Signature Cocktails Stir Up Menu Options

DAYTONA NILES / NNY LIVING
Bartender Peter Souch IV, makes a Hunters Cocktail at the Saint Lawrence Spirits Chateau.

BY: Norah Machia
When Peter Beattie bought Foxy’s restaurant in Fisher’s Landing more than 15 years ago, he continued to offer many of the same food and drink specialties that had attracted such a loyal following to the establishment for years.

    Mr. Beattie, who also owns the Channelside restaurant and the Johnston House in Clayton, said one signature cocktail that has been popular since the 1970s at Foxy’s remained on the list, and introduced into his other restaurants. 

     That drink is called the “Shoal Finder,” and was created for everyone who loves spending time at the St. Lawrence River, he said. It’s made with vodka, rum, peach schnapps, orange juice, cranberry juice and pineapple juice

    A signature cocktail is typically known as a drink that is unique to a particular venue. Many signature cocktails are made with locally-sourced ingredients. They often have names that reflect the culture or lifestyle of the region where the drink is being serviced.

     For many long-time residents, and seasonal visitors, a stop at Foxy’s restaurant overlooking the St. Lawrence River for a “Shoal Finder” cocktail has been a long-time tradition.

      “It’s one of those things that people have ordered for many years,” Mr. Beattie said. “It goes hand-in-hand with Foxy’s. It’s been a staple in the area.”

      Although the restaurant had gained a reputation for its American and Italian dishes, its signature cocktails have also grown in popularity. Mr. Beattie offers other signature cocktails, including the “St Lawrence Mule” made with vodka from purified St. Lawrence River water, a product of the St. Lawrence Spirits Distillery & Chateau. It includes ginger beer, lime and fresh mint.

     Other drinks with names adopted from the region include the “River Colada” a version with Blue Curacao, Malibu & Pina Colada Mix, topped with an orange slice. “Signature cocktails have really become popular,” Mr. Beattie said. “People really like to try different things.”

    At his Channelside restaurant, there are other specialty cocktails that have names reflecting the ambience of the St. Lawrence River. That restaurant’s version of a Pina colada is called “Channelside Colada,” and their version of a Jalapeno margarita is called a “Muskie Bite.”

   The Johnston House offers a “St. Lawrence Gold Rush” cocktail made with St. Lawrence Spirits Bourbon, fresh lemon and honey, while the “River Rum Punch” has rum, pineapple, cranberry and orange juice.

     Local ingredients are key for many of the signature cocktails created at the The St. Lawrence Spirits Distillery & Chateau, Clayton. The St. Lawrence River also serves as an inspiration for many of their food and drink creations.

      The establishment has a variety of craft spirits that are distilled on-site, including vodka, gin, moonshine, whiskey and bourbon. They use purified water from the St. Lawrence River to “proof down” all their spirits, providing the “Spirit of The River in Every Bottle” motto. 

     “We use many of our own products in our specialty cocktails,” said Peter Souch IV, beverage engineer. 

   One popular drink even uses locally sourced maple syrup, he said.

    It’s call the “Hunter’s Cocktail” and contains St. Lawrence Spirits Captain’s Flask Bourbon Whiskey, Perique Tobacco Liquor from France, St. Lawrence Spirits Rye Knot Moonshine, maple syrup, and a black cherry on top.

   “It’s a very popular cocktail,” Mr. Souch said. 

     But those are just the ingredients. The other part of the story that makes this drink so unique can be found in its method of preparation. After it’s shaken, a large ice cube is added to the drink, then it’s strained, and put inside a “cocktail smoker box” for a couple minutes before serving.

    It’s that delicate touch of smoke that provides an interesting layer of flavor, and a unique and creative way to add both a taste and visual element to the cocktail, he said.

  “You can smell the smoke and even see it on the glass,” Mr. Souch said. “It’s very unique. I’ve had people visiting from New York City who have told me that have never seen anything like it.”

    The “craft cocktail list” at the St. Lawrence Spirits Chateau is changed every few months to reflect the seasons, with “bright summer drinks” and then darker ones for the fall and winter months, he said.

    There is also a great deal of coordination between the drinks and the food prepared by the establishment’s chef, Christian Ives, Mr. Souch said. The chef often provides valuable input for the best pairing of the cocktails with the dishes, and even supplies some items for specialty drinks, such as orange and chocolate bitters.

                Another specialty drink that has increased in popularity, particularly during the summer months, has been the “the wine slushy.”    

   Northern Flow Vineyards is a small farm winery situated along the St. Lawrence River in Clayton. It was established in 2015 by Phil DeLuke, who drew upon two decades of horticultural experience and a passion for fine wine to start the vineyard operations on the premises of DeLuke’s Garden Center.

   He planted his first vineyards in 2012, and now offers 11 different varietals of wine, ranging from dry to sweet. He completed the winemaking program at Jefferson Community College and took first place in the 2016 New York Wine and Food Classic Competition for the vineyard’s first Marquette vintage, bottled in 2015.

     “We feature three different type of wine slushes, which have seemed to capture a wide range of palates,” said Tammy Byers, tasting room manager. “Our most popular slushy is our red Calumet, named after one of the Thousand Islands. It’s made with the Concord varietal, and tastes just like a grape slushy.”

      Northern Flow Vineyards also offers the Manitouana slushy, “which is a semi-sweet red with a balance of plum sweetness, earthy notes, coffee and followed by a black cherry tartness,” she said.

      “Our white slushy is made with Eagle Wing, which is made from the diamond grape, with a floral note and a hint of pineapple,” she added.

  The establishment has also featured live entertainment on its new patio with a fire pit and covered tent area that can seat up to 200 people. It offers another summer signature drink known as the “Hard to Lee” which contains water, sugar, fresh mint leaves, Northern Flow Vidal Blanc white wine, St. Lawrence Spirits Gin, fresh squeezed lemon, splash of soda, and a garnish of fresh mint leaf and fruit.

     Wine slushes have also been a popular item at the High Peaks Winery in Winthrop.  “It’s been so hot this summer, that the wine slushes have been very much in demand,” said Matt Whalen, owner.

   The winery offers a variety of wine slushes, which are made with a mixture of their own wines, and a propriety slushy mix, featuring flavors such as blue raspberry and lemonade, he said.

    The High Peaks Winery started offering wine slushes about five years ago, and “people really enjoy sitting out on the patio” with a cheese and beef stick plate, along with a wine slushy, he said.

   Even though they are in most demand during the summer months, Mr. Whalen said the winery offers the wine slushes throughout the year. Grape is actually one of the most popular flavors, with blue raspberry and lemonade close behind.

     The High Peaks Winery offers a large selection of wines that change with the seasons. These include Placid, Riesling, Pinot Noir, Malbec, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Shred, Ramble on Rosé, Lakeside White, Wilderness White, Summit Red, Mountain View Red, and Riverflow Red.

     One website that features more information on St. Lawrence River establishments and specialty drinks: www.drink1000islands.com