At the Battle of Bennington on August 16, 1777, General John Stark roused his troops: “There they are, boys! We defeat the enemy today, or Molly Stark sleeps a widow tonight!”
Pretty awesome pep talk, don’t you think? They won, by the way. And Molly Stark didn’t become a widow that day.
While Molly Stark never visited southern Vermont, her name is on everything from streets to schools to taverns and hotels. I thought it only appropriate that my Vermont cocktail be named for her as well.
Gin & Ginger
A gin and ginger beer is refreshing on a hot summer day, but especially when made with Vermont products.
Stonecutter Spirits is in Middlebury, Vermont, deriving its name from the stonecutters and masons who lived and worked in the area in the 1800s. They are making gin and whiskey with barreling techniques. I caught up with them at the Farmers’ Market in Burlington.
Stonecutter Single Barrel Gin was a double gold medal winner in 2016 at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. It earned 96 points, “Extraordinary,” at the 2016 Ultimate Spirits Challenge. The gin ages in a former bourbon barrel, which results in a gin that is smooth, less flowery, with notes of caramel and oak. It reminds me of Old Tom, and it is delicious on the rocks. But why stop there?
Halyard Brewing Co. in South Burlington is brewing alcoholic ginger beer, to rave reviews. Their repertoire includes True Ginger Beer, Wayward Amber Ginger Beer, Nicole’s Extra Ginger Beer, and Tempest Dark Ginger Beer. I sampled them all at the Burlington Farmers’ Market, settling on Nicole’s Extra Ginger Beer, “Brewed with extra ginger for wildwomen and madmen: artists, nomads, dancers and poets.” Obviously, I loved that description. It is six percent alcohol by volume.
This cocktail is no nonsense, much the way I think Molly Stark herself would have been. Ice, half gin, half ginger beer.
I do my best to use local ingredients to make cocktails. But, while in Vermont I came across a recipe in a tourist mag from the Mount Anthony Country Club in Bennington that I just had to share. It doesn’t call for a single Vermont ingredient, but boy is it tasty.
All you need is tequila, an Amaro like Aperol, and some grapefruit juice.
I tried it out on some new friends; in Burlington I was asked to happy hour by my RV neighbors, Margot & Barry, who live in Rutland. Once I made my way south to Bennington, they invited me to Rutland for a tour of the area and dinner at their home. I brought the ingredients for the Tequila Sunset recipe from the Mount Anthony Country Club. It was a hit.
I was so enamored with the libation that I stopped by the country club in Bennington for their version. It turns out no one behind the bar had any clue about the recipe or who concocted it, and they didn’t have any thyme sprigs, but it was still delicious.