Welcome back behind the stick, folks! If you missed our cocktail competition at the beginning of August at Grape and Grain, well, you missed out. Meaghan Leonard from Restaurant Orsay took home the honors but faced fierce competition from some of Jacksonville’s finest bartenders. Check out my article online for more information on what went down. In the meantime, take a look at Logan Raspa with Riverside Liquors. He started there as a teenager in 2004, but returned in 2010 to really learn the trade. After seven years, Raspa has learned a lot and continues to share his knowledge.
Going into the fall, Raspa recommends Cynar. It is a liqueur with an artichoke on the label, but with so much more to offer. It’s got a striking bitterness with a hint of sweetness on the finish. Raspa says, “I’m a huge fan of the aperitif genre.” Raspa uses Cynar in a feisty cocktail on the Riverside Liquors’ menu. “The Manzo is my grandmother’s maiden name, and she asks every week if [the drink] is still on the menu.” Any drink that would win a grandmother’s heart is worth a try in my book. With Cynar, Lillet Blanc, Fernet Branca, lemon, and simple syrup, the drink is immediately herbaceous and finishes bright. I think that it is an excellent end to summer and eases one into fall.
As summer winds down, and we look forward to the fall, I think a lot of us start stocking our home bar for cookouts, parties, and the odd night in. Let’s be honest with ourselves, summer in Jacksonville can be a nightmare. There certainly are some cool things to do, but a lot of people are traveling, and it’s so so hot and chokingly humid. Fall is really Jacksonville’s time to shine, don’t you think, gentle reader? The weather cools down, and people actually want to turn on the grill. Raspa has kindly shared his recipe for the Bardstown Vette that is guaranteed to make any cook-out, or really just anytime, better.
If you visit Riverside Liquors on King Street (and you absolutely should), besides ordering the Manzo, ask for a shot of Zwack. It is a bit on the anise profile, but as a lifelong licorice hater, I somehow love it. As Raspa says, “We’ve made it the Riverside Liquors’ handshake.” It’s also just a fun word to say. Zwack. And isn’t a handshake weird nowadays anyway? Zwack will definitely not be too firm, too soft, or too sweaty. He recommends that you buy it for your home bar. It’s fun to have around and a fantastic conversation piece. Plus, as RSL bar patron Rick Cicero put it, “It’s fucking delicious.”
Whether you make the Bardstown Vette on a Saturday alone watching movies or sip a Zwack at RSL, remember to enjoy responsibly and check back next month, lovelies.