Drink This Now: Good Vision, Skips a Beet and more at the Homesteader Cafe

%{[ data-embed-type=”image” data-embed-id=”” data-embed-element=”aside” ]}%

It was a sad day in September when the Local Pig’s Westport restaurant closed, but bartender Erik Mariscal had been absent from the venue for a few months before then. After a brief stint at the Jacobson, Mariscal has found a new nest: the Homesteader Cafe, at 100 East Seventh Street, which opened in September — at the height of Royals season. 

%{[ data-embed-type=”image” data-embed-id=”” data-embed-element=”aside” ]}%Mariscal, a California native, admits he has a soft spot for the World Series champions, despite the halting effect the games had on business. Still, you won’t find any blue drinks on his cocktail list. In addition to the regular menu of classic cocktails — including a daiquiri, a Bees Knees and a Sazerac — Mariscal has a chalkboard special of seasonal drinks. When I stopped in last week, there were four vastly different options. I decided that, you know, I should probably sample all of them. To be fair. 

Mariscal has used both carrot juice and beet juice as ingredients in his cocktails with enormous success, and I was pleased to see he was keeping up the practice at the Homesteader. I started with his Good Vision: fresh carrot juice, tequila, housemade spicy ginger syrup, Montenegro Amaro and thyme. It was served over ice in a Collins glass, garnished with ribbons of carrot and a sprig of thyme.The texture was light, and the bite of the tequila was evened out by ginger.  It smelled like a garden, and I sucked it down like I’d worked out and earned it. (I hadn’t.)

I resolved to take the next drink slowly, and Skips a Beet was definitely a sipping cocktail. Mariscal combined beet juice, Creme de Cacao, Amontillado Sherry, Batavia Arrack (a Javanese rum), lemon juice and sugar, shook the ingredients together and strained into a martini glass.

This drink had an odd, earthy profile. The chocolate liqueur and the thick spice of the Batavia Arrack meant that the Skips a Beet was heavy, like a dessert drink. The lemon juice helped to brighten it up with a hint of acidity. This cocktail was daring; beets and chocolate together is not a flavor for everyone.

%{[ data-embed-type=”image” data-embed-id=”” data-embed-element=”aside” ]}%The Herb-Sage-ous — lemon juice, gin, sage, Louisburg apple cider, aquavit and sparkling wine — was far easier on the palate. It was elegant and rather simple, despite the multitude of ingredients — as familiar as a mimosa, with a few more notes. 

My inner basic could not resist Mariscal’s Pumpkin Spice Not-So-Latte. His tongue-in-cheek reinterpretation of the insipid Starbucks phenomenon was one I’d gladly wait in line for, with homemade pumpkin puree, brown-sugar-pumpkin-spice syrup, lemon juice, bourbon, egg white and maple syrup. Mariscal shook this twice — once dry, then again with ice — to get a frothy, latte-like foam. It’s a flip-style drink that he served over ice, and it tasted like a pumpkin-spice chai with a kick. That kick was bourbon, and I approved.  

“When I saw what [Homesteader co-owners] Jeremy [Lane] and Megan [Kendall] were planning for this place, I kind of inserted myself into the equation,” Mariscal told me. “I was like, ‘Oh, you want to use a bunch of local ingredients and stuff from your own garden and do rad things in your kitchen? I think I can get on board with that.’ It seemed like a good fit. Almost all the herbs and vegetables I use at the bar are from their garden or local producers. That’s in line with my own vision for bartending.” 

Mariscal mentioned a few other projects he had in mind for for the bar program, such as bar snacks like deep-fried chicken skins and a brunch cocktail that will somehow involve Fruit Loops. 

The Homesteader Cafe is open daily, with happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. (Cocktails are $2 off, beer and wine are $1 off, select small plates are half-off.) For full hours, see the restaurant’s website

See also
Bartender’s Notebook: Erik Mariscal brings a chef’s attitude to his bar at Westport’s Local Pig
Local Pig Westport’s Erik Mariscal has a fresh cocktail planned for Bacon & Bourbon
Drink This Now: Pirate’s Booty at Local Pig in Westport

Categories: Food & Drink