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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Drink Up: Eggnog at Monarch & the Milkweed

Posted By on Sun, Dec 15, 2019 at 8:00 AM

Eggnog at Monarch & the Milkweed - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Eggnog at Monarch & the Milkweed
Stevie Wonder was singing "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing" when I arrived at Monarch & the Milkweed on a recent evening. If I'd been worrying, Stevie's Latin-funk groove and inspired intro ("Paris, Beirut, Iraq, Iran ... I speak very very, um, fluent Spanish"), would've chilled me out and lifted me up.

I wasn't worried about the parking meter: It's free holiday parking season in Burlington, even if some shoppers are at their computers. And after an eggnog hunt conducted mostly by phone, I was no longer worried about finding the seasonal cocktail that delivers spirits as a liquid dessert. 

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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Stonecutter Spirits to Close Highball Social and Tasting Room

Posted By on Tue, Dec 3, 2019 at 4:33 PM

Sivan Cotel and Sas Stewart, cofounders of Stonecutter Spirits - FILE: JAMES BUCK
  • File: James Buck
  • Sivan Cotel and Sas Stewart, cofounders of Stonecutter Spirits
Stonecutter Spirits has announced the closure of the company's Burlington bar Highball Social and its Middlebury tasting room. Both locations will close at the end of 2019.

“We are so grateful for the strong support that our community has shown us since we opened our doors in 2015," the company’s president and cofounder Sas Stewart said in a press release. "We’re proud to be a part of the Vermont ecosystem, and are excited to host fundraisers, collaborations and holiday parties to close out this year. While we’re sad to end this chapter, it’s only fitting to spend this time celebrating the people and products that make Vermont outstanding."

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Drink Up: GOBO at Caledonia Spirits

Posted By on Thu, Sep 12, 2019 at 10:47 AM

Burdock grown at Cate Farm in East Montpelier is the basis for Caledonia Spirits' new GOBO. - MELISSA PASANEN
  • Melissa Pasanen
  • Burdock grown at Cate Farm in East Montpelier is the basis for Caledonia Spirits' new GOBO.
There is probably not a gardener, outdoors enthusiast or dog-owner in Vermont who is unfamiliar with burdock. The deep-rooted plant seems to thrive everywhere; its burrs enmesh themselves with Velcro-like tenacity in your pet’s coat, your kid’s hair, your shoelaces.

At the new Montpelier headquarters of Caledonia Spirits on September 9, employees wore tongue-in-cheek boutonnières of the dreaded burrs, but the private event was actually a burdock lovefest.

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Saturday, March 10, 2018

Fast Pours for a Good Cause

Posted By on Sat, Mar 10, 2018 at 12:27 PM

Sarah Barry at El Cortijo - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Sarah Barry at El Cortijo
At El Cortijo Taqueria y Cantina in Burlington,  where Sarah Barry is general manager and a bartender, she can mix a margarita in less than 60 seconds.

"I bet anyone who works behind the bar here can make a margarita in under a minute," said Barry, noting that the bar is set up for margarita-making. Pouring an old-fashioned could take up to two minutes, she said.

The time it takes to mix a drink is on Barry's mind as she anticipates competing in Speed Rack, a women-only bartending contest coming to Boston on Sunday, March 11.  Barry will be the only Vermont competitor among about two dozen female bartenders.

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Bartenders Petition to Change Rules on House-Infused Spirits

Posted By on Wed, Feb 7, 2018 at 6:12 PM

Glug cocktail at Leunig's Bistro & Cafe - COURTESY OF SARAH BARRY
  • Courtesy of Sarah Barry
  • Glug cocktail at Leunig's Bistro & Cafe
A petition circulated by local bartenders that seeks to amend a state liquor regulation has gained more than 400 signatures in 24 hours.

The petition is an effort to change a Vermont Department of Liquor Control regulation that prohibits adulterating or tampering with alcohol after its manufacture. In practical terms, this means a bartender cannot infuse spirits with ingredients, flavors, herbs or spices — a common practice that is part of mixing a craft cocktail.

"Cocktails are cuisine,"  said Stewart Dunoskovic, a bartender at
Leunig's Bistro & Cafe who signed the petition.  "A bartender is similar to a chef in what they do. And anything that restricts what we can do with those products, restricts what you get to drink at the end of the day."

The change called for by the petition would "update a regulation to the practice, to what's going on," Dunoskovic said. "We're not doing anything in the shadows.  We're not doing anything new. These are common practices: Customers love it; bartenders love it."

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Thursday, December 21, 2017

It's Time to Eat, Drink Eggnog and Be Merry

Posted By on Thu, Dec 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM

  • Suzanne Podhaizer
  • Eggnog
The drink from which eggnog is derived is most likely the medicinal medieval "posset," milk mixed with wine or ale, and seasoned with nutmeg and cinnamon.

