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10 Must Stock Bottles for the Perfect Home Bar

home bar liquor

10 Essential Bottles For Your Home Bar

For many, having a well-stocked home bar is a badge of honor. The liquor you serve can say a lot about you. And sure, some may call it a frivolous affectation. But for those who care, a perfect home bar is something to be strived for – something in which to relish. And so, since we believe a bar can make a house a home, here is our take on the perfect home bar.

I asked our bar manager here at 7th Settlement Brewery, “Jeff, name me the top ten must-stock bottles in a home bar.” Jeff thought for a moment and said, “Well my taste won’t be perfect for everyone.” Jeff is so thoughtful. But I reassured him, “Jeff,” I said again, “you’ve been at this a long while now. You’ve got excellent taste in liquor, just have at it!” And so Jeff thought another moment, blushed a little, and offered something more or less, exactly like this:

1 – Bulliet Rye
Let’s start with the old reliable – whiskey. A good rye whiskey can be mixed with just about anything to create an excellent cocktail. Come to think of it, the right rye is perfect on the rocks or neat. Overall, rye whiskey should be smooth but have a little bitterness. My personal favorite is Bulliet Rye with a dash of Angostura Bitters and a dash of Orange Bitters, on the rocks. Or you can mix Bulliet Rye like we do at 7th Settlement Brewery…continue reading for our Perfect Rye Manhattan recipe.

2 – Buffalo Trace Bourbon
Next up, bourbon. Everyone knows that bourbon is necessary for a good Manhattan or Old Fashioned. However, bourbon is also the key ingredient in the modern day Side Car, the Mint Julep and countless other concoctions. For me, Buffalo Trace is the best bang for your buck and definitely worth always keeping a bottle on hand.

3 – Carpano Antica Formula (Sweet Vermouth)
Don’t forget the vermouth! There seems to be a trend in many bars that vermouth can be done cheaply. Please don’t buy into this. There are incredibly well-crafted vermouths out there and they can make or break a cocktail. Carpano Antica Formula makes my personal favorite Manhattan: 2 parts Buffalo Trace Bourbon, 1 part Carpano, 1 dash Angostura Bitters, served chilled in a coupe or cocktail glass with an orange zest as a garnish zest. How about that, you get an extra drink recipe for free – enjoy that!

4 – Dolin Dry Vermouth
You can’t get away with just sweet vermouth. Dry vermouth is just as important – a staple, in fact, of your home bar. Dry vermouth is key not only for making great Martinis but for the Perfect Rye Manhattan I keep going on about. Keep reading for the recipe! Dolin Dry Vermouth also mixes well with blackberry liqueurs or with crème de cassis, a black currant liqueur.

5 – Flag Hill Karner Blue Gin
Everyone needs a bottle of gin. But a clean, sharp and herbal gin can be a difficult thing to come by. We in New Hampshire are exceptionally fortunate to have Flag Hill so close by (Lee, NH). A good gin can be mixed with almost anything. And a great gin can be sipped on the rocks. Karner Blue fits both bills. There are fewer beautiful combinations in the spirit world as Gin and Dry Vermouth, but a little St Germain does incredible things to Karner Blue Gin. Karner Blue also makes a great Bloody Mary. 

5.5 – St Germain
OK, so I cheated a little with the decimals…but gin just gets lonely without its partner in crime, St Germain. I’ll keep this one brief: St Germain is a great flavor to add to martinis, margaritas or whatever you create. There. Onto number six.

6 – MaCallan 12 Year Single Malt Scotch
This is probably the hardest bottle to suggest. I lost a lot of sleep trying to make a decision and almost left it out entirely. But eventually, my sense of duty took over. You’ve read this far and you deserve a suggestion. See, Scotch taste is all over the map depending on how smokey or peaty you like it. So, in the end, you may have to try a few before you find the right scotch. In my opinion, the best entry level crowd pleaser is MaCallan 12 Year Single Malt Scotch.

7 – Don Julio Blanco Tequila
Tequila can be a daunting decision to the home bartender. Get it right and you’re a hero. Get it wrong and you’re back in college. Fear not, you can’t go wrong with Don Julio Blanco. Don Julio is a great addition to any home bar. It makes a nice, clean margarita (only fresh squeezed lime juice, of course) and a refreshing paloma. Margaritas are also a great way to try out some infused simple syrups or to use your favorite cordials with.

