Tahoe Top 5: ‘We’re getting nerdy with it’ | SierraSun.com

Tahoe Top 5: ‘We’re getting nerdy with it’

Truckee Tavern & Grill will use flavors like gin, blood orange, lemon and Darjeeling tea from their neighbors at Cha Fine Teas.
Courtesy of Sean Field |

Leaves are changing color, a cool breeze is in the air, and the cocktail masterminds at Truckee Tavern and Grill are busy whipping up signature flavors for fall to grace their winter menu in the coming weeks.

“We’re getting nerdy with it, and trying to break the wheel with these cocktails,” said bartender Ian Hadder.

At the Tavern, cocktails aren’t poured from premade mixes and low-quality spirits; each ingredient has been thoughtfully chosen and executed in a way that brings a whole new life to your favorite flavors.

Hadder explained that “getting nerdy” entails finding new ways to boil down typical recipes using infusion methods and pure creativity.

For example, rather than using the typical lemon or lime as their citrus ingredient in a drink, they’ve incorporated a citric acid concentrate, which can be used to enhance the acidity in a grapefruit or blood orange — two flavors they’re playing with for fall.

“Mastery is in the details and we put ample amounts of effort into every small detail,” he said of their cocktail menu.

The menu itself is created from a predetermined theme, which ties together each of their cocktails, from name to presentation.

The current cocktail menu, which will last through mid-October before being swapped for chillier temperatures, is inspired by bad-ass women of history, featuring names like “Rosa” for Rosa Parks, “Eleanor” for Eleanor Roosevelt, and “House for Harriet” in honor of Harriet Tubman, to name a few.

Ryan Dierks, bartender and co-owner of the Truckee Tavern said that his team is currently conceptualizing their winter cocktail and food menus, finding the perfect flavors of fall.

He’s shared his cocktail expertise in describing the top five most exciting things to look out for this fall with Truckee Tavern’s exciting drink (and food) menu.

1. A cocktail for everyone

Dierks and his team are dedicated to finding the right flavors for different kinds of people, from non-threatening options to more ambitious flavors.

“I don’t want to say that crowd-pleaser cocktails are a negative thing, or to degrade the cocktail; I’d actually say that it’s a purposeful cocktail. Creating a three- to four-ingredient cocktail that speaks to everyone is an art form,” he said.

“Rosa” is a perfect example of a current cocktail, which is sure to please the crowd; a light, refreshing, sweet yet tart cocktail using gin and sparkling wine with almond and strawberry flavors.

2. Fall ingredients

Dierks said some of this year’s signature fall flavors are blood orange, ginger, cumquat, beets, and Meyer lemon.

The spirit-whisperers, if you will, are bringing cinnamon, cacao, nutmeg, raisin, coffee, cardamom, maple wood, and tart cherry flavors into the mix, creating exciting drinks guests won’t experience at the typical bar, like their new Vietnamese egg coffee.

3. Your new favorite drink

One drink to be on the lookout for this winter doesn’t even have a name yet, but is already causing a stir.

“I haven’t named it, it doesn’t technically exist, but I don’t even need to make it, I know it’s going to be delicious,” Dierks said.

This not-to-miss beverage uses gin, blood orange, lemon, cinnamon, and Darjeeling tea to deliver a punch of wintery fall flavors — sounds delicious.

4. Don’t forget the food

The culinary team is equally excited about their fall menu and suggests the beet mac ‘n cheese, which features rosemary and herb infused beets and house made pasta in this irresistibly cheesy dish.

5. Pair perfection

Take your cocktail experience to the next level with the perfect dinner pairing. This fall, try out the gin-blood, orange-lemon-cinnamon-Darjeeling cocktail with the menu’s pork chop dish, which also highlights juniper, orange and cinnamon in the brine.

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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