October 7th, 2008

Drink NH

Bartender Jeff Grdinich at the White Mountain Cider Co.

It’s true — my home state has a bar worthy of cocktail geeks. You won’t believe your eyes when you check out the White Mountain Cider Co.’s drink menu. This cozy, fine eatery in Glen (just a few minutes up Rte. 16 from North Conway) has the sort of small, rustic but well-stocked bar that you could imagine James Bond ducking into after an Alpine ski chase. Sazerac 6-Yr Rye? Fee Bros. Whiskey Barrel-Aged Bitters? Luxardo Maraschino? In NH? I had to pinch myself.

The Cider Co.’s chief bartender-mixologist is Jeff Grdinich, whom you may have seen around town lately. He was a finalist in the Hendricks Gin Beantown Bartender Battle in August, and he pops down here pretty regularly to hang out with his bartender colleagues and even sit in with them from time to time — he has done guest stints at No. 9 Park and Eastern Standard. And he was part of the Yankee contingent that made a strong showing at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans this year.

Jeff is equally comfortable with classic and molecular mixology; he can put out a faithful rendition of the 1937 Avenue Cocktail (bourbon, calvados, passion fruit juice, real pomegranate grenadine and orange flower water), as well as concoct a boozy homage to Duck L’Orange, complete with duck fat-infused spirits and Grand Marnier. His recipes have been published in the Wine Enthusiast and Nation’s Restaurant News, and his Gin-esaisquoi — a mixture of Hendrick’s, Lillet Blanc, falernum, egg white, orange bitters and cardamom dust that appears on the Cider Co.’s current menu — was chosen for Food & Wine Cocktails 2008.

My favorite cocktail during a recent visit was Jeff’s own The Root of All Evil, which is inspired by Chuck Taggart’s Hoskins. It’s a mixture of Bulleit Bourbon, Grand Marnier, Luxardo Maraschino and Fernet Branca chilled well over ice and served straight up. It’s as beautiful and soul-stirring as autumn leaves. Take a drive north, admire the foliage, then stop in at the Cider Co. and end the day with an exquisite cocktail. You’ll feel like you’ve gotten away with something.

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10 Responses to “Drink NH”

  1. Adam

    Sounds great. I’ll be up in that neck of the woods this weekend and hope to swing by.

    Anyone when/if Jeff is working?

  2. MC Slim JB

    This is encouraging news for cocktail lovers, sort of an indicator of how far the ripples are traveling outward from the handful of urban centers where these trends first make splashdown. Let’s see… from the opening of The B-Side Lounge in 1998 to Glen, NH in 2008. Not bad!

  3. ljclark

    Adam, Jeff generally works on weekends and takes Monday and Tuesday off, I believe.

  4. james fox

    been reading for a bit, awesome posts. there is actually a Bond book where he sneaks around VT, the short story For Your Eyes Only. (http://commanderbond.net/article/1090). he drinks miller high life though in that one…no joke.

  5. ljclark

    Bond goes to VT and drinks High Life?! Good god, that’s fantastic.

  6. claire

    great post! The blue trout grill in keene is pretty awesome -neighborhoody, but with quality drinks, but WMCC looks even better!

  7. Dougie Fresh

    There is something deeply disturbing about seeing all those awesome vintage cocktails printed in Comic Sans font!

  8. Mary

    My hubby had the pleasure of dining and drinking at Jeff’s bar about a month ago. In addition to several excellent cocktails (one of which was The Root of All Evil, I think) he can’t stop talking about the burger.

  9. KEEBLER

    hi all! thanks to lauren & all the other boston fans that have been in recently & have been spreading the word @ the cider co.! we sure do appreciate it!! hope you all continue to enjoy our little oasis up here in the mtns.

    to answer a few questions…
    - yes i am usually off mon & tues. bar seats are 1st come, but if you know you are heading up my way, please contact me ahead of time & i’ll see what we can do about making sure have a seat.

    - it was the root of all evil, you can read more here thanks to the lovely ladies of LUPEC… http://lupecboston.com/2008/10/16/ferneducation/

    - there is a new menu as well as of last week… lots of fun new stuff, including the new BOLS Genever, Hayman Old Tom & more. & yes, it’s all presented in a nice new font ;-)

    thanks lauren! cheers!

  10. Carra-ryed Away

    [...] being said, I checked it out from the library rather than buying it). The recipe is credited to Jeff Grdinich (no, that’s not a typo) of White Mountain Cider Co. in Glen, New [...]

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