A pioneer of the farm-to-glass philosophy, Scott Beattie wrote the book on seasonal, produce-driven drinks—Artisanal Cocktails—and now runs the show at the innovative Spoonbar in northern Sonoma County. Here, we offer you three secrets from the master mixer.
Juice is only as good as the fruit from which it comes. "Fruit should always be heavier than it looks," Beattie says. "If you pick it up and it feels lighter than expected, that tells you the ratio of rind to juice is out of whack." When you squeeze. there's no need to eat up counter space with a bulky electric juicer. The lever-operated, stainless-steel press from Metrokane gets the job done quietly and efficiently. ($125 at www.kitchenclique.com)
Don't grind farm-fresh herbs into mush. With larger-leafed varieties, slice them into thin strips first and then use a muddler to gently combine them with sugar before shaking. "I usually just tap the herbs a few times and that's enough," Beattie says. These hand-turned maple, cherry, and jatoba beauties made by Chris Gallagher in upstate New York will are perfect for the job. ($40 at www.thebostonshaker.com)
If you want an exotic blend, there's no need to fuss over a complicated infusion that must sit for hours to work its magic. "I'm a fan of essential oils," Beattie says. "Just add a few drops to a quart of simple syrup, mix it with a base liquor and fresh citrus juice, and that's the basis for a great cocktail." Beattie is fond of the oils from Oregon's Liberty Natural , in flavors such as bergamot (try it with scotch or gin), ginger (bourbon or rum), cardamom (vodka), and anise (rye).
—By Rob Willey