In our “Who We’re Drinking With” series we introduce you to some of our favorite people in Wine Country. From winemakers and sommeliers to hoteliers and artists, we’re interested in those who are doing things a bit differently. Tired of reading the same ol’ questionnaires, we’re throwing curve balls in hopes of finding out some new things about these movers and shakers.The ladies and gents that are part of the bar scene are some of my favorite people. In an industry that welcomes all types of personalities, my favorite keepers of the bar are either the life hardened old crusties that still make you the best dark drinks or the young, creatives ready to make you their newest concoction. While spoonbar bar manager Alec Vlastnik is more of the latter he’s got the chops to make the best dark and stormy this side of… well anywhere.
A wine country native, Alec Vlastnik began his career in the hospitality industry as busser at a local country club before quickly being taken under the wing of the restaurant’s bar manager and discovering his passion for spirits and the craft of bartending. He’s constantly studying the classics and the history of spirits and infusing that deep knowledge into new spins.
I’ve been diggin’ on Alec’s latest brain baby, spoonbar’s clockwork orange: saffron infused Ford’s Gin, Valvet Falernum(a spiced-citrusy-sweet syrup, carrot & ginger shrub, lime and absinthe mist. Alec was awesome enough to share the recipe for the shrub that really makes this drink:
CARROT GINGER SHRUB
Combine all ingredients except vinegar in a sauce pan and cook over med heat for 10 minutes. Allow to simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Add vinegar, stir and strain through a chinois.
Let’s see what Alec had to say to our questions:
First thing you thought of when you woke up yesterday?
Where am I? What day is it?
Favorite wine(or beer) related word?
Maceration. Rolls off the tongue, hits the ear in a pleasant way. Makes you feel intelligent when used properly.
The best hangover hack you’ve come up with?
It’s always a combination of things to get your body balanced back out. Spicy and/or greasy food. Water. Champagne. Brunch is the way it is for a reason.
You have to eat a bowl of crickets for $40k, what wine would be the best pairing to help it go down?
I’m going with a 1996 Chateau Lafite-Rothschild because why not? I could afford that with my $40k bowl of crickets!
What is the best thought about Sonoma County you’ve ever heard of? (Quote, saying, conversation)
Two words. Guy. Fieri.
Favorite thing on your menu right now?
Food: Spoonbar sliders with candied bacon and pepper jam! Cocktail: Sweet Heat, Kiwi + serrano pepper infused Tequila, Ancho Reyes Verde, Lime, Agave
What’s your favorite ’80s jam? (Why)
So many possibilities. I’ll go with Take Me Home Tonight by Eddie Money. The absolute best song to have a car full of friends screaming off tune.
If Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs were to show up what would you have him do?
Clean the Drains. For sure clean the drains.
What’s the most difficult recipe you’ve ever attempted?
Pousse Cafe. 6 ingredients all layered in a tulip glass. I wanted to give it a shot when I was first learning how to layer drinks. Fun technique, however totally not worth the effort for this one.
Where is your favorite place to go on a weekday afternoon when you have no plans or obligations?
To the golf course. With no plans or obligations, I would play a lot of golf. Drinks, friends, sunshine and a little competition. Perfection.
Using 3 wine terms, describe your best life
Complexity, Balance, Robust
Food trend you love?
I love the way Brussel sprouts are being used as a bar snack. Everyone remembers their grandmothers flavorless steamed Brussels, but I’ve been seeing different preparations popping up at a ton of bars. Mostly fried and delicious.
What food from your restaurant could you eat every day for the rest of your life?
It just came off our menu for the season but the Butternut Squash Ravioli is something I could eat every day. It is salty, sweet and savory. The house made ravioli with the prosciutto and candied walnuts is a killer combination.
A broken heart?
Tequila. I think it’s always a good choice, but its gives you a sort of untouchable feeling
A job promotion?
For whatever reason Scotch has always seemed like the most celebratory of the spirits. A lot of people, myself included, have a nice bottle tucked away for special occasions.
A hang over?
Bubbles. Champagne to me is a alcoholic energy drink. Super easy to drink, the carbonation helps settle your stomach and liven you up.
A first date?
Gin. A man who drinks gin usually knows himself and what he wants. Or at least it seems that way. It is however, a total coincidence that I drink gin.
A penguin walks through your door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
I imagine he would want a Frozen Margarita, in which case I’d tell him the blender is broken.
Pinot Noir or Gris?
Winery or Tasting Room?
Convenience of walking to which ever Tasting Room you like in downtown Healdsburg is hard to beat.
Fog on the Mountains or Sun on the Vines?
I can’t honestly pick one and that’s what I love about this region, you can have both.
Russian River AVA or Alexander Valley?
RRV. I’m from Santa Rosa so I’m bias.
Guerneville or Bodega Bay?
Bodega. Ocean over river all day.
Bike tour or limo tour?
Limo. It’s difficult to drink wine on a bike.
Bear Republic or Russian River Brewing Co?
UGH. Bear for food. Russian River for beer.
Brunch cocktail or happy hour cocktail?
Brunch Cocktails are my absolute favorite! Day drinking is always a good time with Bloody Mary’s (with gin), Fizzes, Flips and champagne cocktails.
Cabernet in front of a fire place or rosé pool side?
Can I have both? Both are appropriate drinks for the settings. I’ll say Cab and fireplace for fear of losing my man card.
Fremont Diner or Dierks Parkside Cafe?
DIERKS!! The first time I had fried eggs served on top of my biscuits and gravy. Blew my mind.
Interested in staying at h2hotel? Check out this Exclusive WineCountry Offer, available only through sonoma.com & WineCountry.com, includes: Cocktails at Spoonbar for two Complimentary Room Upgrade (subject to availability) $25 Spa Credit