Message in a Bottle: CBD sparkling water comes ashore

Beak and Skiff Apple Orchard of LaFayette, NY, has created a CBD sparkling water that’s washing ashore in the Ocean State. 

If you haven’t heard of Beak and Skiff, you may know them for their colorful hard cider brand, 1911 Established. The nearly 110-year-old apple orchard produces their handcrafted cider with a “Tree to Can” process, making 1911 a fresh addition to many local draft lists. You may have seen their gorgeous cans in restaurants and liquor stores around the state. Since mastering the art of hard cider, the family-owned farm has ventured into a new product — cannabis — and so far Rhode Island is the only state aside from New York to carry the resulting drink.

The bubbly beverage is described as “full spectrum hydration,” and is offered in an array of flavors — mango lime, blood orange and black cherry. It has zero calories and zero sugar, and contains 20 milligrams of hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD extract. 

Not all CBD is created equal, and that’s why Beak & Skiff has all their products tested by a third party for quality after it is grown on the orchard and processed in their state-of-the-art hemp house. “As a 100% family-owned-and-operated business now in its 5th generation, integrity and transparency are of the utmost importance to us,” says owner Marianne Brennan.

You can find Beak & Skiff’s CBD Sparkling Water at liquor stores around RI, including Nikki’s Liquors, Jamestown Wine & Spirits and Heritage Liquors. For more, go to beakandskiff.com

Feeling No Dolor at Dolores: This Oaxacan restaurant offers up straight-forward and rarely seen cocktails

For my final patio of my summertime excursion (read the other articles in the series, too — Tiny Bar and Little Bitte), I chose Dolores. Dolores is a Oaxacan restaurant, and I’m a big fan of agave product; the choice was easy!

I started with a drink I’d never had before: an alcoholic tepache. Tepache is a traditional Mexican drink made with partially fermented fruit, often pineapple. This was a Tepache Collins with tequila, fermented pineapple, spices and mineral water. Wow! I can’t believe it took me so long to fall in love with tepache. This drink has all the barnyard funk of a fermented fruit with the brightness of the lemon. It’s reminiscent of Riestra and French ciders, which I love because of the fermented funky notes. I could drink this all day, every day! 

Next, I couldn’t resist a rarely seen Sotol based cocktail. Sotol is of the dasylirion genus, the name of the plant and the spirit are the same and translate to desert spoon. Sotol is a traditional spirit in Northern Mexico, but is a rare find in both liquor stores and bars, so I was really excited to see yet another gem in this authentic Oaxacan restaurant! The Sotol Sour is made with two different sotols, passionfruit, lime, panela (unrefined cane sugar), bitters and a red wine float. Oh my goodness! How could I have been even more pleasantly surprised by the Sotol Sour than I was the Tepache Collins? This cocktail was earthy and woody, with a hint of smoke and a mellow passionfruit finish. It was reminiscent of a New York Sour, a whiskey-based drink that I have always loved. Garnished with a dehydrated lime wheel and layered with the red wine float, this drink was as beautiful to taste as it was to look at it. I hope that this never comes off their menu and I can’t wait to make it back and have more! 

So in conclusion: Dolores, let me count the ways I love you! 

Frosé All Day

As if you needed another reason to drink rosé, frosé was invented! And the good news is you don’t have to be a master bartender to make a yummy frosé at home. Here’s a simple and easy recipe for making your own, with the added bonus of a little gin!

You will need:

  • 1 bottle of rosé
  • 1 ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce Kennay Farms Gin
  • 1 ice cube tray (4 ounce cubes recommended)

Freeze 4 ounces of the rosé. The rosé should be left to freeze at least six hours. Remember, it’s alcohol, so it will take a while to freeze! I let mine sit overnight. 

Once your rosé cubes are frozen, put two in your shaker (that will be 8 ounces) then add the simple syrup and gin. Shake a few times — not too much because these cubes are not as solid as ice cubes, they will quickly become slushy. 

Pour the contents into a large martini glass. Garnish with a dried rose bud (for aesthetic purposes only)!

I chose the Kennay Farms Gin because of its citrus notes. This gin isn’t super herbal, so I think it pairs well with rosé. But if you don’t care for gin or don’t have one that is citrusy on hand, that’s okay, you don’t need the gin at all in this drink to satisfy your craving for frosé.

The simple syrup, though, is a necessity. No frosé (that tastes good) exists without sugar added. This is because rosé will get bitter as it freezes. The wine cubes will oxidize in the freezer and the chemical compounds will change, which changes the flavor profile. Keep this in mind when choosing which rosé to freeze. Don’t spend a lot of money on this bottle because it’s not worth it. 

