If you've been tasting wine all day in Napa or Sonoma, by sunset you might be ready for a change of pace. Ad Hoc, Thomas Keller's family-style restaurant in Yountville, recently got its liquor license, and the team, including Bar Manager Christian Schnurr, Sommelier and Assistant GM Jessica Pinzon, and GM Josh Blackman, has been busy perfecting a Keller-approved 6-item cocktail list that just made its debut. We took the launch as an excuse to head up to wine country to check it out.
"The thought behind the whole program was to keep true to the larger vision of Ad Hoc," said Blackman. "We wanted to make cocktails that are simple and delicious without being boring," adds Pinzon. "That's how Ad Hoc is, too—classic family style dishes that are done so well that it's exciting." The team points to carefully chosen spirits: for example, they use Leopold Brothers' gin and Silver Tree vodka from Colorado. They pick their garnishes from the garden out back, and are busy making syrups and liqueurs to further customize the drinks. "We like to make our own," says Schnurr, "If there's a commercial product out there I'd rather have my go at it first."
The food at Ad Hoc changes daily, so the drinks, all $12, are meant to be flexible, whether sipped as a pre-dinner aperitif or alongside a meal. "The spice notes in the Averna Negroni," notes Pinzon, "would be great with fall food—any protein that has some warming spices on it, or a side dish with butternut squash." She recommends the tart and fresh Huckleberry Bramble with a cheese course or a salad. "It's bright and fruit forward, but still very layered—that hint of mint, the citrus." The cocktail menu will change gradually over the seasons.
Want to see what they're shaking up now at Ad Hoc? Check out all the cocktails in the slideshow above.