Local Wine Co's Blog

What is Verjus and Some Winter Cocktails by cdbakunas
January 17, 2013, 2:19 pm
Filed under: Food and Drink, Making Cocktails | Tags: , , ,

Verjus in Winter

And a few cocktails


Verjus, or sometimes spelled Verjuice comes from Old French “jus verte” or green juice. Green was not a denotation of color but rather a reference to young fruit that still maintained high acidity while harvested under-ripe. In the Middle Ages (500 A.D. – 1400 A.D.) verjus was often used to enhance flavors in stews, condiments and sauces. Most modern cooks now use lemon or lime for lively tartness. Interestingly lemon trees were not introduced to Northern Europe until 1000 A.D. when the Mores brought lemons to Sicily. By the end of the 15th century we see the first cultivated lemon orchard in Genoa and it was “down-hill” for verjus. Lemons, being perfect portable little darlings usurped the quotidian use of verjus which is unfortunate because verjus has a few distinct qualities that, for certain functions, far exceed the tartiness of a lemon. Verjus is not quite as acidic as a lemon (see chart below) and offers a wider range of flavors that can complement beverages and dishes without overwhelming. And because verjus’ type of acidity is tartaric as opposed to citric in lemons, it has an inherent balance to wine and food that citric acids typically overwhelm. Cocktails with verjus have the pleasing uplift that acid from lemons or limes offer and yet can create more aromatic complexity and subtlety. We have a few of our favorites from our test kitchen below for winter cocktails.


Please grab a bottle of Bonny Doon’s Verjus as soon as you can and send us your recipes and comments.



Chart A. pH 0 – 14 (7 neutral measurement between acid and alkaline)

Lemon pH 2.2 – 2.4

Bonny Doon Verjus de Cigare 2.92

Milk pH approximately 6.7

Average red wine will range between 3.65 – 3.8 pH.




1:1 Henry du Yore’s Bourbon: Bonny Doon Verjus
Orange bitters
Splash of Aperol
Stir till very chilled and serve up, garnish with a burnt orange rind


2:1 Bonny Doon Verjus : Fidencio Classico Mezcal
1 bar spoon of Royal Rose 3 Chiles Simple Syrup
Dash of Jerry Thomas Bitters
Stir and serve up in a coupe glass


1:1 Bonny Doon Verjus : Tub 80 proof Gin
Tenneyson Absinthe rinse
Mint leaf garnish (or tarragon)
Stir till very chilled, serve up in a rocks glass.


1:1 Tub 80 proof Gin : Bonny Doon Verjus
1/2 oz Cynar
Orange bitters
Stir till very chilled, serve up in a rocks glass

Local Spirit Bottles Blog Verjus


Don’t Be Afraid of Your Absinthe by cdbakunas
November 9, 2012, 8:52 am
Filed under: Making Cocktails | Tags: , ,

Cocktail Corner November

Last week I spent some time talking with Graham Wasilition, creator and founder of Tenneyson Absinthe Royal . As usual we got to talking cocktails. One of the many unique things about Tenneyson, amidst the world of absinthe, is that Graham specifically made rhymes with his botanicals and flowers so that Tenneyson could parallel certain aromatics and qualities of gin. When you smell Tenneyson it is unmistakably absinthe, additionally there is a deep savory aromatic that hits you. When you stop to think about it “un-gin” cocktails can go sky high with Absinthe (and as you know I love gin, we make gin, we bath in gin). Graham mentioned, “The Un-Gin is such a good jumping off point for the category and it suits Tenneyson extremely well. Not taking away any of the quality and absinthe backbone but it gives a relatable place for barmen and women to start to conjure up ideas and bring new excitement to a pigeonholed category.”

What we wanted to start today was a monthly dialogue on cocktails and have this be as interactive as you would like. So many of you (readers) are such accomplished bartenders that a rolling dialogue about absinthe and cocktails this month should be fun.

Cocktails for thought here are some of our un-gin formulas (I prefer the term formulas over recipes. Because a recipe is something you follow, but your bar, my bar, your equipment and mine and your rail and my rail just aren’t the same, so please take liberties with these formulas).

And thank you Graham Wasilition for the lively dialogue, the great suggestions and the incredible Tenneyson Absinthe.