Now go forth and impress your friends with this easy at-home recipe! Cheers! 

A Toast To Takeout: Raising a glass to Rhode Island’s carryout cocktails

Huck’s Filling Station

Ah, the drudgery of January! Bank accounts are looking slim from holiday gifting, the recent snowstorm lines the streets with less-than-Instagram-friendly slush, and they just took “The Office” off of Neflix. Worst month ever? Wait just a second! What if I told you there was a way to beat the New Year doldrums with … *drumroll please* … takeout and delivery cocktails! Yes, even though it’s 2021 and I’m keeping my fingers crossed this pandemic ends soon, one of the best things to come from this past year of socially distant savoir-faire is the ability to enjoy takeout with a side of spirits. These places prove that even though we’re dealing with less-than-ideal circumstances, there’s always room to lift a glass to brighter days ahead. So curl up under a cozy blanket and toast to a better New Year, even if it’s a bit different than before!

Huck’s Filling Station: Savvy Rhode Islanders know that this East Greenwich hidden gem is worth the trip for next-level comfort food, but did you know that their takeout and delivery menu is packed to the gills with radical refreshments as well? Wait’ll you get a taste of beverage director Ryan Draine’s house-made takes on saloon stalwarts. The cinnamon Fireball packs a scorching punch, and the Dr. McGillicuddy’s is the historically accurate 1865-inspired draft that’s the natural companion to binge watching Bridgerton on Netflix. Or maybe that’s just me? Either way, Huck’s has got you covered for all things alcohol, and you don’t even have to leave the house! Online ordering for takeout and delivery at hucksfillingstation.com and contactless pickup at 4654 Post Road, East Greenwich.

Diego’s: This Newport taco and margarita institution’s brand new PVD location burst on the scene in December to bring South of the Border style to those of us who refuse to go over the bridge! Bar manager Lisa Virgadamo whips up some of the best margs in RI, made with fresh squeezed fruit juice and house-made infused tequila. Of course, the classic can’t be beat, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more pizzazz, the sweet n’ sour sensation of the Blood Orange Margarita is truly stupendous, and the gorgeous deep pink color makes for a #trending-worthy Instagram post! Online ordering for takeout at diegosnewport.com or diegosprovidence.com and contactless pickup at 11 Bowen’s Wharf, Newport or 192 Wayland Ave, PVD.

Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails: No, this isn’t your typical brick-n’-mortar bar, but if you want to expand your knowledge of libations and treat yourself to something a bit different, you’ll want to check out Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails! Willa Van Nostrand’s unique operation (whose name means “please and thank you” in German) cordially hosts virtual cocktail making classes featuring local botanical spirits, and offers cocktail subscription boxes with weekly drink recipes and a perfectly paired snack to get you through the dullest month of the year. You treated everyone for the holidays – why not treat yourself? Online ordering at littlebitte.com and contactless pickup window for cocktail kits at 268 Broadway, PVD.

Tiny Bar, Big Dreams!: Popping the cork on Providence’s newest hidden gem

Lift a little glass and your spirits at Tiny Bar!

What is one ambitious lady to do when she’s got a rad old building, tons of fanciful ideas for its usage (A coffee shop? A takeout counter?) and the verve and pluck to get it done? The answer was simple to Joanne Chang: “Let’s do a bar!” That very notion led her to open Tiny Bar, PVD’s smallest saloon. Don’t be fooled by the name, though. Their bar program turns out some of the most peerless potions in Providence!

Chang designed Tiny Bar as a light and bright space with decidedly feminine flourishes. “I wanted to dispel the notion that everyone wants to sit in a dark bar and drink. A lot of bars are designed by men, and we don’t often see many that are designed by women.” What Tiny Bar lacks in space — the scant eight stools at the intimate bar gives lucky guests a personalized experience with attentive and talented bartenders — they certainly make up for in personality! Chang notes that the building lent itself well to a hidden urban oasis vibe, and the Tiny Bar team ran with it to fabulous results, adding a patio with gorgeous greenery and a rotating mural and sculpture collection featuring PVD-based artists. While Tiny Bar is relatively new to the restaurant scene, they’ve been going strong since November 2019 with no plans of slowing down.

The unique cocktail menu’s crown jewel is the Amethyst, a tequila and lavender concoction that has become Instagram famous, and with its bold violet hue and floral garnish, it’s easy to see why! Not in the mood for something trendy? Drink like a regular and order the Espresso Martini, an off-menu “secret” beverage that combines local Rhodium black walnut coffee liqueur with super concentrated espresso that will keep you up long into the wee hours! Tiny Bar serves offerings from Rhode Island and Southern New England purveyors whenever possible, so keep an eye out for hometown favorites like Two Rhodes, Whalers, Newport Brewery, and Canned Heat beers, and vino from Rumford’s Anchor and Hope Winery. 

