Watch out wine, gin’s making quite a splash in the culinary scene.
The art of pairing floral, fruity, citrus notes of gin varietals with the right cheeses, as well as the great uniter, honey, has taken epicureans and foodies by storm. You know Edmonds is already way above that curve, with the presence of two artisanal giants: award-winning Scratch Distillery and the town’s first legit wine and cheese bar, Vinbero, formerly The Cheesemonger’s Table.
A deep, abiding love of gin drove the wheels, coppery stills, and columns of Scratch in the first place. Kim and Bryan Karrick opened their Salish Crossing distillery in 2015 to share their Gin Equals Love motto, forged when the two college lovebirds began courting back in the late ‘80s (and Bryan reportedly whipped up a gin and tonic for Kim on their first date, awwww).
To hop on the Gin with Cheese, Gin Equals Love train, head straight to their recently spiffed-up bar top for weekend tastings, Thurs./Fri. 4 p.m.-6 p.m., Sat./Sun. 2 p.m.-6 p.m. Taste first, then decide.
The friendly, knowledgeable staff is on hand to help with pairing ideas, blends, and recipes, sourcing their four distinctive, organically sourced, non-GMO, botanically infused, scratch-made works of wonder: Gin & Tonic Style, Martini, Holiday, and Barrel Finished Gin.
Depending on the notes of the varietal infusions, gin — like any fine wine — tends to play extremely well with cheese, and honey, nature’s ultimate cheese and charcuterie platter. You can thank gin’s starter, the woodsy-fresh juniper berry, for that.
Usually, gin needs a flavor boost, as in a cocktail of some sort. But some people prefer to drink it straight with ice, while snacking on robust Stilton cheese.
A standard gimlet (Scratch recipe) is made better with a spin on rosemary simple syrup.
“I like to heat 50/50 sugar/water over low-medium heat on the stove, stirring constantly until the crystals dissolve, then I take it off the heat and throw in some rosemary sprigs,” explained master distiller Kim Karrick. “Let sit for 30-60 minutes to taste, strain off rosemary. It’s good in the refrigerator for a couple weeks. The rest of the ratios and instructions [of the recipe] are the same, but maybe garnish with a rosemary sprig.”
She recommends sipping a Scratch gimlet with a plate of hard, salty cheeses, like a Manchego, Parmesan, or Asiago.
“I chose this cocktail, because I love the way the balance of the herbal notes, the sweet and the tart, all balance with the salt of many cheeses.”
A gin and tonic highball goes well with a creamy, soft brie or camembert, as well as a tangy Danish blue. The buttery mouth-feel of a soft cheese balances nicely with the striking bitterness of the palate-cleansing tonic, while matching up with and enhancing the floral notes of the gin.
Negroni? Bring on the salty bliss of a Pecorino, slightly tangy Buffalo mozzarella, even a Pizza Quattro Formaggi — whenever it’s on special at Fire & The Feast.
How about a Fire & The Feast Mushroom Salsiccia Pizza (fontina, goat cheese, garlic confit, spicy sausage), partnered with a Paloma Italiano (BroVo gin, grapefruit, lime, blood orange)? Brilliant!
For your at-home pleasure, pick up a bottle of strong, 90-proof Scratch Barrel Finished, and blocks, rounds, bites of robust cheese, as well as to-go cheese boards, from wine bar, cafe, and cheese shop, Vinbero, opened in 2021 and run by husband-and-wife team Kris and Kali Kelnero, proprietors of another popular, namesake craft cocktail lounge.
Ginned-up Bloody Mary makes total sense with flecks of Parmigiano-Reggiano and Manchego. Think spaghetti marinara topped with Parmesan or Burrata. Right?
Sweet herbaceous honey — The Cottage Community Bakery in Perrinville carries tons of these, locally sourced — brings gin and cheese together, organically.
How about a Bee’s Knees cocktail, fortified with Scratch gin, from Niles Peacock Kitchen & Bar (Scratch’s Salish Crossing neighbor) and summery, salty, grilled Cypriot Halloumi salad, with roasted pluots and wilted dandelion greens from Kelnero?
A tarty Sloe (fruit) Gin Fizz digestif, with cranberry/pomegranate/lemon vibes — easy on the juniper — goes well with mild-mannered goat cheese for a holiday party.
Feel free to push your adventurous side and serve Scratch’s signature Holiday Gin, awash in citrus and fall-winter spices (nutmeg, pink peppercorns, cinnamon, ginger), alongside all that festive goodness.
Or sign up for a GINiology™ class and come up with your own favorite infused gin, and experiment with the seasonal bounty found at any number of Edmonds’ outdoor markets (the city’s Winter Market’s open now through April).
Whip up your own fancy concoctions with inspiration from a host of Edmonds-based bars, pubs, and taverns. Edmonds Downtown Alliance (Ed!) has the goods on all the best ones.
Kelnero features gin in many of its classic and creative new cocktails, from the honey and earthy, fir-forward Lumberjack (yes, they use Scratch Barrel Finished Gin) to the bracing Kelnero Martini, served wet, shaken with Scratch Potato Vodka.
Look for dishes with velvety goat cheese for the Lumberjack and a strong, rich sheep’s milk cheese, like feta, to keep up with the stiff martini.
The point is to have fun with it. Let Edmonds be your go-to guide.
Skies the limit.
Images from Scratch and Vinbero. Honey shot at The Cottage Community Bakery by Carol Banks Weber. Visit Edmonds Downtown Alliance (Ed!) for more info about these and other Edmonds establishments.