As part of Arizona Cocktail Week, there were seminars which ranged in topics such as “And Now a Word About Gin,” “Garden to Glass,” “I Love Blenders, I Hate Blenders,” “Craft Cocktails in a Flash,” and more. I attended two including “Garden to Glass” and Cocktail Culture & Trends.”
The Garden to Glass seminar was moderated by Kim Haasarud (mixologist and cocktail book author) and the panel included Charlotte Voisey (Hendrick’s Gin, William Grant & Sons), Natalie Bovis (The Liquid Muse), Mark Tarbell (Tarbell’s Restaurant), Adam Seger (Mixologist, HUM Liqueur), Danny Ronen (Brandmaster of FAIR Spirits) and Maya Dailey (local farmer, Maya’s Farm).
Kim asked the panel about the first time the bartenders started doing “farm to glass.”
Adam Seger talked about being in Chicago and how he starting growing herbs at the bar he was working at. This required bringing in dirt up to the roof and watering every day. And discovering what grew well indoors. He probably grew seven different kinds of mint just to see what worked for his mojito. He mentioned why wouldn’t you drink like you eat- seasonally.
Natalie Bovis started out as a restaurant publicist and got involved with the other side of things when she saw chefs using rooftop gardens for herbs. She saw a cocktail trend following suit. Now she’s on her third book on culinary aspects and living New Mexico and still into mixology.
Charlotte was at the FIG restaurant at the Fairmont Miramar in Santa Monica. She was inspired by the famous farmers market there. She wanted to make excellent drinks with the best ingredients.
Danny Ronen talked a bit about fair trade and how people are so into organic and no pesticides but certification costs money. He felt sourcing was equally important. Were the products made with slave labor? We tasted a drink made with quinoa vodka that was really made more like a whiskey.
Next we heard from Mark and Maya. They talked about their working relationship. Someone wanted to know if Mark asked Maya to grow him certain things or was it him trying to use what she gave him. It was a little of both, of course.
Mark thought the mixology movement was a bit like the food movement in the 70s/80s. And Maya talked about how important it was to cultivate relationships and build community.
The talk moved on from garden to glass to discussing spirits more. Adam talked about his HUM Liqueur which I had for the first time at Cafe del Rey in Marina del Rey and later met Adam at a Michael’s guest bartender series. Adam talked about how he was working on the formula when Francesco Lafranconi told him it needed kaffir limes in his charming Italian accent. And he was right. Adam was asked what’s the difference between infusions and bitters. Apparently it’s time. Sometimes infusions can turn into bitters if you leave it too long (for reference, bitters take about a month).
Overall, the panel covered where the movement was coming from and mentioned some leading bars around the country. It would have been nice though to hear about local Arizona restaurants and bars that have a garden to glass program. For instance, does Tarbell’s? From their menu, it looks like they do use fresh juices but probably could be more creative with local ingredients.
Perhaps for the next Arizona Cocktail Week, we’ll see more nods to tequila and local produce. A tequila, nopales and agave cocktail, maybe?