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First Look: Cocktails at Goose & Gander, St. Helena, CA
When Scott Beattie set up shop at newly opened Goose & Gander in St. Helena, it was a homecoming in more ways than one. "I did my senior year of high school here in St. Helena," Beattie said, mixing drinks behind the bar of the stately, California hunting lodge-style space. "This is a neighborhood bar. But, we can have a better, more extensive cocktail program."
Beattie, the lauded cocktail maestro behind Healdsburg's Cyrus and, more recently, Spoonbar, will be bringing his seasonally-influenced style of mixology to the Goose & Gander basement bar, with a 30-plus item cocktail menu boasting foraged laurel bay leaves, home-grown borage, and a program of bottle-aged cocktails. Teaming up with Michael Pazdon of SolBar, Beattie noted that Goose & Gander's cocktail program has been his first opportunity to showcase a number of the recipes described in his book, Artisanal Cocktails.
"We got together and thought, what do we want to come in a bar and order?" Beattie told us, explaining the extensive selection of classic cocktails amped up with local flowers, herbs, and housemade syrups. "The menu is made up of classic drinks that we're passionate about."
"Michael's spearheading the handmade ingredients—grenadine, coconut cream—and I'm spearheading... the flowers?" Beattie said, laughing. "I'm not just a gardener, I pickle things!"
The menu has also allowed Beattie and Pazdon to experiment with bottle-aging cocktails more extensively than before. In part, they hope to manage the bar's high volume ("We can take a 7-step drink and make it a 2-step," Beattie explained), but also are seeing positive results flavor-wise. "It gives the drinks a more integrated nose," Pazdon said.
Other things to expect include hand-cut ice (chiseled first with a chainsaw, then with a bread knife) and antique glassware. And, while the cocktails are certainly the point here, both Beattie and Pazdon emphasized the importance of the space itself.
"This is one of the most beautiful bars in the country" said Pazdon. "I was sitting here when it was still Martini Bar thinking, 'Man, I sweat this bar!' The first night we were open, it felt good to be home."
Still to come? An outdoor space for summer nights, and maybe even extended hours. "We're planning on serving the bar menu until midnight, but if it's midnight and its packed, we're staying open," Beattie told us.
"People don't necessarily expect great cocktails in Napa Valley," Pazdon said. "They'll come in and be like, 'Anything but another glass of wine, please!' And I've got your back."
Goose & Gander
About the author: Lauren Sloss is a bicoastal food-lover who is based in San Francisco. Some of her favorite things include The Black Keys, goat gouda, and guacamole. You can follow her on Twitter @laurensloss.