Survey says: Forty three percent of people say this is the best season for cocktails.* We agree! So, what are the other 57 percent thinking? Probably that any season is a good reason for a good craft cocktail.
At the Ørchard on Catawba Island, we can’t argue with that either. Of all the cocktail seasons, spring comes with the return of fresh, ingredients grown in our own garden and orchard. We can’t resist adding them to the cocktails recipes created in our restaurants or bars.
Right now, fantastic herbs are popping up in our garden rows that have the magic to transform any spirit into a refreshing seasonal sip. We’ve already harvested bunches of emerald green spearmint, the classic star of mojitos, juleps, and spritzers. A bit subtler than peppermint, we gently muddle or mash the spearmint leaves with sugar, releasing the oils that add brightness and sweetness to drinks made with everything from vodka to bourbon. Mint is the spring headliner in The Coop’s Hen House, an unfussy, crisp cocktail that blends Ketel One Botanical Cucumber and Mint, lime juice and simple syrup with our fresh mint. It deserves to be enjoyed on our patio overlooking the orchard.
One of our favorite drinks for spring at the Farm Stand is The Herbalist. We pluck sprigs of thyme from the garden, lightly bruise the tiny leaves and steep into a simple syrup. Shaken with Hendricks Gin, St. Germain elderflower liqueur, and fresh squeezed grapefruit, it’s a complex balance of earthy, floral, peppery, and citrusy flavors. Herb infused simple syrups are a staple in our mix stations and that deliver something unique, like the licorice tones of the blackberry and tarragon simple syrup in The Purple Rooster, The Coop’s beautiful amethyst-hued mélange. We recommend that this beauty be admired for a bit before you sip.
The garden at the Ørchard on Catawba Island also yields a lot of basil and this time of year we are happy to pick fresh again for our pizzas and sandwiches at the Farm Stand and main plates at Ørchard Bar & Table. First we make sure to reserve some of the juicy leaves to muddle or mash, releasing sweet flavors of anise and cloves for The Coop’s Motherclucker (yeah, we said it) lemony gin drink topped with a bubbly Prosecco float or the Farm Stand's Blueberry Basil Margarita with tequila, fresh lime, berries and agave. Once you know how basil can liven a cocktail, you will never think it’s just for pesto.
There are a few good things about the end of spring. One is that summer is around the corner. Another is that Ohio strawberries begin to come on and the beekeepers are staring to draw the spring honey harvest from the hives scattered about our peach orchard. Bottled under our Henny B’s label, spring honey is as coveted as the arrival of fresh herbs: light in color. delicate in taste. and a sometimes substitute for simple syrups. We bow to the change in seasons by combining the berries and honey our restaurant’s Honey Berry Mule, a vodka drink topped with a splash of ginger beer. It’s sweet, spicy and spectacular. So cheers! Let’s toast to warm weather and cool cocktails at the Orchard on Catawba!
Ørchard on Catawba is about an hour from Toledo and just over an hour from Cleveland. We’re on the way to the Miller Ferry and an easy stop whether you’re going or coming back. We are open daily at 8AM and invite you to join us for dining, wine, beer and cocktails, a wonderful shopping experience and a chance to enjoy the atmosphere of the grounds, from the orchard to the vineyard and all the feature we create to make your visit special. Visit us at 3350 NE Catawba Rd, Port Clinton, OH 43452.