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Blessing the Blossoms (and vineyards) in Traverse City

“After a winter like the one we just had, I think we vinters can use all the help we can get.”
~ winemaker Robert Brengman

Asking for help from a higher power is something probably as old as agriculture itself, and something that goes back generations here in Traverse City. While the blossoms are being held up by the new “Endless Winter” plan we are apparently operating under, we hope that things will return to normal soon and offer these upcoming events as a ray of hope.

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Photo Friday: March Contest Winner!

Frosted Cherry Trees

oni_one_ (Sarah Hunt) wrote that it will be nice to see these trees white with blooms instead of snow, and apparently our readers agreed when they selected her photo as the winner of our latest photo contest!

Sarah wins 2 tickets to the 2896 Vertical Dinner on Saturday, May 17th at Bowers Harbor Vineyards! You can learn more about the dinner and Bowers’ 2896 wine in this eatdrinkTC feature.

The Traverse City Zinger by Michael Ruhlman

Noted food writer Michael Ruhlman was in Traverse City last fall for Pigstock. On Fridays, he often posts a “Friday Cocktail Hour” featuring a hand-crafted and delicious drink along with plenty of backstory and a beautiful photo by his wife, Donna Turner Ruhlman. Michael graciously allowed us to not only share the Traverse City Zinger recipe that he created a few years ago, but he has also let us start our own Friday Cocktail Hour series!

On Fridays when we can, we will feature a cocktail presented by one of TC’s cocktail artists – tune in next Friday for the first of what promises to be a tasty feature!

Friday Cocktail Hour: The Traverse City Zinger Returns

by Michael Ruhlman

The Traverse City Zinger

The TC Zinger. Photo by Donna Turner Ruhlman.

michael-ruhlmanI’m presumably in Stonington, Maine, cutting pig and rejoicing in the glories of the hog with Charcuterie pal and co-author Brian Polcyn, to benefit the Island Culinary & Ecological Center. (Join us if you’re anywhere near Stonington! Details here.) From Maine we return to wonderful Traverse City and Pigstock, so I’m reposting this splendid cocktail made from gin and preserved Michigan cherries (don’t have any on hand? improvise!—a gin sour with preserved fruit). —MR A PR firm sent me a bottle of Nolet’s gin, which I was happy to taste (and used in The Southside), but when I was researching the gin I came across a Cocktail Enthusiast review of the gin, and lo! What’s this? The author of the post, Kevin Gray, included a cocktail recipe pairing the gin with sour cherries. His post calls it a Nolet’s New Fashioned. (I don’t think any general drink name should be brand specific, unless it came from the company, which this one did—shame on you Kevin! Have a little imagination, or steal, like I do!)

Gray’s post accurately reviews the qualities of Nolet’s; it is indeed superlative gin. Slightly more floral than my beloved Beefeater, but still very dry. It’s so good, in fact, that arguably it should be saved exclusively for martinis. Honestly. If it sucked I wouldn’t drink it or write about it. But, hey, I’ll drink Barton‘s, so that’s who you’re dealing with here. I recently returned from Traverse City, MI, tart cherry capital of the country (Michigan grows 70% of the total U.S. harvest, I was told), and in my Pigstock swag bag was a jar of local cherry preserves. As I’d bought some Michigan grappa and pear brandy (happily, Brian and I managed not to polish off the entire bottle that night), I was forced to check a bag ($25, thanks Delta, I’ll be flying United next time), so I returned with the preserves as well. And because I’m still so totally jazzed on the whole Pigstock and Northern Michigan experience, I offer this cocktail. The first of the preserves went on Donna’s morning biscuits, but then they went into this heavenly cocktail: gin, pulverized preserved cherries, and a gingery bitters (Angostura or whatever’s available to you is fine). I do all of my pulverizing in a mortar and pestle; no wimpy “muddling” in this household. Love this cocktail. Thank you, Kevin and Nolet’s, but I’m renaming it.

The Traverse City Zinger

  1. Pulverize the cherries using a mortar and pestle.
  2. Add the gin and bitters to the mortar. Give the drink another stir with the pestle.
  3. Pour into a lowball glass over ice.
  4. Raise your glass to Mother Nature and ask for a good growing season in Northern Michigan next year.

Editor’s Note: February is National Cherry Month so maybe you can make it really local with a Traverse City gin.