While we were not located in the path of totality, our rooftop view from the Eastern Coast was brilliant. The audience at Richmond, VA's Quirk Hotel took the better part of the afternoon off to stare into the sun and grasp a little bit of science and history.
Kitchen in Season's 'Street Treat' pop-up kitchen launched this week at the Hotel De Anza in downtown San Jose, California. Tonight the set up was in their courtyard, but will move into their 200 sq foot cafe after renovations are completed. Guest Chef Curtis Valdez came out with a Mojo Pork Sandwich of marinated pork loin, garlic-cumin aioli, sliced radish, pickled Fresno chilies and house-made potato chips. The line was long, and the sandwich was a great combination of flavor and heat.
Kitchen in Season caught up with Best Beverage Catering’s Shane McKnight as he was preparing for the Outside Lands music festival in San Francisco
KIS Let us start with the basics! What is your position with Best Beverage Catering?
SM I came on as the Director of Mixology in 2010 and started a large scale division of Farm-to-Keg, Craft on Draft and handcrafted cocktail offerings for the smallest most intimate private events for 50 people on up to Coachella, Outside Lands, Nightlife at the Academy of Arts and Sciences, The Super Bowl, upscale music venues all over the country and various marketing events supporting our cherished liquor industry partners.
KIS Outside Lands is coming up this weekend, what will you be doing to prepare for such a large event?
SM Today we are brewing 600 gallons of MIXI’S “LIVE” HANDCRAFTED GINGER BEER to fuel our most popular TITO’S “LIVE” HANDMADE MULE. We also just finished infusing 30 gallons of Kaffir Lime cane syrup with lime leaves. This afternoon, I will be testing the status of large batch of my house-made Root Beer Bitters.
KIS You specialize in a “Craft on Draft” system, can you give us some insight into the system?
SM The 5-gal Cornelius keg is the perfect chill-able, sealed vacuum to keep batched farm fresh cocktails fresher than any other container. We pressurize everything with CO2 or NO2 to remove all oxygenation which keeps our batches even fresher. Our mobile draft systems are super attractive and visible to guests and thanks to our liquor partners, most of the cocktails have a customized tap handle that helps the guest identify the cocktail just as they would recognize a craft beer. My favorite advantages of these systems is consistency, power to force carbonate anything, and the ability to contain super high pressure “LIVE” fermentations that are constantly expanding. Let me add one thing, and let’s be honest…nobody likes waiting on their feet for a cocktail for 20 minutes in line. We like to help our guests aquire a perfectly fresh and balanced craft cocktail and move on to their next objective as quickly as possible. We offer plenty of other styles of craft cocktail services in which we handcraft each cocktail in a more intimate environment where people aren’t waiting on their feet.
KIS With all of the interest in ‘mixology’ and small batch, craft spirits; where does your ‘Farm-to-Keg’ philosophy fit into this trend?
SM My favorite recent evolution at our larger festival projects is the growing recognition and respect for the Craft on Draft Cocktail offerings. Now that people recognize it, they prefer it to any other style of service, and they are quick to tell us and give us a high five. People are VERY excited to be exposed to better cocktails through a more approachable frequency. My favorite new projects involve adding 1 or 2 “LIVE” draft cocktails like MIXI’S “LIVE” MULE & ETERNAL SUNSHINE TONIC at many of our music and indoor bar venues to compliment the other offerings.
KIS What draft cocktails did you offer last year?
SM OH MY GOD…they were amazing! We offered the following last year:
TITO’s “LIVE” MULE
Tito’s Handmade Vodka, “Live” Ginger Beer, Lime & Saffron Bitters.
Pour directly over ice and garnish with sliced lime & saffron bitters
FRONT PORCH PEACH TEA
Ole Smoky Peach Moonshine, Sweet Tea & Fresh Lemonade.
Pour directly over ice & finish with mint sprig & sliced peach
Jameson Irish Whiskey, “Live” Ginger Beer, Lime & Peychaud’s Bitters.
Pour directly over ice & finish with mint & Peychaud’s bitters
Bulleit Bourbon, Lemon Juice, Orange Honey, Amaro Nonino, Mint. Pour directly over ice & garnish with mint & Saffron Bitters
Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Green Chartreuse, Falernum, Cucumber, Lime Juice & a mist of Clandestine Absinthe. Pour directly over ice & garnish with sliced cucumber & mist of Absinthe
Ole Smoky White Lightnin’ Moonshine & fresh lemonade, rhubarb bitters & mint.
Pour directly over ice & garnish with sliced lemon & mist of rhubarb bitters
KIS Can you give us a teaser of what we can look forward to this year?
SM We have perfected our own house-made Basil & Grapefruit Tonic on draft to make love to Tito’s Handmade Vodka even better than last year….
KIS Finally, where can we find these cool beverages at the festival?
SM We have a large CRAFT ON DRAFT BAR in the center of the Polo Fields facing the stage, we have our biggest CRAFT ON DRAFT BAR in Lindley Meadows, we have an awesome CRAFT ON DRAFT BAR in the woods near CHOCOLANDS and we always feature 3 cocktails in VIP and in the Barbary Coast Tent where the comedians perform.
KIS Thanks Shane!
Kitchen in Season caught up with Donkey and Goat winery’s Jared Brandt as they were celebrating their 10th Anniversary in Berkeley, California.
KIS Donkey and Goat was at the forefront of the East Bay’s urban winery up-spring, what were the advantages to opening up with this format?
JB We opened up in the bay area since I kept my day job for several years. It is nice to live in the urban environment and we find that we benefit from better relationships with our customers. We often have restaurant staff, who sell the wine at night, come and help make the wine in the day.
KIS Why the choice of Rhone varietals; was it because of vineyard sites or personal preference, or both?!
JB We choose Rhone varietals since we both loved drinking them, felt they fit the climate of California and it is what we learned to make. El Dorado, near rivers, is very similar to the Rhone Valley. Hot days, cool nights, granitic soils, loess etc.
KIS Donkey and Goat employs a very natural approach to wine making, do you find that more care and time is needed in the overall process?
JB We have been making wines in the same fashion since we started in 2004 with a focus on care. Our goal is to make great wine without touching it – we spend time making sure we don’t have to. Little things like not letting tools touch the ground and big things like no SO2 until near bottling all add up to make a wine we want to drink. Our ingredients are simple – hand harvested, hand sorted grapes and SO2.
KIS Are there any grapes that you are working with that haven’t made it to the public yet, or is there a wishlist of grapes that you would like to work with?
JB We have Clariette planted which we are super excited about. It will come on line next year. Tracey started a bio-dynamic pinot gris project this year which so far is lovely.
KIS Do you and your wife Tracey take on different roles in the wine making process?
JB Yes and no. Some wines we jointly own – e.g. we make all the decisions together. Some wines are predominately made by one of us. Many people wrongly assume it is reds verse whites. For us, it is vineyard and varietal based.
KIS What is next? I heard a rumor of a second label, any truth there?
JB We have started a second project called Cineres. The name comes from an inscription on a fireplace in Sicily – “Ignis Exardescit Et Exstinguitur, Cineres Manent, Haec Veritsa Vitae Est”. The wines are Napa fruit – Cab and Chardonnay. Made very naturally – so similar in that sense to Donkey and Goat. Different in that they will be racked a bit more often (once before the bottling racking verse only the bottling racking for Donkey and Goat) and with a bit newer of oak. Our interpretation of Napa.
KIS Is there anything else that is unique to Donkey and Goat that our viewers absolutely should know?
JB A very hard question to answer – maybe just that we hope they try the wines!