8 – Cointreau
Gin is to St Germain as tequila is to Cointreau, kindred spirits if you will. Cointreau is an orange flavored liqueur that is perfect for many cocktails and a necessity for any margarita or sidecar.

9 – Titos Vodka
It’s tough to make a good Bloody Mary without a good vodka but Titos is also a crowd pleaser for Vodka Tonics and makes a nice vodka martini.

10 – Tall Ship Spiced Rum
You’ll want to keep a good spiced rum available for your rum and cokes but this New Hampshire-local gem works great with root beer or egg nog for the holidays.

And now, the moment you’ve all been reading for. Jeff’s super secret recipe for The Perfect Rye Manhattan:

2 oz Bulleit Rye Whiskey
½ oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
½ oz Carpano Antica Formula
Dash Angostura Bitters
Serve ‘up’ in a cocktail glass or on the rocks. Never shake a Manhattan, but stir it for a good 30 seconds to 1 minute to add appropriate amounts of ice cold water to your cocktail. A good Manhattan should be ice cold and go down smooth.

There you have it, folks. The 10 (and a half) essential bottles for your home bar. Here’s to many fine drink and even more impressed guests.

And remember, don’t buy beer from strangers.don't buy beer from strangers. (tm)

Best New Restaurant: NH Craft Beer & Farm to Table Food

New Hampshire Craft Brewery

NH Craft Beer + Farm to Table Food = Best New Restaurant in New Hampshire!

Although 7th Settlement is primarily a craft brewery, New Hampshire (and the Seacoast as a whole) has so much to offer – we just couldn’t resist. From fresh vegetables and meats to wonderful local liquors and artisans from every walk, adding a restaurant to Dave and Josh’s dream just made sense.New Hampshire Craft Brewery 7th Settlement Enter Executive Chef Taylor Miller.

Taylor took a few minutes out of his day to sit down and talk with me.

Taylor got his culinary start young. “I spent too much time making paper cut outs and throwing darts at the walls of my dad’s office,” Miller recalls. “One day he kicked me out and put me to work.” Taylor started work in a cafeteria as a fry cook. All day long, he found himself dropping basket after basket of fries. And while the oil burns (let alone the monotony) can be enough to turn even the most culinarily inclined away from the kitchen, Taylor deeply enjoyed his work. From the beginning he found himself taken under the wings of his superiors. They must have seen the potential in Taylor that 7th Settlement is now fortunate enough to have. With a father in the food and beverage industry, Taylor had every opportunity to hone his skills – and he relished the opportunity.

At 18, Taylor started his first kitchen managing position. With this multifaceted work, including catering, line cooking, kitchen management and more, Taylor cooked his way through school at the Southeast Culinary Institute in St. Augustine, FL.

Fast forward a few formative years and we find Taylor on the way to his family’s cabin in Maine. On the way through New Hampshire he found Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, formally in Dover, NH. There, he studied French Cuisine and furthered his passion and knowledge of cooking.

At 22, Taylor started his first Executive Chef position at the now closed Chestnuts At the Nest in Portsmouth, NH. While his many years of culinary experience have shape him as a chef, Taylor credits Chef Evan Hennessey as a huge inspiration. “Working with Evan Hennessey showed me how much more I could do in the kitchen,” admits Taylor.

New Hampshire Craft BreweryOver his 21 years of kitchen experience Taylor has learned as much, if not more, from time than his years of schooling. “I guess I’d say I’m most inspired by the flavors of a region,” Taylor explains. “When I worked in Florida it was all about the fish. And when I was in the Colorado I always had fresh meat to work with.” It should come as no surprise (if you’ve dined at 7th Settlement) that our Executive Chef culls his inspiration from the region. You can ask Taylor a simple question about a dish, or even an ingredient, and he’d talk himself blue, expounding on all the wonderful produce and people in the Seacoast area. “It’s really an inspiration and a challenge – working with farmers and fishermen in the Seacoast,” says Taylor. “There’s nothing like talking with local farms who ask, ‘Can I grow such and such for you? Will you use it’?” Taylor shakes his head and steps back to look at the beautiful bounty just in from Two Toad Farm in Lebanon, ME. “The fact that farmers not only like working with us, but that they ask me what I’d like them to grow – relationships like that make this job worth it. Is it a daily headache sometimes? Yeah. But you ask me where I get my inspiration.” Taylor hands me a deep red, marble sized tomato. It’s sweet and savory – still warm from the fields. In other words, amazing. “Yeah,” he says, smiling. “I get produce in from the farmers, I taste it, and ideas for dishes just come to me. It’s really overwhelming how fortunate I am to work with food like this – in a place like 7th that appreciates quality ingredients.”

