Farm-to-Table Cocktails

farm to table cocktailsWith Memorial Day only a few days in the rearview mirror, summer has officially arrived and with summer comes fresh produce. With fresh produce comes the opportunity for farm-to-table cocktails.

Across the hospitality industry, restaurants and pubs are seeing a push toward local sourcing. Patrons are more demanding to know what the ingredients are as well as where they came from.

Freshness Wins

Forget about bottled and canned juices as a starting point for cocktails. Instead, use fresh-squeezed orange juice or fresh tomatoes as the basis for a Bloody Mary.

Kim Haasarud, founder of beverage consultancy firm Liquid Architecture LLC, makes a point to peruse farmers’ markets for ingredients and ideas for cocktails. Quoted in Wine Enthusiast’sFarm-to-Table Cocktails” she said, “I don’t really start with a shopping list, I like for the produce to speak to me. In the spring and summer, I use a lot more gin and other white spirits, because they go so well with berries and young vegetables. And tomatoes! I love to muddle up a cocktail with tomatoes and fresh herbs like cilantro and dill, and maybe some jalapeños and Tequila.”

Farm-to-Table Cocktail Contest

Salt Lake Magazine sponsors a farm-to-glass cocktail contest. Last September, 12 mixologists vied for the honors creating cocktails based on seasonal ingredients from the Downtown Farmers Market. The hand-crafted cocktails had to contain at least two ingredients from participating farms that sold produce at the market.

Area restaurants supported patron voting for the winner. Participating restaurants featured their farm-to-glass cocktail and patrons could vote via a QR code on post cards in the restaurant or via the website. Last year’s winner was Matt Pfohl of Pallet for his Garden Smash. His recipe:

  • 1.5 oz. London Dry Gin
  • .75 oz Clifford Farm Honey Syrup
  • .5 oz Myer Lemon Juice
  • 1 leaf fresh Thai basil
  • 1 dash Angostura Bitters

Shake and strain over ice into a Collins glass. Top with ginger soda and a lemon wheel.

NPR (“It’s Time to Toast Farm-to-Table Cocktails”) featured this recipe for a Bloody Mary (Makes a large pitcher, 14 drinks):

  • 5 pounds ripe (or slightly overripe) tomatoes, coarsely chopped
  • 1 large shallot
  • 4 large garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh horseradish root, peeled and finely grated
  • 3 teaspoons hot sauce (more if you like heat)
  • Juice from 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)
  • Juice from 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 3 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves stripped from the branch
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Ice, for serving
  • Cold vodka (however much you like)
  • Fresh celery
  • Garnishes

Put tomatoes and shallot into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Once liquefied, push the mixture through a medium mesh strainer into a medium-sized bowl. This will take some time to ensure you get rid of all of the tomato solids. At this point, you can refrigerate the juice until you’re ready to serve.

When ready to serve, add garlic, horseradish, hot sauce, lemon juice, lime juice, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt and pepper. Stir thoroughly. Divide vodka among serving glasses. (A standard serving is 1 ounce, or 2 tablespoons, but you may add more or less.) Pour tomato mixture into the glasses and stir to combine. Garnish with celery and whatever else you like.

Farm-to-table cocktails take a bit of work, but they may be just the thing to set your establishment apart and begin attracting new and repeat patrons.