Nobody is exactly sure when eggnog got its name, but we do know that it was drunk in America during the 1700s, and that George Washington served an extra-boozy version — laced with brandy, rye whiskey, rum and sherry — to guests.

I'll happily drink nog at any time of year, but it's a must around the winter holidays. You could go full George Washington, or try this variation.

Serves 8, or just one, depending on level of gluttony

  • 12 eggs, separated (use fresh, local eggs, because they'll be consumed raw*)
  • 1 quart creamline milk
  • 1 pint heavy cream (I like Butterworks)
  • 2/3 cup sugar plus 2 teaspoons (or swap in maple syrup, to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg, plus extra to garnish
  • a couple pinches salt
  • bourbon to taste
  • Reserving egg whites for later, whisk the egg yolks until lightened in color.
  • Add milk, cream, 2/3 cup sugar, nutmeg and salt. Whisk until uniform in color and texture.
  • Beat egg whites, along with 2 teaspoons sugar, to soft peaks. Stir into eggnog.
  • Chill. The nog will be a bit foamy on top.
  • Pour into glasses, and stir in as much bourbon as you'd like
  • Garnish with nutmeg
*If you're not comfortable eating raw eggs or are concerned about your immune system, don't make this recipe!

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Monday, July 17, 2017

Stonecutter Spirits Hosts Adventure Dinners Across Vermont

Posted By on Mon, Jul 17, 2017 at 7:51 PM

Adventure Dinner 2017 - JULIA CLANCY
  • Julia Clancy
  • Adventure Dinner 2017
Stonecutter Spirits’ third annual Adventure Dinner began last Saturday, July 15, on a road inside 200 acres of Sunrise Orchards’ apple groves. The sun was beaming in Cornwall, although three hours earlier the sky had opened up with torrential rainstorms and a thick, slick coat of mud glazed the outskirts of the orchards. Guests came aptly prepared, wearing hiking shoes and rain boots with their nice linen shirts. It was an “Adventure Dinner,” after all. Folks were game.

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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Burlington Bartender Wins Most Imaginative in Northeast at Contest in Boston

Posted By on Thu, Jun 8, 2017 at 1:42 PM

Eddie DiDonato at Leunig's - SALLY POLLAK
  • Sally Pollak
  • Eddie DiDonato at Leunig's
Six years after he graduated from Saint Michael's College, Eddie DiDonato pulled an all-nighter. The bartender, who works at Leunig's Bistro & Cafe and Waterworks, was up until 4 a.m. Monday to prepare for a cocktail competition in Boston.

After a few hours' sleep, he loaded his gear into his car, stopped at Tomgirl Juice Co. to pick up some wildflower-cashew milk, and drove to Boston to compete in the Most Imaginative Bartender contest. The annual event is presented by Bombay Sapphire gin,  which is a required ingredient in the competing cocktails.

The cashew milk — and gin — were key ingredients in DiDonato's drink, a cocktail he concocted called Tiger's Milk. With it, he bested a field of 10 bartenders from around the Northeast to win the regional contest.  DiDonato will compete in the North American Most Imaginative Bartender (MIB) final in late August in London.

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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Drink Up: A Local Gimlet and the LXXV

Posted By on Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 5:00 AM

The Barr Hill Gin Gimlet at American Flatbread, Middlebury Hearth - JULIA CLANCY
  • Julia Clancy
  • The Barr Hill Gin Gimlet at American Flatbread, Middlebury Hearth
I live exactly 0.3 miles from American Flatbread in Middlebury. It's a five-minute stroll past Frog Hollow Alley to the creaky bridge over Otter Creek, a pathway lit by gas lamps after dark. I often find myself retreating to Flatbread's shaded back patio to share a bottle of cider, or bellied up to the wraparound wooden bar for a couple of drafts and a "Pepperoni and Peppers" to split.

I usually go to the beer list, but Middlebury Hearth's recently released summer cocktail menu has swayed my habits. Created specifically for the location by Steve Boyce, a former bartender and current Flatbread co-owner, the list of carefully crafted drinks extends the restaurant's ethos for local, sustainable, and made-in-house fare. 

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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Stonecutter Spirits Hosts a Whiskey-Release Party

Posted By on Tue, Jun 28, 2016 at 11:06 AM

Sas Stewart making a cocktail - SUZANNE PODHAIZER
  • Suzanne Podhaizer
  • Sas Stewart making a cocktail
The Stonecutter Spirits headquarters in Middlebury is an impressive place: cool and modern, with plenty of poured concrete and brushed metal.  But in the aging room, the casks and the hush more resemble a medieval monastery. 

I was there last Friday for a whiskey-release party. Stonecutter has been experimenting with blending booze-making techniques from different traditions, and its Heritage Cask Whiskey is the most recent result.

As co-owner Sas Stewart put it, the spirit is distilled like a bourbon, aged like an Irish whiskey, and finished in wine barrels like a Scotch.

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