The Press Democrat Newspaper
Story by Staff Writer DIANE PETERSON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT | February 13, 2018
If you can’t afford to take your Valentine on an exotic vacation for Valentine’s Day, consider shaking things up a bit with a fun, flirty cocktail or two that will get them in the mood for romance.
Whether you choose a twist on a classic or dive into a brand new concoction, an exotic love potion can magically transport you and your sweetie to a tropical beach or a seaside Italian patio for the night. Just make sure to keep it low alcohol so you don’t end up falling asleep before take-off.
To help inspire budding mixologists out there, we turned to award-winning bartender Adam Welch of the Geyserville Gun Club Bar & Lounge, who has been shaking up the cocktail scene in Wine Country for the past 10 years.
Welch honed his skills under experts such as Scott Beattie at Cyrus in Healdsburg and Goose & Gander in St. Helena, where he made his own signature syrups and bitters and learned to run a large bar program.
The 31-year-old bartender enjoys working in the best of both worlds. The bar bridges the gap between the kitchen and the front of the house, allowing him the creative freedom to create his own cocktail menu while also interacting with the guests.
From his first job as a food runner at Bistro Giovanni in Napa to his first “bar back” experience at Press in St. Helena, Welch said he always bonded with the hardworking folks in the kitchen. “For me, there was much more honor and respect in that,” he said. “But I was used to the front of the house.”
Two years ago, Welch launched the bar program at the newly opened Geyserville Gun Club Bar & Lounge with chef/owner Dino Bugica, who also owns Geyserville’s rustic Italian restaurant, Diavola. The passionate bartender came in second place last year at Napa’s prestigious Wizards of Elixirs competition sponsored by Charbay Distillery & The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley. His winning cocktail, a refreshing quaff dubbed The Shogun after the ancient Japanese general, is now on the menu at The Geyserville Gun Club Bar & Lounge. “It’s exotic and tropical,” he said. “With the egg in there, it reminds me of a Ramos gin fizz. It could be a cure for a hangover.”
Just a few weeks ago, he came up with the Thai Fighter, a bourbon cocktail made with Thai iced tea that won first place in the Old Forester Bourbon Cocktail Competition at the Geyserville Gun Club and Bar. It has quickly become a personal favorite of the bartender. “It’s named after Muay Thai (a combat sport of Thailand),” he said. “Serve it in front of the fireplace, because of the warm spices.”
Tonight, Welch said the Geyserville Gun Club Bar & Lounge will host a “Bourbon and Burlesque” party in honor of the affection-laden Feast Day of St. Valentine.
“We’re going to have really good bourbons, a whiskey flight and a special menu of Bourbon cocktails,” Welch said. “Two dancers will hang out and interact with the guests.”
For a peek into the romance — and reality — of the local restaurant and bar scene, check out Welch’s podcast, “Bar Stories” where he interviews local folks and asks them to tell their best bar story. (BarStoriesPodcast.com), Warning: The podcasts may include adult content.
Adam Welch of Geyserville Gun Club Bar & Lounge shared four different romantic cocktails that you can create tonight — or any night — to heat up the passion between you and your partner. Some may appeal more to men, some to women, and some to both, so make sure you find out your loved one’s flavor preferences first. For sources for cocktail ingredients, check with Bev Mo, Bottle Barn and grocery stores such as Oliver’s and Safeway.
The Kimono Dropper
One of the most popular cocktails at the bar is the risqué-sounding Kimono Dropper, a refreshing quaff that is perfect for the warm evenings of our early spring weather. It’s citrusy, bright and refreshing, with lots of Asian influence. My whole approach is to have something for everyone. This is nice, easy drinking. The cocktail features a cucumber ribbon wrapped around the inside of a Collins glass, 1 ounce of Square One Cucumber Vodka, a splash of Junmai Shochu, and Italian Gusto di Amalfi Mandarino (or limoncello), bottled yuzu juice, a fresh lemon slice and a drop of sesame oil topped with a float of soda water. It’s low in alcohol. If you want things to heat up, drink a couple of these. People usually have three.
The Kimono Dropper
1 ounce Square One Cucumber Vodka
1/2 ounce Junmai Shochu
1/2 ounce Italian Gusto de Amalfi Mandarino (or limoncello)
1/2 ounce bottled yuzu juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
— Drop of sesame oil
1 thinly slice cucumber
— Splash soda water
In a cocktail shaker, combine first seven ingredients and shake with ice. Strain into a Collins glass. Add ice, thinly sliced cucumber and top with soda water.
The Shogun takes you on an exotic. tropical journey with Charbay Green Tea Vodka and toasted coconut and is served in a provocative coupe glass.
It’s a shaken cocktail, nice and tart.
The house made creme de coconut gives it richness, but you can use the Coco Lopez cream of coconut.
11/2 ounce Charbay Green Tea Vodka
1/2 ounce creme de coconut (such as Coco Lopez)
1/4 ounce fennel seed liqueur
1/2 ounce sake
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 raw egg white
— Pinch of toasted coconut, for garnish
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker (without ice) and shake to emulsify.
Add ice and shake again.
Strain into a coupe glass and top with toasted coconut.
The Diavola Spritz
Another low-alcohol drink is the Diavola (She-Devil) Spritz which Welch created for Diavola restaurant as a twist on the Aperol Spritz. That classic Italian aperativo is made with prosecco, aperol and soda water. Using a beer tulip glass, Welch adds a Meyer lemon wedge, grapefruit bitters and Cappeletti, a red Italian aperitivo that he’s infused with espresso beans. It’s garnished tantalizingly with a slice of blood orange.
It’s very versatile. You can have it when it’s winter or when it’s 90 degrees out.
The Diavola Spritz
1 wedge Meyer lemon
2 dashes grapefruit bitters
3 ounces Cappeletti Red Italian Aperitivo (or Aperol)
2 ounces prosecco
1 ounce soda water
1 slice blood orange, for garnish
Squeeze the Meyer lemon wedge into a tulip glass
and drop it in.
Add the Cappeletti, grapefruit bitters and ice,
then prosecco and soda water.
Garnish with blood orange slice.
For the Thai Fighter— a brand new concoction barely a month old — the mixologist uses a higher proof bourbon such as Old Forester 100, adds dashes of the Italian digestif Fernet Branca and allspice dram, some Gumm syrup and a big splash of home-brewed Thai Tea that he spices up with extra Sichuan peppercorns and allspice. Then he tops off the tall Collins glass with a float of sweetened condensed milk and heavy cream. It sinks and bleeds and looks awesome.
This cocktail would go great with any kind of Thai food.
1 ounce higher proof bourbon (such as Old Forester 100)
2 dashes of Fernet Branca (Italian digestivo)
2 dashes allspice dram
1/2 ounce gomme syrup (from Small Hands)
31/2 ounces home-brewed Thai Tea, chilled
1/4 ounce sweetened condensed milk
1/4 ounce heavy cream
Add the bourbon into a Collins glass. Then add the Fernet Branco and allspice dram, then the gomme syrup and the Thai tea. Add ice. Blend together the condensed milk and the heavy cream and pour over top.