By Analiese Paik
I met Farah Masani at Barcelona Fairfield on Friday evening to catch up on our spring activities. She’s one busy lady farming in Wilton, tending Barcelona Fairfield’s vegetable garden, and managing local sourcing for Barcelona Restaurant Group. As I drove up Congress Street I spotted her in the restaurant’s vegetable garden turning over one of the raised beds. I quickly parked and made a bee-line for the garden and was relieved to see that even a farmer hadn’t planted outdoors yet. “It’s been such a cold spring” she said “and a lot of us don’t have crops in the ground yet.” I confessed to not having gotten my peas in the ground yet and she said “Don’t feel bad. It’s not too late. I got mine in yesterday.”
Farah had a few packets of seeds she was planning to plant, including three varieties of radishes, one of which I had never seen before. “We’re trying something new this year. Our assistant general manager, who’s an avid gardener, likes this yellow variety of radish because it tastes sweet and grows well here.” The seeds would have to wait for tomorrow since it was getting late. She finished turning over the 20 inch-deep raised bed, constructed unusually deep so she has the flexibility to grow deep-rooted plants, and we headed to the patio for a drink.
I almost forgot that I had expressed interest in trying a Bourbon Spice Rack, the mixed drink that Gretchen Thomas, Barcelona Restaurant Group’s Wine & Spirits Director, had developed to showcase DOC’s USDA Organic Maple Syrup. DOC’s participated in Barcelona’s Farmigo program last year and has become a staple ingredient at the restaurant (read the story behind DOC’s here). I love this maple syrup and Farah said it’s some of the finest she’s ever tasted. Farah told me that upon tasting it, Gretchen said, “I’m going to develop a cocktail using this.” Now, I’m not a Bourbon drinker, but I know that Gretchen has an incredible palate and is quite a talent, so I was willing to be adventurous.
First, this is not a guy’s drink, despite the bourbon. I found it refreshing and complex, thanks to the cardamom and lavender bitters, and even food friendly. The oversized ice cubes, crafted especially for this drink, are both playful and functional – they melt more slowly, which avoids drink dilution, and keep the drink at optimum temperature range longer than smaller ice cubes. If you’re inclined to make your own at home, here’s the recipe. But if you’d like to leave it to the experts, head to Barcelona for a bit of local flavor in your cocktail. And perhaps a few appetizers to go with it. Spot prawns are on the menu!
Bourbon Spice Rack
Recipe courtesy of Gretchen Thomas, Wine & Spirits Director, Barcelona Restaurant Group
- 3/4 oz. lemon juice
- 1/2 oz. DOC’s Maple Syrup, grade B
- 1 oz. Cocchi Torino Vermouth
- 1 oz. Bulleit Bourbon
- 1 dash Scrappy’s Cardamom Bitters
- 2 dashes Scrappy’s Lavender Bitters
- Measure all ingredients into a clean shaker.
- Add ice; shake well.
- Strain into a rock glass. Add 2-3 large ice cubes (Barcelona has special oversized ice cube trays)
- Garnish with skewer.