As Tiny Bar transitions from summer to fall, seasonal changes are in store for their menu. Pay them a visit as the days grow short for cozy offerings such as the scrumptious Tiramisu Cocktail, topped with a ladyfinger and fresh whipped cream like its namesake, and the Spicy Honey, a kicked-up jalapeño green tea brew. Of course, there’s also the No Name Cocktail, capped with a fig foam and dried mission figs.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has posed difficulties for the drinkery, Chang and her team are making it work, offering socially distanced outdoor seating and doing all they can to create a sanctuary from the stresses of 2020. She adds, “[We] are so thankful for the community and for everyone who came during COVID and had a great time. It’s a weird time, and folks don’t need to be going out to drink when they can do so at home. We’re grateful that people chose to visit us, though. They honored what we’re doing, responded to the vibe and menu that we’re doing, and we’re super humbled.” I’d raise a glass to that!

Tiny Bar, 377 Richmond Street, PVD; @TinyBarPVD; closed Mondays

A Cool (Bob)Cat In Town: The Royal Bobcat cocktail bar brings 1920s zest to Atwells Avenue

Providence flapper gals and dapper gents, take note! There’s a chic new cocktail bar slinking its way onto the scene, and it’s the cat’s meow! Nestled on Federal Hill, The Royal Bobcat is here to bring all the fun and friskiness of Roaring Twenties New Orleans to PVD! Owners Ellie Coyne and Dan Becker take their vintage concept to the next level with a craft beverage menu that pays homage to classic libations, like a Sazerac, prepared with enough absinthe to make Ernest Hemingway proud. True to the form of a genuine Southern-inspired speakeasy, any of their drinks can be ordered with an absinthe rinse, and Coyne and Becker look forward to hosting absinthe tastings at The Royal Bobcat’s bar! Sign me up for sure!

Not in the mood to imbibe? No worries! The Royal Bobcat offers two signature mocktails, a Cranberry Jalapeño and a Cardamom Ginger, and both are flavored with Bootblack Syrups, a handmade cocktail syrup made in Rhode Island. I tried the Cranberry Jalapeño, and the kick from the candied pepper was an unexpected but pleasant surprise! Oddly enough, I’m a fan. In addition to mixed drinks, The Royal Bobcat stocks local draft beers, ciders and even unsweetened Granny Squibb’s iced tea in cans. Don’t see something you like on the menu? Bartender Steve Sharp, who also doubles as Foolproof Brewing Company’s head brewer, will whip you up a custom concoction based on your tastes — another detail that sets this one-of-a-kind watering hole above the rest.

Hungry for more? Head on over to the in-house takeout window, Hanju Kitchen, where you can dine on “Ko-Cajun” cuisine from Chef Jenny Han. She uses her South Korean roots coupled with The Royal Bobcat’s southern flair to create a truly unique and memorable menu. Sink your teeth into a massive Po’Boy Sandwich, stuffed to the gills with your choice of fried shrimp, tofu, or Korean bulgogi beef and topped with Asian pickled veggies and a house made remoulade sauce that’s slap yo’ mama good, or the popular kimchi mac ‘n’ cheese, which combines the traditional Korean fermented cabbage with a rich three cheese blend of Parmesan, havarti, and cheddar cheeses, and of course, plenty of noods! This is a far cry from the blue box mac, and for that, I am very grateful. Chef Jenny got her start working at fancy-schmancy Chez Pascal just down the hill, and although Hanju Kitchen’s offerings are decidedly casual, the love and attention that she puts into each and every dish that comes out of her kitchen window is totally apparent when you take the first bite! And the second… And the third…

A visit to The Royal Bobcat is the ultimate beginning or end to a starry Providence night. Whether you’re coming for a dinner with friends before painting the town red, or a romantic nightcap at a secluded table for two, one thing’s for certain: The team at The Royal Bobcat certainly proved Jay Gatsby wrong when he said, “You can’t repeat the past” with this whimsical throwback to a bygone era where everything old is new again. After all, a little party never killed nobody!

Note: The Royal Bobcat is temporarily closed due to state order.

The Royal Bobcat & Hanju Kitchen, 422 Atwells Ave, PVD; The Royal Bobcat Open 4pm – midnight Sun – Thu; 4pm – 2am Fri – Sat; Hanju Kitchen Open 5:30 – 10pm Mon – Thu; 5:30 – 11pm Fri – Sat; Closed Sundays