bartenders from restaurants known for their forward-thinking bar programs compete on a team. Each heat is thrown the twist of a secret ingredient. Our first secret ingredient last week was ghost peppers. (Honestly, it was better than mortadella—which I feared until one brave soul actually put it into a cup—and holy crap, that was good. Although, not exactly the beginning of a new trend. Still, that was a drink experience I won’t soon forget. Thank you, Team Spoon and Stable for that.)
The night was incredible, filled with cocktails that were astounding.
The finals are this Sunday at The Pourhouse. A $10 cover buys the opportunity to vote for the People’s Choice winner, cocktail samples and an evening of boundless entertainment.
A newcomer to the competition this year is the team from Tattersall Distilling. The new local distillery burst onto the scene this summer and hasn’t slowed down since. The cocktail room is gorgeous, the drinks they pour are heavenly, and the spirits are the backbone to a well-stocked home bar.
I was surprised to find how much I adored their Aquavit. My prior experiences with the spirit have been the sort of puts-hair-on-your-chest drinking that I felt like I should earn a medal for imbibing. Not so with this beautiful, smooth selection. It’s a deeper herbaceous flavor than a gin, but light enough that not much mixer is needed. I first experimented with it by making a raw honey simple syrup with Thai basil, a shot of Tattersall Aquavit mixed with club soda, and topped with a garnish of the basil.
The drink is even better now that we have moved into fall. A little bit of sage coaxes forth the caraway and oak flavors in the Aquavit. It comes together in minutes and is perfect for toasting the season, a great evening with friends or the heroic ability to make it through a Monday.
1 ½ oz Tattersall Aqavit
1 Tablespoon herbal honey simple syrup
Herb for garnish
Pour Aquavit over ice in a short glass, add syrup and club soda. Garnish by smacking the herb between your hands to activate the aroma. Serve.
Raw honey simple syrup
In a small lidded container mix equal parts honey and hot water—as hot as your tap water will allow. Add one stem of herb (in this case one sage leaf). Affix the lid and shake vigorously for one full minute. Strain into container and keep in the refrigerator.