In Your Cups: The death of “sweet, fruity, flaccid mediocrity in a glass”

New Courthouse Creek Ciders, running, coffee suits, and a recipe

Imbibe celebrates its 10th year of covering “the liquid culture” this month. “In 2006, the cocktail renaissance was just starting to blossom, coffee’s third wave was still a novel idea, and while craft brewing and wine culture were already well-established, those worlds were changing in tremendous ways, as well,” Imbibe‘s executive editor Paul Clarke says in their anniversary issue.

In the May/June 2016 issue, Imbibe interviews pioneering mixologist Audrey Saunders, a protégé of Dale DeGroff. Saunders opened Pegu Club in New York City in 2005, influencing many who have likewise helped ignite the passions for craft cocktails.

“There was no ‘movement’ back then,” Saunders says. “There were only a handful of us preaching the gospel of craft in the hopes that it would eventually stick. By and large, most people were still experiencing sweet, fruity, flaccid mediocrity in a glass.” Such mediocrity was anathema to those who had experienced cocktails made with premium liquors and fresh ingredients.

Over the past decade, Saunders says, “Every single aspect of the industry…has grown…Bar tools, the return of defunct ingredients, fresh juices, glassware, artisanal products–you name it, it’s evolved.” She also emphasizes the importance of service. “At the end of the day, providing good service to guests is the most important aspect of what we do, even more than delivering the perfect drink.”

Richmond has experienced that renaissance, too, with bartenders whose names are as recognized as top restaurateurs, chefs, and brewers: Mattias Hagglund of Heritage, Bobby Kruger of Belle & James, Lindsey Scheer now at the new Liberty Public House, Derek Salerno of (you must wait for it) Shagbark, Beth Dixon of Pasture, James Kohler and Shannon Hood of Saison, Paul Blumer of the Rogue Gentlemen, Brandon Peck at the Roosevelt–to name a few favorites.

In recognition of the importance of quality cocktails, the Richmond Elby Awards, honoring the city’s finest dining establishments, honor the best cocktail programs, judging on “clarity and originality in its program, which also best suits the restaurant’s style and cuisine.” Nominees have included Pasture, the Rogue Gentlemen, the Roosevelt, Saison, Heritage, and Dutch & Co.

If you have not yet drunk the Kool-Aid, make your way to one of Richmond’s top bars and let them show you what you’ve been missing.

More apples fermenting in Central Virginia

New Courthouse Creek Cider has officially debuted in Richmond. On Saturday, May 7th, at the South of the James Farmers Market, the Goochland cidery presented the Honest Farmer, an off-dry, bottle-conditioned, sparkler. Stay tuned for more news to come!

Metabolize the alcohol!

This month’s brewery run hosted by Fleet Feet Sports has morphed to a cidery run, starting from Blue Bee Cider on Sunday, May 15th, at 4:00 PM. Choose from the three- and four-mile options with other runners of varying levels. Nike reps will be present, too, with chances to try some running shoes. Afterwards, enjoy Blue Bee Cider–apple juice with a kick.

The event is free, but RSVPs are requested.

Think only alcohol businesses face legal issues?

Starbucks has been sued for using too much ice in their iced drinks. Apparently, a customer ordering a venti iced coffee–marketed as 24 ounces–will only get 14 ounces of beverage (until the ice melts).

“Our customers understand and expect that ice is an essential component of any ‘iced’ beverage. If a customer is not satisfied with their beverage preparation, we will gladly remake it,” said Starbucks spokesperson Jamie Riley.

Richmond coffee drinkers can avoid the issue by frequenting one of our independent coffee shops, often serving locally roasted coffees such as the newbie Ironclad, Black Hand, Lamplighter, Blanchard’s, and Richmond veteran Rostov’s.

Make your own

This week’s cocktail recipe was posted on Facebook by Cirrus Vodka, linking to an earthy, herbal springtime recipe for Rhubarb Basil Smash from Nutmeg Nanny.

In a cocktail shaker, add basil leaves, lemon juice and rhubarb syrup. Gently muddle to bruise basil. You do not want to rip the basil apart in the shaker. Just gently release the delicious basil flavor. Add ice and vodka. Add shaker lid and shake until cold. Pour into short cocktail glass and add more ice if needed. Add rhubarb bitters and give a quick stir.

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Annie Tobey

Writer and editor Annie Tobey dutifully studies the craft beverage scene, then runs Richmond’s roads and trails to earn the next round of research.

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