Each week Mutineer reaches out to a professional in the beverage industry for a tip they would like to share with our readership. This week we reached out to H. Joseph Ehrmann, Proprietor of San Francisco’s Elixir, for advice on building a cocktail menu around seasonal ingredients.
H. Joseph Ehrmann on creating a cocktail menu around seasonal ingredients:
When creating a seasonal cocktail list, you should understand your local seasonality and plan for the year. For example, my plan at Elixir includes 5 menu changes per year:
1. January to April/May – Winter citrus focused with the end of the season varying based on climate. This season leads into the deadest time of the year in Northern California, where the winter citrus is gone and not much else you want to put in a cocktail is available. We just let the menu run out until the crops come in and we promote the bartender’s choice.
2. April/May – July is the Spring/Summer menu with lots of berries (strawberries are usually the first in) and floral flavors and aromas (lots of gin and botanical focus).
3. August – September is our Summer menu with stone fruits, melons and a multitude of opportunities. This is the richest produce time of year, so have a ball with it.
4. October – November is Autumn around here, and though it doesn’t really get cool (and can actually be hot!) people still expect apples, pears, pomegranates and the beginning of warm spice flavors.
5. December is our Holiday Menu, when the drinks turn nostalgic, rich, warm and comforting. Herbs like rosemary and tea like chai are used in some original cold cocktails to balance out the Tom and Jerrys and Hot Buttered Rum!
These months will change from place to place and the available produce locally should be your focus. There’s always something out there and when you can’t find it fresh, you can use preserves, high quality purees and liqueurs to find those flavors.