Mixing it Up | Local Style
By Kara Pound
Put your soda gun away and stop stocking up on those mini cans of pineapple juice. Cocktails have taken on a new form. St. Augustine’s craft cocktail culture is raising the bar to better drinking. From housemade syrups to vinegar-based shrubs using local fruit, there are dozens of mixers in the Nation’s Oldest City to up your drink game.
Check out Moonbooch Kombucha and Local Booch Kombucha. With a history dating back to 220 BC, kombucha is a fermented, lightly effervescent tea drink that’s lauded for its health benefits. The beverage is produced by fermenting tea using the SCOBY method, which stands for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.”
Sure, it sounds kind of strange, but this stuff is quite good. Local Booch peddles tasty flavors like lavender-elderberry and ginger everywhere from Rype & Readi’s new market on Riberia Street to Dos Coffee & Wine. You can find Moonbooch Kombucha at the Saturday farmers market at the Amphitheatre as well as Crave Food Truck.
Kombucha goes great with vodka and gin for a bubbly spring or summer porch sipper. Throw in a few citrus wheels or some fresh herbs and you’ve got a cocktail sure to waken up the senses.
If shrubs are more your speed, Dog Day has you covered. They offer up the vinegar-based mixer in flavors like watermelon-mint, honey-lemon and blueberry-basil.
“We use a cold pressed method,” explains Shelby Stec, owner and operator of Dog Day Gardens. “For citrus flavors, we macerate the peels in evaporated cane juice until all the oils are released, then we add the fresh juice and vinegar. For berries and other fruits, we pour the evaporated cane juice over the fruit, wait for a thick syrup to form, press the solids out of the mixture and add the vinegar.”
Dog Day Shrubs are available at Juniper Market, Broudy’s and The Ancient Olive on King Street. Try the honey-lemon shrub with gin for a modern take on the classic Bee’s Knees cocktail.
The St. Augustine Distillery is another local entity focused on making cocktail creation easier and – for lack of a better term – more tasty. The distillery’s gift shop has mixers to match every spirit they distill in-house including the Florida Mule Mixer with lemon and ginger and the tropical Tiki Mixer with pineapple and coconut.
Ready to impress your friends and family by taking the dinnertime toast to a whole new level? Check out this recipe from Moonbooch’s Hannah Drozd.
2 oz. St. Augustine Florida Cane Vodka
1 oz. fresh lemon juice
1 oz. Yaupon Tea simple syrup
Top with “We the Beet” Moonbooch Kombucha
How to make Yaupon Tea Syrup:
Steep Yaupon Tea in water, strain out tea, add equal part sugar to the tea and let dissolve. Let cool.
“We the Beet” Kombucha:
100% Yaupon Tea base with fresh Florida beets, lemon, and ginger.
Add all ingredients to the shaker except for Kombucha. Give a good shake with ice, then strain into a Collins glass. Add fresh ice to the cocktail and top with Kombucha. Garnish with lemon wheel and fresh mint.