Gin Classics that do very well with a Tenneyson substitute:

Negroni, Tom Collins, Corpse Reviver #2

Fall/Winter Seasonal Cocktail Suggestions:

Tenneyson Cider

The Tenneyson Negroni:

Just use classic recipe but replace some of gin with Tenneyson

0.75 oz Campari

0.5 oz Sweet Vermouth

0.75 oz Tenneyson

0.5 oz Gin

Orange Peel Garnish

The Tenneyson Tom Collins (Tenney Fizz):

Replace Gin in classic recipe with Tenneyson

1 oz Tenneyson

0.5 oz simple syrup

1 oz Citrus (lemon, lemon/orange, grapefruit)

Top with Soda and Citrus wheel

Really Reviving Corpse Reviver #2:

Kind of flips the cocktail around…Play with ratio of Gin to Tenneyson from classic recipe…normally 1oz. gin vs. 1 dash absinthe

0.5 oz Gin

0.5 oz Tenneyson

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz Lillet Blanc

1 oz Lemon

Thought Provoking Cider:

1 oz Tenneyson

3-4 oz Apple Cider

0.5 oz honey

5 dash of Bittermens Mole Bitters

Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Dinner at Root by cdbakunas

Thursday night, July 26th Local Wine & Spirits and Ransom will host a spirited dinner with our friends at Root Restaurant in New Orleans. The critically acclaimed mixologist, Lynn House, will be mixing libations that will surely knock your socks off. Here is Tales’ link to the event. Sign up now, only 50 seats are available. The dinner is called “Kaleidoscope.” Tell your friends and spread the word.

Take a peek at the cocktails and the menu.

Cocktail Menu:

2012  Tales of the Cocktail       Kaleidescope Dinner at Root NOLA

Welcome Reception:         Chuck’s Berries

2 oz Exhcange Vodka,  .5 oz lemon juice, .5 oz rich simple syrup, 1.0 oz assorted fresh berry purees (raspberry, blueberry, blackberry, and strawberry), 1.5 oz spakling wine.  Served in a champagne glass or coupe, fresh berry for garnish

A Little Piece of Me (served with Amuse)
1 oz Smalls Gin, Fennel Syrup, (fresh lemon, apple, and orange juice), served in a shot glass as a cocktail amuse, Smalls and the fennel are the base, lemon, apple and orange will be the alternating flavors.

First Course: Tainted Love

3 oz Murphy’s Law  Reisling, .75 oz assorted herb syrups (rosemary, sage, basil amd thyme), .5 oz lemon, 3 drops of assorted bitters (fee orange, lemon, grapefruit, and bittermen’s celery).  Serve in a white wine glass

Second Course: Taken For Hostage

2 oz Ransom Old Tom Gin, .5 oz lime juice, .5 oz simple syrup, 1 egg white, 3 oz assorted homemade soda (made with Bittermen Liqueurs as a base; Citron Sauvage, Amere Sauvage and Commonwealth Tonic)   Served in a collins glass, lime wheel for garnish

Third Course: Tea and Sympathy
1.5 oz Exchange Vodka, .5 oz fresh lemon juice, .25 oz agave nectar. 1.5 oz assorted tea ( Rare Tea Cellars, Freak of Nature Oolong, Blood Orange Pu-erh, Cider Spice Noir, Emperor’s Nectar)  served in a rocks glass, light ice with a lemon twist.

Fourth Course: Red Red Wine

3 oz Ransom Pinot Noir, .5 oz agave nectar, .5 oz lime juice, .25 oz assorted vinegars (Martin Pouret Vinaigare D’Oleans Citron &Piment), Fruits Rouges, Ceidre de Miel), 3 drops of Boyajian citus oils (lime, lemon and orange)  Served as a frappe, in a red wine glass over crushed ice and garnish with edible flowers.

Fifth Course: Manhattan

2 oz Whipper Snapper Whiskey, 1 oz Punt e Mes, . 75 oz assorted citrus juice (2 with lime one with lemon), .5 oz assorted spiced syrups (tajin, sumac, and red chile flake), 6  pieces of assorted golden fruits ( mango, apricot and peach) , 3 drops of assorted bitters ( Angostura, Bitter Truth Creole, Fee Brothers Old Fashion)  Serve up in a cocktail glass, brandied ranier cherry for garnish

Dessert Cocktail: Dreaming of Alexander

2 oz Smalls Gin, .25 oz lemon juice, 2 oz heavy whipping cream, .5 oz vanilla cardamon syrup,  i oz of assorted purees ( apple, orange marmalade, apricot/ginger, pineapple, rhubarb, plum, tamarind and pear)  serve in a cocktail or coupe, vanilla dust for garnish

Dinner Menu:

Chef’s Menu – Phillip Lopez

Amuse 1
Pickled Local Radish
Cauliflower Crema, Chocolate Espresso Gravel, Hibiscus Tea Glass

Amuse 2
Lobster “Bouillabaisse”
Gilded Citron Lobster Knuckle Galantine, Black Saffron Rice

First Course
Grilled Compressed Watermelon Salad
Pimentón Tuna, Nitro Avocado Pearls, Chili Lime Vinaigrette

Second Course
Sweet Corn Gnocchi
Miso Butterscotch, Local Chanterelles, Spiced Corn Nuts

Middle Eastern Falooda
Turkish Spiced Coconut Milk, Puffed Rice, Jasmine Grapefruit Sorbet, Blueberry Vermicelli

