We All Swoon for Spoonbar

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spoonbar4.jpgBy Deirdre Bourdet

The h2hotel is Healdsburg's newest swank place to sleep, but its in-house bar does a lot to prevent any sleep from happening.  Sleek modern furniture, all-spoon waterfall, small production artisanal liquors, classic glassware, and incomparable barman Scott Beattie at the helm make it very hard to call it a night when Spoonbar bartenders await.

Bar Manager Scott Beattie first secured his place in the pantheon of celebrity mixologists when he created the award-winning bar program at Cyrus restaurant, just a few steps up the street in the Les Mars hotel.  Scott's rigorous standards for organic seasonal produce, ultra-premium mixers, and craft-distilled local spirits changed the way people looked at cocktails--and the way cocktails look.  His excellent mixologist cookbook, Artisanal Cocktails, belongs in every cocktail enthusiast's library, whether or not you can hunt down fresh Rangpur limes or borage blossoms in your area, and whether or not you ever intend to dehydrate lotus chips, pickle hearts of palm, or make grapefruit foams to garnish your drinks.   After a few years of freelance cocktail catering and consulting post cocktail cookbook, Scott has again stepped behind the bar to kick off the program at Spoonbar, a restaurant with locally-driven, sustainable ingredient sourcing priorities that line up rather nicely with his own.  

spoonbar.jpgScott's actually there behind the bar, too, shaking up revitalized versions of classic cocktails, as well as his own fantastically original and gorgeous works of drinkable art.  One Beattie beauty garnered the ultimate compliment from a visiting birthday girl being toasted at the bar that evening.  The "Siddhartha" Scott made for her was, she assured us quite seriously, "the best cocktail I've ever had in my life."  The one he made for us was pretty mind-blowing, too.  Hanger One Buddha's Hand citrus vodka, Beefeater Gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, fresh squeezed lemon juice, and Thai coconut milk are shaken together, and served over ice in a tall Collins glass garnished with fresh lemon verbena leaves and borage blossoms.  Exotic, aromatic, savory, bright, and absolutely stunning, this drink/hors d'oeuvre was the ultimate happy hour treat.  Or first course.  

spoonbar2.jpgBut then again there was the Cucumber Collins, a tall and refreshingly different glass of Square One Cucumber vodka, with lemon, yuzu, mint, seltzer and thinly sliced cucumbers.  The cocktail uses both fresh cucumbers, and sweet-tart slices pickled with blueberry juice for added sensory punch... and to provide some snackage during your tippling, if you hadn't peeked at the food menu in time.  

The pages and pages of unique seasonally changing creations are only a portion of the beverage offerings, though, and Spoonbar also doles out great beers and wines on tap (yes, Sonoma County wines on tap), or from the bottle, as well as classic cocktails available singly or by the pitcher.  Far from being crowd pleasing throwaways, this "Potions" pitcher menu celebrates the true essence of the original Margarita, Mai Tai, and Daiquiri, and aims to repopularize some other forgotten classics that have gotten shorter shrift in modern vodka-focused drinking.  Serving Dark 'n Stormy, Lion's Tail, and the Millionaire by the pitcher seems the perfect way to reintroduce these oldies but goodies to the masses.  Pitcher service is also ideal for those electing to sit on the cushy but far-from-the-bar lounge side of the room, instead of right at the counter.

If you're looking to brush up your bartending skills, or create some, consider signing up for the monthly cocktail classes Scott is giving in the hotel's Green Room this winter.  Each class is capped at 30 participants, costs $50 per person, and includes all necessary ingredients, Scott's instruction, printed recipes to take home, as well as a few drinks and snacks from Spoonbar's kitchen to enjoy on site from 2-4pm.  

The class on November 13th will focus on festive holiday drinks, and be in effect a mock holiday party.  Participants are encouraged to dress for the evening, and trot out their most cringe-worthy holiday sweaters to battle for the Worst of the Worst title--and a free dinner for two at Spoonbar.  December's class on the 11th will feature winter citrus cocktails and limoncello, and January 22nd's class will hit the big classics: martinis, manhattans, negronis, and the like.  Check the classes' website for full details on each.  Since space is limited and the lure is strong, be sure to call ahead well in advance to reserve your place.

Spoonbar, in the h2hotel, 219 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, 707-433-7222.

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