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Klaus just returned from a lovely trip to Vermont.  He’s very fortunate to have been invited to the Northeast Kingdom and make new friends along the way.  One of these friends, Todd Hardie is a bee keeper and maker of a most marvelous group of spirit medicinals.  The raw honey that goes into his marvelous vodka, gin and elderberry cordial speak clearly of his passion for healing.

Vermont is rife with family farms.  It’s not easy to make a living here in this often harsh environment.  Get away from the ski towns that live off the tourists and discover a place that is off the usual path.  I suggest doing this by following food and drink.

Klaus thinks that if you want to win the heart of a beautiful woman you must ply her with his newest loves, Vermont maple syrup and Vermont cheeses.  Of course Klaus tells me that there has to be some liquor in there too.  That’s where Todd Hardie comes in.  Klaus is smitten by the flavors exemplified in each sip of Barr Hill Gin and Barr Hill Vodka.  You see, Klaus discovered that these spirits are actually made from something that comes from bees! In Germany and Caledonia bees were raised for their honey.  This honey, when fermented and distilled is powerful medicine used by apothecaries for hundreds of years.  Now in the modern age, this distillation of honey goes into Barr Hill products.  It’s remarkable and delicious.

Vermont Maple Syrup is richly scented and deeply aromatic.  It’s memorable from the minute it touches your tongue and the finish goes on and on.

I was fortunate to visit Jasper Hill and received a private tour of the cheese caves.  Jasper Hill, if you are not familiar makes highly expressive cheeses that speak clearly of Vermont.

Klaus had to stay inside because of the FDA regulations about cleanliness.  He would have had to receive a total sterilization.  He wasn’t happy about that, so he took a nap instead.

Klaus just told me that with Valentine’s Day coming up, he thought a considerate gift of raw honey would be in order.   Raw honey does many things, Klaus tells me.  But I think what Klaus is really trying to say is that for Valentine’s day to be truly special there must be a drink to make basic conversation a bit easier.  Why is that Klaus?  He’s not talking right now.  He’s napping.  The trip up to Vermont was hard on the little guy.  All those new faces to remember and all those kisses he received.  Klaus if you are just discovering him is quite famous.

In keeping with the theme of Valentine’s Day and Klaus having only a ceramic heart, love doesn’t come easily to him.  Oh sure, all the ladies love Klaus but I’m not sure that he can love them back.  He certainly has enough admirers.  Right Klaus?

As long as he has a drink nearby all is well.

Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to have more than one, within reason of course.  Why is that?  Because my (Klaus’s) drinks are quite intoxicating!  He’s interested in flavor and aromatics from always-fresh herbs, even in the winter!

Klaus brought some gorgeous fresh sage the other day at the Asian market.  He explained to me that this sage, when carefully lit on fire makes the most beguiling smoke.  He went on to explain that if you have burning sage and you hold your Boston Shaker over the top, you can capture this smoke within the shaker!  Klaus went on to explain that Barr Hill Vodka, (distilled from raw honey, of course) when mixed with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, and smoked sage “smoke” makes for a colorful and potent cocktail.  One nearly guaranteed to make “conversation” easier later in the evening.

The smoked sage and grapefruit juice act as a foil to the more potent, honey-tinged notes of this exceptional vodka.  Those who have be following my writing know that I normally don’t write about vodka, so it has to be pretty darned exceptional for me to even take note.  Barr Hill is that product.  Klaus explains to me that happy bees make passionate spirits.  I agree.

Klaus says that the happy bees make honey that has a memory.  I said to Klaus that his Valentine’s Day cocktail is just brilliant.  Perhaps he should have two or three at the least?

It’s up to him to fall in love somehow!!!

 

Captain Bickford Cocktail (Named for a hopeless romantic in the work of Robert Louis Stevenson)

Ingredients for two strong drinks

3 oz. Barr Hill Vodka

5 oz. Freshly Squeezed Grapefruit juice

2 oz. Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water in Lemon Essence

5 drops Wild Branch Foods Elderberry Syrup

Fresh Sage leafs

Hand cut ice

Urban Moonshine Maple Bitters

 

Preparation:

In a fireproof dish, light the sage on fire so it smolders

Capture the sage smoke in an inverted Boston Shaker

Add ice to the sage smoke

Add the Vodka and the grapefruit juice with the Elderberry syrup to the smoke and ice filled shaker

Cap and shake hard for 20 seconds

Pour into an old fashioned glass with one cube of hand cut ice

Pour Perrier Sparkling Natural Mineral Water over the mixture into two glasses

Garnish with a sage leaf a few drops of the Urban Moonshine Maple Bitters to finish.

 

 

Klaus hopes to get lucky this Valentine’s Day…. With a few of these in his flask, he’s sure to do very well at something…. Klaus?????  Oh, he’s wandered off again.   Trying to find his true love. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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