Post-prohibition, cocktails became all the rage, and were used mainly for social lubrication with instant gratification. Today’s cocktails reflect the bygone era with specialty crafts and an effort to create boozy drinks comparable to chefs who create signature dishes. According to Bar Manager Alec Vlastnik, a plethora of ingredients are at our disposal, more than what was ever available. And with new distilleries popping up, even Wine Country is becoming a Metropolis for making cocktails.
A palpable exuberance is most evident in the best of bartenders. Add a sparkling wine to the mix and a joie de vivre element is elevated to surely stand out in every celebration, let alone annually to ring in the New Year. Whether your sparkling wine is served straight up or mixed, the mood is merry with cheers and toasts aplenty.
In response to what could best be termed a “sparkling revolution,” three bars in Healdsburg offer their best recipe combinations for sparkling cocktails, as well as insider’s tips for visits in each location.
219 Healdsburg Ave,
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Bar Manager Alec Vlastnik is the cool looking guy who crafts cocktails at Spoonbar Lounge inside h2hotel, sister property of Hotel Healdsburg. His insider’s tip to visiting Spoonbar Lounge is to stop by during Happy Hour! Spoonbar Lounge offers Happy Hours weekdays Monday through Thursday from 5-7 p.m. and weekends from 8-10 p.m. Vlastnik shares this “locals secret” of weekend Happy Hours ($6 cocktails), as well as his favorite cocktail recipes. He also suggests trying out his newest Thursday special: Hot Buttered Rum.
This cocktail is named after Dr. George Benham’s gin, a spirit released almost 2 years ago. Its local distillery is 20 minutes west of Healdsburg. Vlastnik’s secret to making this recipe is to avoid shaking by use of forced carbonation for bubbles through and through to liven it up. This is a great aperitif, and if you make it at home, top with Champagne so you don’t have to worry about shaking or use of a mixing machine.
1.5 oz. Benham’s Gin
.5 oz. Rosemary Pear Puree
1 oz. Roderer Brut
While Vlastnik’s favorite recipe, the Churchill, is admittedly not sparkling, it is worth sharing. “It’s smoky combination of flavors works great!” This recipe was created from his mad sampling and introduced to guests at the bar. His passion is to re-think what belongs in a cocktail, and this may include olive oil or bacon fat.
.75 oz. Fidencio Classico Mezcal
.75 oz. Pelegrosso Reposado Tequila
.25 oz. Agave
.25 oz. Strawberry Balsamic Shrub (on top)
Duke’s Spirited Cocktails
111 Plaza St,
Healdsburg, CA 95448
Located in the heart of downtown Healdsburg, the cocktails at Duke’s have been described as “alcohol alchemy”. Local ingredients as eclectic as perennials and heirlooms are used in infusions to concoct groundbreaking “farm-to-glass” libations. With 18 cocktails on the menu, there’s something for everyone.
Like the little black dress, find the perfect fit for you! Share your current state of mind and your cocktail preferences with your bartender and you’ll receive a craft cocktail to suit your mood.
Head bartender at Duke’s, Cappy Sorentino, shares his favorite sparkling cocktail:
The Lo-Autumn Spritz
2 oz. Lo-Fi sweet vermouth
1/2 oz. pomegranate juice
2 oz. sparkling wine
1 oz. soda water
1/4 lemon juice
2 dashes tiki bitters
Build in a Collins glass with ice, garnish with a twist of lemon.
Says Sorentino, “Perfect for the holidays, this spritz goes down easy at holiday gatherings, and because of its low alcohol you can down a couple of these and not worry about bringing up past grievances with family.”
441 Healdsburg Ave,
Healdsburg, CA 95448
With a published cocktail book covering 100 recipes, “Let There Be Spice!” General Manager, Crystalyn Hoffman offers up a long list of innovative recipes for spritzers, spiced wines with blood orange juice or mango juice, and lots of spices. Each month a new hand selection of favorites are served in the tasting room. “It’s Christmas in a bottle” says Hoffman of her popular spiced red wines.
Stop by on Saturdays between 6-9 p.m. for live music, small bites/charcuterie plates and artisanal wine cocktails.
Enjoy this delicious sangria with a floral twist:
Sparkling Elderflower Sangria
1/2 bottle Spicy Vines Spiced Wine Original Blend
1/2 bottle champagne
1 1/2 cup St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
1/2 cup Cointreau
1 cup seedless grapes, sliced
12 cup raspberries
6 Strawberries, sliced
1 nectarine, pitted and sliced
1 peach, pitted and sliced
Combine all ingredients except flowers in a large pitcher and place in refrigerator. Allow to sit for at least an hour before serving. Garnish with flowers just before serving.