Today, on the very first day of Autumn, I have something special for you… a drink that’s truly the essence of all things Fall.
Go ahead: for just a minute, picture all the things you love about this season: crisp mornings. Long drives on the parkway, through tunnels of red and gold. The crunch of leaves underfoot.
Now ask yourself what Autumn smells like: campfires and hayrides, cinnamon and nutmeg, pumpkin pie. And apples — *oh,* those apples, crushed into butter, pressed into cider, and sometimes — on a foggy, rain-wet morning in the orchard — plucked straight from the tree and eaten in-hand.
If I could give you a local cocktail that captured all of that, would you thank me?
Well then, go ahead and slow-clap a little bit — not for me, actually, but for the good folks at Local Roots, who’ve mixed up a special beverage for those who like a little Autumn with their alcohol.
All kidding aside, I want to give a genuine shout-out to Local Roots. I’ve written about my love-affair with this special farm-to-table restaurant before, and my feelings haven’t changed. The warm, friendly atmosphere and the focus on local, sustainable, genuinely good New American food makes this one of my favorite dining establishments in the Star City — both for food and for drink — and each time I perch on a bar stool, set my elbows on the smooth surface of the restaurant’s gorgeous live-edged wood bar, and order one of those fabulous charcuterie platters, I feel at home.
Local Roots has a knack for creating a mix of cocktails that’s both crowd-pleasing and unique. On the one end of the spectrum, there’s Cool as a Cucumber, — a refreshing mix of Prosecco, St. Germain, cucumber and mint … summer in a glass, and a seasonal favorite among Grandin Villagers. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s my husband’s personal pick: the Benton’s Old-Fashioned, made with bacon-infused bourbon, smoked maple syrup, apple and Angostura bitters … the ultimate brunch beverage for those who want something different.
Fog & Smoke fits neatly into the middle of that lineup. It’s the kind of drink that’s reasonably sophisticated enough for a cocktail aficionado, but appealing for someone who just wants something sweet to sip while they’re waiting for a table.
This is a Virginian drink if there ever was one, created around Foggy Ridge’s especially nice Pippin Black cider– a combination of Newtown Pippin apples, late-season Arkansas Black and Black Twig apples, plus Virginia apple brandy. To quote the Dugspur cidery’s website: “To gild the lily we age this blend on Hungarian Oak. Butterscotch and caramel notes combine with rich apple flavor, making this apple port ideal with blue cheese and walnuts.”
You’d think that a cocktail couldn’t improve on this cider much, but Fog & Smoke does. In LR’s typically minimalist fashion, the menu describes the drink as: “foggy ridge pippin black, apple, dewar’s scotch, citrus, smoking cinnamon.”
Let me wax a little more poetic.
The drink comes to the table topped with a fresh apple slice and trailing a wisp of blue smoke. You’ll smell it before you see it: that’s the scent of smoldering cinnamon … a.k.a., Heaven.
Take a sip, and the first thing you’ll think of is apple orchards –row after row of green trees rising into blue hills — and then — as the subtle, earthy flavors of the Scotch begin to open — you’ll understand the name…
Fog & Smoke.
I’ll raise a glass to that.
Dining with a friend who’d like to avoid alcohol? Local Roots offers plenty of choices, from hand-squeezed lemonades and juices to fizzy kombuchas… And of course, don’t forget about the restaurant’s fresh-roasted Dark Hollow coffee.
You’ll find this dining establishment nestled right in the heart of Grandin Village, at 1314 Grandin Road, next to the historic movie theatre. You can drop in for a spot at the bar or for lunch, but reservations are strongly recommended for dinner, brunch or Sunday Supper. Call (540) 206-2610, or stop by the website.