 

Trying to get to the topic of our Best New Restaurant Award, I ask Taylor what the thinks of the accomplishment. “I think it’s really telling,” he says. “Serving and selling out of crazy awesome stuff like pork belly and pork cheeks, making our own sausage, making almost everything from scratch – we’re not doing anything new. We’re doing things mindfully now the way people used to do out of necessity.” Taylor sees people’s acceptance of restaurants like 7th Settlement as a changing of minds. “People are becoming more open to this kind of food,” he explains. “We’re just doing things the way they should be done. And don’t get me started on the craft brewery. New Hampshire has amazing produce, and being able to work with the brewers – recycling spent grain and yeast for breads, using beer to help direct the dishes we make – it’s incredible.”

Needless to say, we are deeply proud of the accomplishment – and thankful to New Hampshire Magazine. Josh and Dave set out to create a New Hampshire craft brewery. But what they got was a farm to table, community supported brewpub. So here’s to many more years for fine brews, farm to table goodness, and constructive community support.

As we like to say around the brewery, “Welcome to 7th Settlement, where all of your dreams come true!”

And remember, don’t buy beer from strangers.

 

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Farm-to-Table Restaurants: Good for Ground, Town and Diet

With the prevalence of GMOs, super large-scale farming and the complete inundation of herbicides and pesticides, mindful diners and restauranteurs alike are taking good food into their own hands. After its conception on the west coast in the early 1970s, the rapidly growing farm-to-table movement is the answer to a slew of dining disconnects and adulteration — but it has even larger implications beyond simply healthy, local food. A farm-to-table restaurant is more than an eatery — in the communities to which they belong, farm-to-table restaurants are hubs of sustainability, education, cooperation and growth. Farm-to-table restaurants are (and should be) job-creators, schools of thought-in-practice and a driving force for super-farm independence. In short, a farm-to-table restaurant is the best thing that could happen to a town.

7th SteaktipsGood Food

This one is obvious. Done well, your local farm-to-table restaurant should be the best place in town. But that’s not so hard to do. Michelangelo had the Sistine Chapel to work with — of course it was going to be amazing. A restaurant that uses local, farm-fresh food is set up for success simply by the ingredients it uses. Pair that with a talented kitchen, efficient and knowledgable wait and bar staff, and a smart menu and you’ve got yourself a hit.

Farm-to-table restaurants, by their nature are strong contenders among other restaurants. But there is far more to a successful locally-sourced eatery than good food. A talented kitchen furthers its home-grown tendencies by making things in-house. This can include anything from baking bread, making pasta and sausage, butchering and curing meat and brewing their own beer. Menus change with the seasons — offering strong vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. And they are safe havens for those looking for the full gastronomical spectrum: gourmet meals, home cooked favorites, fresh seafood, big burgers and diverse salads — all local, of course.

Although farm-to-table restaurants rely on the diversity of its crops, community members, farmers and businesses, the main goal is food insolation. There should be a sense of pride attach to owning and patronizing a farm-to-table restaurant. And rightly so. But done right, your farm-to-table restaurant should also be affordable. Sure, you will pay for what you get — hand-crafted, local, healthy food — but in-house production with a no-waste mindset can really cut costs. Farm-to-table does not have to be expensive. After all, the point is not to create a luxury — the point is to establish healthy exclusivity from large-scale food producers. Farm-to-table restaurants exist to bring people closer to their food and the place in which it grows — charging an arm and a leg would only be counter-productive. And any money spent goes directly back into the community from which it came. Economic insolation and exclusivity is the best thing for a small economy. But farm-to-table restaurants aren’t just resources for local food. A true locally-based establishment will cull from all of the resources at its disposal.

Good Business7th

This characteristic is one that is both simple and complex. Simple because it is a two-way relationship between local businesses — nothing confusing about that. And complex because the possibilities are endless. There are resources beyond what comes from the ground. And the farm-to-table ideals realize and take advantage of this. Businesses and non-profits, especially small ones, offer services and products that, too, keep money in the community. Your farm-to-table restaurant can offer discounts for employees of these businesses, trade services and products, and function as mutual advertisers.

