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Spring Break: 7 Days of Patio Pounders

Posted on Wednesday, Apr. 20, 2016



It has been such a treat to be a part of the evolving cocktail community in Cincinnati. It’s been amazing to see us all, bartenders and bar guests alike, change our palettes and way of thinking when it comes to the delicious concoctions we tip back. We as bar professionals could not continue to be innovative without the support of the trusting guests who sit at our bar stools and take this adventure with us. Sunday School has been the perfect example of how the tides have turned. When we held our first class in September of 2014, I remember feeling so nervous about the cocktails we were making. Are people going to get this? Are they going to run screaming the other way? Who is this woman trying to put vinegar in my cocktails? We really wanted to walk that fine balance of innovation and accessibility. But I was pleasantly surprised in the openness of all the students who attended. Yes, some of the cocktails made them do a double a take, but they were so eager to learn and to taste everything we put in front of them. We’ve had two classes that were themed around fermentation and vinegar. The first class was the 5th class we ever held and the second was just a couple months ago. During the first class I would say that over half the class had never even heard of a shrub before. During our last class, I asked the students if anyone had ever heard of a shrub before and I’d say 80% of the students raised their hands. My heart almost burst with pride. But that’s the beautiful thing about these classes, there were people there who had no idea what we were talking about and yet they came and they felt welcome and most importantly had a good time!

The reason I bring this up, is that sometimes you create a cocktail that may be slightly ahead of its time. You get excited, jump the gun and then fall right on your face. When we construct cocktail menus we try to create happy harmonious balance of spirits and flavor profiles. We don’t just put cocktails on the menu that we would order, because it isn’t about the bartenders, it’s about the guests. Most bar menus that I’ve helped put together, no more than half of the cocktails are ones that I would actually order. This doesn’t mean they aren’t delicious and balanced just not necessarily my cup of tea, but it’s someone’s cup of tea and that is what we always try to think about. There are always one or two cocktails that we’ll put on the menu that we just geek out about and are completely enamored by. On our first spring cocktail list there was such a cocktail. I am a known fennel fanatic, as well as a beetaholic. So when I created a beet shrub cocktail for our menu I was beyond thrilled. When we all tasted the cocktail we were chomping at the bit. Then we put it on the menu, and it was absolute crickets. No one wanted to order this thing. We even gave it a cute and punny name-all dressed up and no where to go kind of deal. Don’t get be wrong, the 4 people who ended up ordering it LOVED it, but sometimes you have to kill your darlings and we ended up taking the cocktail off the menu. It broke my little heart. But redemption time – I’m still in love with this cocktail and I hope that enough time has passed and palettes are slightly more open, and I’ve gained enough trust to say please try this beauty at home! 



GARNISH: Fennel frond or lemon peel

1 1/2 oz Watershed Vodka or Watershed 4 Peel Gin
1 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz beet shrub
Splash of soda water

In a shaker tin, add all ingredients except for the soda water. Shake well, and strain into a chilled coupe. Add splash of soda water. Garnish. ENJOY!


1 cup beet juice
1 cup of water
2 cups of sugar
Zest and juice of one lemon
1 tbsp fennel seed
1 1/4 cup golden balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup of red wine vinegar
1 cup of  lemon juice

Take beet juice (you can juice this at home, or you can readily buy this at most grocery stores), water and sugar and bring to a simmer until sugar is dissolved and then lower heat. Add lemon zest and fresh lemon juice. In another pan, toast fennel seeds until aromatic.  Add fennel seeds to beet mixture. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once completely cool, add vinegar and bottled lemon juice. Allow mixture to sit for an hour in the fridge and then strain out fennel seeds.

I hope y’all love this cocktail as much as I do. Even if you’re aren’t quite as enamored, thank you for trying it. It has been such a privilege learning and growing with everyone who comes to the class. Thank you for trying our kooky cocktails and for always having fun with us!


Your neighborhood bar geek,
Catherine Manabat