Local Mixologists & Local Herbs Star at Annual Wornall/Majors House Herb Cocktail Party

Andrew Olsen (left) and Berto Santoro are two of the mixologists for the herb cocktail party.

Andrew Olsen (left) and Berto Santoro are two of the mixologists for the herb cocktail party.

Mint, lavender, thyme, rosemary and basil will play a starring role in specialty drinks prepared for the Wornall/Majors House Herb Cocktail Party, held on Thursday, April 23, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Alexander Majors Barn (8201 State Line Road). The cocktail party helps support educational museum programming at the John Wornall House and Alexander Majors House and Barn as well as community outreach.

Andrew Olsen (Cleaver & Cork), Zac Snyder (Cleaver & Cork, Julep), Ryan Miller (Voltaire) and Berto Santoro (Extra Virgin) from the Kanas City chapter of the U.S. Bartenders Guild collaborated to create three custom cocktails and a mocktail.

“We did a classy Julep recipe to go with the barn theme,” says Berto Santoro, president of the KC chapter of the USBG. “We’re using barrel-aged Samogon, a Russian moonshine similar to a pisco or un-aged brandy, with sugar and mint.”

Using Samogon instead of traditional bourbon presents an interesting twist on the classic cocktail. The spirit’s origins trace back to rural laborers in Russia that made it in homemade stills and used a variety of ingredients – potato, corn, beetroot or grains – added to the fermenting mix.

“We will also create a Rosemary Vodka Collins with London vodka,” says Santoro.

Ryan Miller (left) and Zac Snyder helped create the cocktails for Thursday evening.

Ryan Miller (left) and Zac Snyder helped create the cocktails for Thursday evening.

Vodka Collins is a spin off gin-based Tom Collins, a drink named after American John Collins that took a detour. According to cocktail expert and historian David Wondrich, John Collins, the head waiter of London’s Limmer’s Hotel in the 1820s and 1830s, became associated with the popular gin drink in its heyday. Interestingly, Stephen Price, an American who ran the Garrick Club, also in London, actually invented the drink. Collins, a nicer gent than foul-mouthed Price, ended up getting credit. Later in the century, Americans began drinking a “John Collins” made with the newly-popular English Old Tom gin, which is essentially a brawnier and sweeter London dry gin. They began asking for “Tom Collins” and the rest is history.

Another drink created for the evening is a vodka cocktail made with Stiletto vodka that incorporates lavender, thyme, lime and an oleo saccharum (sugared oil) made with grapefruit peel and sugar.

Santoro says, “We will also have a fizzy non-alcoholic option prepared with fresh basil, lemon, and Amarena cherry.”

The last ingredient refers to a tart cherry candied in a sour cherry syrup. This cherry varietal was developed by Gennaro Fabbri, who began producing and retailing liqueurs and cordials in 1905 as Fabbri 1905 in an old drug store he acquired.

The herbs, grown in the garden outside of the John Wornall House (6115 Wornall Road), add a touch of seasonal aroma and flavor to the drinks. Chef Shannon Kimball of Flavor Trade will also prepare a tasting menu that complements the beverages. Tickets are $35 and The Recommended Daily is proud to sponsor the event.


Pete Dulin is a Kansas City-based writer and author of Last Bite: 100 Simple Recipes from Kansas City's Best Chefs and Cooks. https://lastbitecookbook.com/

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