Harvest in the Uncompahgre Valley is a time of vibrant color and flavor. From sweet corn to peaches, beans and grapes, the produce from Delta to Ouray is as eclectic as the scenery. So with such varied crops, and such disparate flavors, it may seem a copout to suggest that a unifying quality is foliage. But in the midst of the monsoon, under the watchful eye of the shrinking summer sun, greenery is the scenery. It feeds the fruits and the flowers, and lends its lushness to form and flavor alike. Here are four vivaciously verdant, Uncompahgre centric drinks that celebrate the glorious greens that surround and abound
La Noue Dubois’ Riesling is a prime example of how terroir, the earth itself, transforms the quality of a global grape. No two wines are created equal, and the Montrose winery’s iteration of the classic German white wine is a uniquely local interpretation. Nestled somewhere between adobe hills, Cimmaron peaks, red rock plateaus and mineral rich Uncompahgre waters, the terroir of this green grape is as dynamic as the landscape, sweet, acidic, mineral, and musty. Crisp for a sweltering summer, yet warming for the midst of the monsoon; a light and lovely wine to celebrate just about any season.
If Riesling grapes are rounded, then hops must be pointed. There’s a directness to hops, and the compound lupulin that gives them their bite. They are green in the most profound of ways, herbaceous, vegetal, hearty and robust. They have a significant presence here in the Valley. From Misty Mountain Hop Farm in Olathe to Billy Goat Hops way south of Montrose, it's hard to miss the telltale trellising of hops.the region. The quality of the produce is gaining attention, with the region’s hops being used in breweries as wide ranging as AC Coors’, Colorado Native. to the local Uncompahgre Valley brewery, Colorado Boy.
So often, cucumbers in drinks are relegated to just floating there, almost an afterthought. But cukes can add a crisp vegetal quality to anything they touch, and they deserve so much more. This non-alcoholic citrusy cucumber-mint spritzer is sure to delight and give the mighty cucumber its due respect!
¾ OZ Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
¾ OZ Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 ¼ OZ Simple Syrup
2 Slices Cucumber
Lightly muddle the cucumber in the bottom of a rocks glass and top with ice. Shake juices and simple syrup with ice. Strain over cucumber and ice, and top with soda water. Give the sprig of mint a good whack, and place it on top of the spritzer for quality aromatics.
A tomatillo is a beautiful thing. Not only is it one of the original all stars of Uncompahgre produce (the indigenous fruits are one of the first cultivated foods in the region), but this often ignored cousin of the tomato is dynamic. It’s acidic, tart, and super fruity, so much so, that it is often called a ground cherry. It lends so much brightness to a drink! Gin, a classically “green” tasting spirit, is so herbaceous that it scares many away with its dominant flavors. But a little charred tomatillo can bring a balance and beauty to a gin martini that may just convert a few of the gin naysayers.
2 ½ OZ Gin
¼ oz Local Honey
Dash Aromatic Bitters (like Angostura)
2 Charred Tomatillos
Muddle one of the charred tomatillos in the bottom of a mixing glass, and add the other ingredients. Mix until chilled to perfection (look for the chilly condensation building up on the outside of the glass). Strain into a martini glass and garnish with the other charred tomatillo.
*For added flare, char your tomatillos for your guests as you make the drinks, using a butane torch.
Written & Crafted by Nickolas Paullus
Nickolas is first and foremost a father. Beyond family, his time is best served as a craftsman of potions, poetry and plants. He believes in the transformative power of each, and so works tirelessly to hone his skills.