Oh hey, December. Wow. I’ll save my 2015 reminiscing for another time, but I will just say that this year has been a whirlwind of new places, new people, and new opportunities. I’ve had a couple months break from traveling, which has given me time to work on a few projects with folks closer to home. And this collaboration with Vermont Creamery and Stonecutter Spirits is by far my favorite!
I began talking with FM from Vermont Creamery about this project a few months ago, and was pretty excited about it from the start. The idea was to create five different “bites” using Vermont Creamery cheeses, while Sas from Stonecutter Spirits and Jeff from Oak45 crafted cocktails to pair with them. And then we’d take a day to photograph the bites and cocktails, along with holiday tablescapes filled with delicious foods and desserts, in Oak45’s beautiful space. Cheese, booze, partnering with awesome Vermont businesses, and getting to stand on tables all day in a gorgeous space with perfect light? Yup, basically my dream project.
If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’re probably already well acquainted with Vermont Creamery. But for those who aren’t, they make amazing fresh and aged hand-crafted cheeses right here in VT, along with cultured butter and crème fraîche. And Stonecutter Spirits is another wonderful Vermont company that makes delicious barrel-aged gin and (coming soon!) small batch whiskey. And really, that’s just the beginning. We were able to collaborate with so many awesome brands and artisans for this project (some that I already loved, and some that were new to me) that it kind of blew me away. I’ve provided links to many of them in the recipes, but I’ve also included tasting notes if you can’t find the exact ingredients near you. I know most people think of wine and cheese as a perfect pairing (and I’m certainly not going to knock it), but trust me when I say that cheese and cocktails are an equally happy marriage. Especially these! (And if you’re looking for recipes for any of the delicious dishes in the other photos, you can find them in the Vermont Creamery Holiday Booklet!)
P.S. A huge thanks to Farmhouse Pottery for providing us with so many of their beautiful pieces for the shoot!
Also, if you love cocktails and good food as much as I do, there are still a couple spaces left in the Photography, Styling, & Craft Cocktail Workshop that Eva and I are hosting in the British Virgin Islands in January! We’ll be learning all about photography and mixology, going on an outing to a local farm on Tortola, and taking a trip to The Baths on Virgin Gorda. It will be beautiful, warm, and faaaaarrrr away from cold, gross winter! We’d love to have you join us.
Bijou + Side Ride
(tasting notes: neutral-flavored crispy cracker, rich buttery cheese, a little smokey and funky, brightness from tangy crème fraîche, touch of fresh herbal flavor)
SIDE RIDE: 1.5 oz Stonecutter Spirits aged gin + 1 oz Gran Marnier + 0.5 oz lemon juice + 1 dash Angostora bitters + sage leaf and lemon peel garnish
Combine aged gin, Gran Marnier, lemon juice, and bitters in shaker; stir 8-12 seconds and strain into chilled coupe glass. Lightly rub sage leaf on rim of coupe and float in drink along with lemon peel.
**Alternative cocktail pairing** (I actually was so surprised by how much I loved this one with the bite, as I didn’t really think the rose flavor would mesh well with the smoked salmon. But it was so good!)
ROSIE’S THORN: 2 oz Stonecutter Spirits aged gin + 1 oz amaretto + 0.5 oz rose water + orange peel garnish
Combine aged gin, amaretto, and rose water in mixing tin with ice; stir 8-12 seconds. Strain into rocks glass over ice. Garnish with orange peel.
Chèvre + Hanky Panky
(tasting notes: nutty cracker, rich pumpkin flavor, fresh goat cheese, sweet and spicy kick, salt to balance out the sweet, rich flavors)
HANKY PANKY: 1.5 oz Stonecutter Spirits aged gin + 1.5 oz sweet vermouth + .25 oz Fernet Branca + orange peel garnish
Combine aged gin, sweet vermouth, and Fernet Branca in mixing tin; stir 8-12 seconds and strain into chilled coupe. Garnish with orange peel.
Bonne Bouche + Dark Horse
(tasting notes: shortbread-like base, chocolate, funky salty goat cheese, tangy cinnamon caramel)
DARK HORSE: 2 oz Stonecutter Spirits aged gin + 1 oz coffee liqueur + .5 oz Branca Menta + 1-2 sprigs fresh mint garnish
Combine aged gin, coffee liqueur, Branca Menta, and six mint leaves in a shaker; shake 8-12 seconds and strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish with mint sprigs.
Cremont + Pink Fizz
(tasting notes: shortbread-like base, mildly salt and funky goat cheese, fruity jam, maple, anise)
PINK FIZZ: 2 oz Stonecutter Spirits aged gin + 0.5 oz lemon juice + 0.5 Lillet Blanc + soda water + 0.5 oz pinot noir + rosemary sprig garnish
Combine aged gin, lemon juice, and Lillet Blanc in mixing tin with ice; stir 8-12 seconds. Strain into tall glass of ice garnished with rosemary sprig and straw; top with soda water. Pour pinot noir over back of spoon to float on top of cocktail.
Coupole + Sas Magic
(tasting notes: sweet and spicy, meaty, salty, rich buttery cheese)
SAS MAGIC: 2 oz Stonecutter Spirits aged gin + 3 apple slices + 0.5 oz lemon juice + 0.5 cinnamon syrup + 2 dash aromatic bitter + absinthe rinse + fresh thyme sprig garnish
Rinse chilled coupe glass with absinthe. Combine aged gin, apple slices, lemon juice, cinnamon syrup, and bitters in a shaker; shake 8-12 seconds and strain into chilled coupe glass. Garnish with fresh thyme sprig.