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Thursday, August 19, 2010

At Spoonbar in Healdsburg, Scott Beattie Riffs on Classic Warm-Weather Cocktails

Posted By on Thu, Aug 19, 2010 at 4:17 PM

click to enlarge At Spoonbar, ex-Cyrus barman Scott Beattie has a simpler, more refined focus on classic cocktails. - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • At Spoonbar, ex-Cyrus barman Scott Beattie has a simpler, more refined focus on classic cocktails.
On a recent fog-soaked day in the city, the promise of sunshine lured us north to the warmth of Healdsburg, Yountville's counterpart as a showcase of Sonoma County's best food and drink. While Yountville may have a slight edge on the food, Healdsburg has it beat with cocktails, thanks to Scott Beattie.

Best known for his tenure at Cyrus, where his seasonal, floral, and inventive farm-to-glass bar program established a new school of drink-making (and a book), Beattie has continued to change the way Healdsburg drinks. His latest project is Spoonbar, which opened last month in the h2hotel. The cocktail program is unquestionably Scott Beattie's handiwork: locally focused (most garnishes are grown by friends or farms nearby), visually striking, properly made, and damn tasty.

A closer look reveals that Beattie has shifted to a simpler and more refined focus on classic cocktails, plus his own riffs on them, resulting in a choice of two to three variations per drink. Take the Negroni: the Classic is made with Beefeater gin, Carpano Antica vermouth, Campari, and orange peel ($6.50); the Boulevardier with Maker's Mark bourbon, Noilly-Prat sweet vermouth, Campari, and lemon peel ($7.50); and the Tempes Fugit with Ransom Old Tom Gin, Dolin Rogue vermouth, Gran Classico bitter liqueur, and orange peel ($8.50). Same drink, all classic, yet three completely different expressions. Accessible too, since most prices fall in the $6.50-$8.50 range.

click to enlarge Located in the übergreen h2hotel, Spoonbar emphasizes the local and organic. - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • Located in the übergreen h2hotel, Spoonbar emphasizes the local and organic.
We love Beattie's idea of serving pitchers of cocktails. It allows people something to sit around while enjoying each others' company, much like punch bowls of yore. And with all the tasting we do, sometimes it's nice to have just a partial glass of something. To minimize dilution, pitchers come with large Kold-Draft ice cubes. They hold five glasses of warm-weather standards like margaritas, daiquiris, mai tais, and Dark and Stormys.

Given that the bar is inside the h2hotel, a LEED gold certified building, it should come as no surprise that the bar program favors as many local and organic/sustainable distilleries and wineries as possible. With five wines on tap, all from nearby Dry Creek Valley, Spoonbar has kept things in perspective with a section in most categories labeled "Worth the Trip."

As refreshing as the drinks are, at some point you will need food, and thankfully the Mediterranean-inspired food by chef Rudy Mihal, former owner/chef of Odyssey in Windsor, can just as easily accommodate any appetite, from peckish to ravenous. The grilled octopus with Cerignola olives and nepetella ($16) is a standout. Tender discs of lightly charred octopus with potatoes, all dressed with olives and Italian mint can temper the overly liberating effects a few pitchers with friends in the sun can produce.

Spoonbar: 219 Healdsburg (at Mill), Healdsburg, 707-433-7222.

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