Trellis’ new cocktail program…finally.

Trellis is a farm to table restaurant in downtown Kirkland. We have an amazing chef,  who grows most of the restaurants produce, and a fantastic wine list focused on Washington State wines. The spirits and cocktail program, however, didn’t quite live up to quality of the other areas in the restaurant. Time to, pun intended, raise the bar.
Normally I would like to make all the changes in a cocktail program overnight. Take the Jim Beam off of the back bar and put up Buffalo Trace, hire and fire as necessary, teach the staff how to use a bar spoon, make syrups, squeeze fresh juice and wham, new program in place.
Trellis has been exactly opposite. I walked into a bar with a horrendous inventory that I was required to reduce before I could bring in new product. I was forced to work with a staff that wasn’t exactly on board with me making them tediously measure ingredients and, god forbid, actually pay attention to what they were putting into a glass.
Almost a year and several cases of McNaugton’s whiskey and DeKuyper liqueurs later I finally have a good solid program in place. It features a 42 item cocktail menu that focuses mainly on classic cocktails with a handful of originals. I went heavy on classic recipes to help our staff gain an understanding of where cocktails came from and the why techniques used to make them were developed. This will give them the foundation needed to build truly great original cocktails.
Granted, the program and spirits list still needs a little fine tuning but I now have guests sit at the bar and strike up conversation about the new and interesting things they see on the shelves. This makes me happy. It allows me to educate our guests about the growing number of high quality spirits on the market and how, in the hands of a skilled bartender, their flavors can be showcased in a cocktail instead of merely dulled by soda and sugar.
One of the best things about Trellis is the availability of our chef’s 10 acre “garden”. Over the summer I was able to utilize fresh berries and herbs for seasonal cocktail specials, and make preserves for use this winter. There were more blueberries, raspberries and blackberries then I knew what to do with and the apples are still coming in. He grows herbs like hyssop and verbena which allows me to work flavors beyond the standard mint and basil we see everywhere. Today I am finishing a homemade liqueur made with lavender flowers harvested from the garden.
There will be many future posts covering how I am utilizing these ingredients and the cocktails that I create. I will also be covering spirits that I particularly enjoy and the local craft distillery scene as it grows.

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