Edible Monterey Bay


Try this spicy drink when the season gets a little spooky

Photography By Margaux Gibbons

When I imagine a cocktail, I am hoping to create a mood, a feeling, an entire theme in just one glass. For this cocktail, I imagined something you would drink in a remote cabin in Big Sur in October, warmed and welcomed by the heat of the fire.

The celestial giant Neptune, nearly four times the size of Earth, inspired the name for this drink. Every autumn it swings to its closest point to Earth in the entire year. But to the naked eye, the enormous and magnificent Neptune appears as merely one slightly brighter illumination in a star-strewn sky.

On first impression, this cocktail seems easygoing, straightforward, merely a bit brighter than the rest. As you continue to enjoy, its flavors reveal themselves slowly, speaking to you in a sophisticated conversation sip by sip: subtle warm sweetness, brief underlying spice and then a mysterious exoticness you can’t quite put your finger on.

Correctly made, cocktails should play more than a single note; there should be an entire symphony in every individual taste. To balance the tanginess of the blackberry in this cocktail, it needed some structure, so Venus Spirits Gin Blend No. 2 stepped in. Locally crafted in Santa Cruz in small quantities, Gin Blend No. 2 is aged in oak barrels, which add music of their own.

It can’t all be left up to taste; the eyes need to be intrigued as well. You first need to drink it all in with your eyes and then your palate, which is where the distinctive color and garnishes of this recipe come in. Cocktails need to invite you and welcome you to try them with dear friends. For this one, I not only imagine the warm cabin fire, but sitting on a deck, gazing at the ocean while fog tucks Monterey Bay into its fall blanket. Wherever you serve it, I hope it conjures these scenes for you.