Third Course
Black Tea Smoked Gulf Fish
Cauliflower Purée, Celeriac Citrus Salad

Fourth Course
Black Lacquered Rabbit
Root Beer Braised Greens, Licorice Cardamom Glacé, Moroccan Spiced Grits

Fifth Course
Herb Encrusted Lamb Loin
Parsnip Bark, Shiitake Barigoule, Charred Peach Mostarda Dessert

“Rocky Dirt Road”
Chocolate Dirt, Vanilla Marshmallow, Chocolate Praline, Rocky Road Ice Cream

Spirited Dinner at Sanctuaria, St Louis by cdbakunas

Wed night, 6/6/2012, Christophe will host a spirited dinner at Sanctuaria in St Louis. Sanctuaria’s cocktail program is headed by Matt Seiter. Christophe and Matt met while Matt worked in Chicago at In Fine Spirits and Matt has since relocated to St Louis changing the face of the cocktail scene in Missouri. Matt’s menu of 150 cocktails from Sanctuaria’s Club Menu, was nominated for World’s Best Cocktail Menu at Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards in July of 2011. He is the founder of the St Louis USBG and is on the board of the National USBG Master Accreditation Program.

When you are in St Louis you need to stop in for a bite and lots of drinks. Or come by tomorrow and tipple a few with us.

Cocktail Class at Chicago’s Chopping Block by cdbakunas
April 23, 2012, 2:09 pm
Filed under: Making Cocktails, Word on the Street | Tags: , ,

Thursday, May 31, 7-8:30 $50

Join us in welcoming back Christophe Bakunas, all-around great guy and Proprietor of Local Wine and Spirits Company, which produces fantastic wine (see the “Sweet Spot” Cabernet our current list) in addition to artisanal, boutique spirits. Christophe will teach us how to shake, stir (and drink!) perfect summer cocktails, and “cocktail kits” with booze and recipes will be available for purchase after class. Cocktails will include Christophe’s signature John Collins, Rosemary Vodka Spritz, White Wine Refresher, Hemingway Daiquiri, and his Whiskey Daisy. Not to be missed!
Home Page – The Chopping Block

The Heritage Gin Cocktail, Celebrating GINUARY! by cdbakunas
January 13, 2012, 10:15 am
Filed under: Food and Drink, Making Cocktails | Tags: , , ,

Tuesday, Jan 10th was the kick off of a great event. The month of Ginuary at Leopold’s in Chicago, IL.

Who doesn’t love a great gin cocktail? Hmmm, lots of people look the other way when they are presented gin. This probably happens because the sharp piney, or juniper aromatic of London Dry Gins. This precise, piney aromatic has a major turn off factor for many people, much like the cilantro effect. Or, non believers have never been educated on the panoply of styles and nuances of new modern gin. Gin is a fascinating spirit that expresses itself as “predominantly” juniper aromatic, but the word predominant can be interpreted in so many ways. And us small distillers are doing exactly that. Juniper can be expressed in manifold ways through different recipe combinations and different distilling techniques. And truth be told, gin is the most exciting white spirit with which to make cocktails. Why you ask? Because.

Because the complex aromas of a properly distilled gin adds aromatic texture and excitement in cocktails. Take for instance a simple classic; The Tom Collins. Gin, lemon, sugar and ice in a tall glass. It smacks of springtime and summer horse racing. Change this cocktail by substituting vodka and you have a relatively innocuous and simple drink. When a proper Tom Collins is made with gin the gentle citrus aromatics of classic gins harmonizes with the fresh lemon juice and essential oils from the lemon rind itself. The herbal aromatics add complexity and excite the olfactory. Much like serving a simple pasta with red sauce…it’s okay, but if you add roasted garlic, lemon zest and freshly shredded basil, topped with tiny shavings of parmigiano…now we’re talking a savory and satisfying dish.

Yes I believe in Gin. Sorry for the rant, but if you are a believer too don’t shy away from making your friends try your gin cocktails. They’ll thank you in the long run.

Here is a great cocktail for the winter:

The Heritage Gin Cocktail

2 ounces Charleston Sercial Madeira
1 oz Small’s American Dry Gin
1/2 oz Framboise
1/4 oz Orange liqueur
2 drops Bittermens Tiki bitters


Little Flower, The Fiorello Cocktail by cdbakunas
October 24, 2011, 12:59 pm
Filed under: Making Cocktails | Tags: , , ,

Fiorello is an uncommon surname and an even more uncommon name for a mayor. But Fiorello La Guardia was a short man (no more than five feet tall) who served as mayor of New York from 1934 till 1945. The word Fiorello means “Little Flower” in Italian and has been served up as a delicious petit imbiber at La Tavola in Atlanta, Georgia by the great Alli Soble.

Fiorello “Little Flower”

Smalls Gin 1 ¼ oz
Cocchi Apertivo 1 oz
Elderflower Syrup ¼ oz

Shaken and served up in a martini glass
Orange Peel Garnish

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