After a long, snowy winter, when at last the sun is shining and bees are buzzing in mountain country, Eric Gagnon, the Club at Spruce Peak’s lead bartender, heads to the Spruce Peak community garden for a little libation inspiration.
“The garden initiates creativity,” Gagnon explains, snipping bouquets of fresh herbs, bushels of crisp cucumbers, and waxy jalapenos. “You can dig in, smell, taste, and feel the texture of the produce—and imagine the final product.” He knows this harvest bounty (along with expertly hand-crafted Vermont spirits) is the magic ingredient that makes his summer sippers so extraordinary.
If you’re not a gardener, simply snap up these ingredients from the farmer’s market, every Sunday on Mountain Road. And members of the Club at Spruce Peak can help themselves to the homegrown herbs and veggies in our community garden.
Heat from jalapenos pairs perfectly with thirst-quenching citrus. Adjust the spiciness by adding or subtracting jalapeno coins.
- 2 oz Espolòn Blanco Tequila
- 1 oz lime juice
- ½ oz Grand Marnier
- ½ oz maple simple syrup
- 2 jalapeno coins (remove seeds for a milder cocktail)
To make maple simple syrup, whisk together equal parts syrup and warm water until blended.
Salt half the rim of a double old fashioned glass and fill it with ice. Meanwhile, muddle jalapeno coins in a shaker. Add ice and all remaining ingredients, and shake vigorously. Strain into the glass and garnish with a lime wedge and jalapeno coin.
Pair with • Rich fare such as charcuterie, guacamole, or pulled pork. (Avoid spicy foods.)
Meet your new go-to mid-summer sipper when the mercury is soaring. This twist on a Mint Julep contains fresh blueberries and a hint of spice from WhistlePig’s PiggyBack rye. It also works great as a mocktail; simply replace the whiskey with extra ginger beer.
- 1½ oz Piggyback rye whiskey
- ¾ oz lemon juice
- ¾ oz blueberry honey syrup (see recipe below)
- 4 mint leaves
- 2 oz ginger beer, such as Fever Tree
Wrap a dish towel around a scoop of ice or put the ice in a canvas bag. Crush with a mallet and then transfer the crushed ice into a copper mug.
Gently muddle mint leaves in a shaker. Add the whiskey, lemon juice, blueberry honey syrup, and some ice cubes. Shake vigorously and strain over crushed ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a mint sprig.
Light and refreshing, this versatile cocktail is adaptable to whatever you have growing. So feel free to improvise—for example, by substituting strawberries for cucumber.
- 1½ oz Barr Hill vodka
- ¾ oz lemon Juice
- ½ oz St-Germain
- ½ oz honey simple syrup
- 2 oz Stowe Cider Fresh Press nonalcoholic sparkling cider (or substitute 1 oz apple cider and 1 oz unflavored sparkling water)
- 2 slices cucumber
- 4-5 leaves of your favorite soft herb (such as mint, basil, lemon balm, or Thai basil)
Whisk together equal parts honey and warm water until blended.
Muddle cucumbers and herbs in a shaker. Fill shaker with ice and add the vodka, lemon juice, St-Germain, and honey simple syrup. Shake vigorously; strain into a collins glass filled with ice. Top with Stowe Cider Fresh Press and garnish with an herb sprig.
Pair with • Light fare, like crab cakes, Caesar salad, and shrimp tacos
This cocktail pairs botanicals from local Barr Hill gin with the complex flavors of raw honey and fresh undertones of basil.
- 1½ oz Barr Hill gin
- ¾ oz lemon juice
- ¾ oz honey simple syrup
- 5 large basil leaves
First, make the honey simple syrup: Whisk together equal parts raw honey (such as Barr Hill honey) and warm water until blended. Chill.
Gently muddle basil leaves in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and remaining ingredients and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a large basil leaf and expressed lemon twist.
Pair with • Light bites, like a cheese board, garden salad, or white fish
- Syrup 16oz blueberries
- 1 cup honey
- 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan over medium low heat while stirring continuously,being sure to fully incorporate the honey. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10-12 minutes on low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Once cooled, strain through a fine mesh strainer or colander lined with cheesecloth.
Pair with • All-American bar food—think smoked wings, nachos, and burgers