If you’ve been following these weekly posts, you know we love to mix cocktails at home. But beginning this week, we’re going to … sorry, can’t help it … mix it up a bit by occasionally featuring drinks from Maine’s talented bartenders. Don’t worry, though, we’ll make sure their recipes aren’t so full of hard-to-find ingredients and fancy mixology techniques that you can’t make them at home.
One of our favorite bartenders in Portland is Henry Jost, the bar manager at Timber Steakhouse & Rotisserie on upper Exchange Street. Previously, Henry ran the bar at Cantina El Rayo (now closed), where in 2013 he won the regional round of the annual “Most Imaginative Bartender” competition, hosted by Bombay Sapphire, earning him a trip to Las Vegas for the finals.
A native of Oklahoma, Henry moved to Maine in 2003, settling first in Deer Isle. Before trading the rugged beauty of Down East Maine for the bustle of Portland in early 2013, he tended bar at the historic Pilgrim’s Inn in Deer Isle village. When Timber opened in late May, Henry had already been working with owners Noah and Dan Talmatch on the cocktail and wine lists, as well as building what has become the largest selection of bourbon in the city — perhaps even the state.
It was no surprise, then, that when asked to come up with a cocktail, Henry based his Holiday Sparkler on Maker’s Mark. The pomegranate seeds give it great flavor and color, he says, with ginger syrup and lime for brightness. If you don’t want to make your own ginger simple syrup (we’ve given you a recipe below), you can buy it at places that stock cocktail ingredients, notably Vena’s Fizz House in Portland.
While he knows and loves his bourbon, what does this gentlemanly Okie pour for himself at the end of a shift? “A gin and tonic,” Henry says without hesitation. “It’s the most refreshing drink.”
Henry’s Holiday Sparkler will be offered as a special cocktail at Timber through the holidays.
2 ounces Maker’s Mark bourbon
3/4 ounces ginger simple syrup (see recipe, below)
3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds, plus extra for garnish
3 lime wedges, plus extra for garnish
Put the Maker’s Mark, ginger syrup, 3 tablespoons pomegranate seeds and 3 lime wedges into a cocktail shaker. Muddle until the fruit juices are released.
Add ice and shake until well chilled.
Double strain (use both the cocktail strainer and a fine-mesh strainer – see photo below) into a Champagne flute and top with prosecco.
Garnish with a few pomegranate seeds and a lime wedge.
GINGER SIMPLE SYRUP
If you make cocktails frequently, flavored simple syrups are great to keep on hand in the fridge. They all work in about the same way; equal parts sugar and water, infused with whatever flavoring ingredients you’d like – fresh herbs, vanilla bean, etc.
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
2 ounces fresh ginger, thinly sliced (no need to peel it)
Put all ingredients into a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let steep 30 minutes – if you want it stronger, steep longer. Strain into a glass jar and store in the refrigerator. Cool completely before using.