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Friday, June 22, 2012

Drink of the Week: Cucumber Collins at Goose & Gander

Posted By on Fri, Jun 22, 2012 at 1:00 PM

  • Lou Bustamante

For most people, it takes a talented bartender to make them enjoy a complex spirit in a cocktail, especially whisky or one they might have developed a terrible aversion for (usually tequila). For me, it takes a skilled person to have me enjoy the most basic spirit: vodka. There's nothing wrong with vodka, but I usually find that there are more interesting ways to get a buzz. It's also a tough spirit to build a cocktail around, where the quality of the spirit can shine.

At Goose & Gander, bar manager Scott Beattie's Cucumber Collins ($11, Square One Cucumber Vodka, lemon, yuzu, huckleberries, seltzer, fresh and pickled cucumbers) has me reconsidering my habitual avoidance of the neutral spirit. Served tall and cold in a Collins glass, the tart-floral quality of the yuzu harmonizes with the cooling cucumber for a thirst-quenching drink made for lounging in the restaurant's verdant patio. On a typical Napa summer day, a drink like this is necessary.

click to enlarge A burger richer than a Rockefeller - LOU BUSTAMANTE
  • Lou Bustamante
  • A burger richer than a Rockefeller

With a list of 40-odd drinks in the full cocktail menu, including a section with some exceptional tiki drinks like the Mai Tai ($11, blend of rums, housemade orgeat, orange liqueur, lime, pickled ginger) that arrives draped in a lei of blossoms, it's hard to go wrong with anything. Add an order of chef Kelly McCown's Jalapeño Poppers ($7) with cojita-piquillo filling for a spicy and cooling sensation. Better yet, craft the perfect Napa Valley staycation with his rich and extraordinary G & G Burger ($15, grass fed beef, gruyère cheese, house cured bacon with duck fat fries), accompanied with Beattie's Cucumber Collins (aka, our kind of spa treatment).

Goose & Gander, 1245 Spring (at Oak), St. Helena, (707) 967-8779

Lou Bustamante tweets at @thevillagedrunk. Follow SFoodie at @sfoodie, and like us on Facebook.

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