FarmworkHealthy Education

Education is the difference between a good farm-to-table model and a great one. It’s one thing to provide local food but it’s something else entirely to teach folks where specifically it comes from, how they can provide for themselves, and that they don’t have to spend a fortune on it. Like local business resourcing, the education applications are also limitless. Farm-to-table restaurants can offer classes in cooking and gardening, access to community gardens and farm involvement, healthy eating ideas and ways to mindfully reduce ecological footprints.

Go Eat Well

If you have a farm-to-table restaurant in your town, support it! You won’t regret it. And if you’re looking for one, check out Dover, NH’s newest farm-to-table brewpub, 7th Settlement. They’re exactly what a farm-to-table restaurant should be.

7 Questions You Should Ask Your Beer

How much do you really know about the beer you drink? And why does it really matter? Probably a little and a lot, respectively. Mindful consumption, while on the rise, is far too low. The question at hand is not the why of it — knowing the ins and outs of the beer you buy and drink is always a good thing. The questions is what. What should you be asking and what should you know? Here are 7 questions you should ask your beer. Remember, only you can answer these questions. They type of beer you choose to drink is shaped by your opinion of it. And as long as you enjoy it, that’s all that matters.  So grab a cold one by the neck and start the interrogation. If you’re not happy with its answers, don’t drink it.

Who made you?

And not just the brewer’s name. What kind of person are they? What do they drink? Where did they learn to brew? Brewers express themselves with the beer they brew. It says something about them as a person. It all seems a bit heady, sure. But in buying a beer, you’re supporting a person. Wouldn’t you like to know who you’re supporting?

While this question is a hard one to answer (especially with all the macro-brews out there) it is not impossible. Simply explore the beer around you. Small craft breweries are on the rise and chances are that wherever you are passionate people are pouring local brews. So take a trip, take a tour, try their food, and talk to the people closest to the process. Chances are you’ll find out some amazing things and learn further what you want from a beer.

How are you made?

Do you know what’s in your beer? Hops, malt, all that good stuff, sure. But what kinds of hops and malt? How are they used? How many types are used? How big are the batches and for how long do they ferment and condition? Maybe this information seems a little dry to the casual beer drinker. But knowing about the brewing process and how to identify and describe tastes and characteristics only refines your palate. If you can get past the heady language of mouthfeel, body, aroma and the like you will see what that knowledge does. It changes the way you experience a beer which, in the end, makes the experience leagues more enjoyable.

When were you made?

Go ahead, take a quick break from reading and do a little research on the staple macro brews. Alright, are you back? Chances are you didn’t find a drop of information about when their beer was brewed. With such large-quantity batches and wide distribution, the when of any given beer is a complete mystery. Canning and bottling technology allows for un-chilled beers to last for half a year. If there is an appeal to six-month-old beer, that too is some sort of amazing mystery.

Any craft brewery will be able to give you a brew date. They can probably give you the last half dozen dates. Even when they first brewed a beer. And you can be sure none of that fine beer is six months old. Craft and micro breweries either bottle, keg or can on-site or serve straight from their serving tanks. Or both, depending on their size.

The gist is, you like your food fresh, your laundry fresh, you like fresh air and fresh feelings — why compromise on the beer you drink?

Where were you made?

This one’s the easiest. But it’s also the most important. There are breweries far and wide, around the world, and they’re not all careless macro breweries. And while you should experience the breweries beyond your boarders, patronizing local brew makers is good for your palate and your economy. Insulating dollars spent directly benefits the businesses and people around you. It creates less reliance on economically and ecologically expensive transportation. So, keep it local — you’ll really be helping yourself.

Why were you made?

Was your beer crafted from a family legacy? Was it a whim gone big or the passion of a craftsmen come to fruition? Does the brewer do it for the money or the love of the beer? Are they committed to keeping brewing traditions alive or constantly pushing for novel recipes, tastes and techniques?

It all comes down to your particular preference. But mindful patronage, in the end, really benefits the one person who matters most, you! Spend your money, tell your friends, and your favorite brewery will have the support it needs to brew more and better beer.

Whom were you made for?

Admittedly this one is on the hokey sentimental side, but if you’ve never thought about it, it may change your mind about the beer you drink. Who your beer is made for says a lot about the beer.

Your local craft brewery will make exciting, adventurous beers like you’ve never tasted. And the macro breweries, making beer for the masses will produce something that never changes and never surprises.

So, what do you want out of your beer? What do you know about it? Explore a bit deeper and you may find a new favorite.