Food 101: Fall Cocktail Menu
Food 101: Fall Cocktail Menu
It is officially fall and you know what that means? Cool weather, fun sweaters and falling leaves ——– except we live in Atlanta. So the best way to get in the fall weather mood is to drink about it. I sat down with the Food 101’s Beverage Director Chris Benjaminsen to look into how he perfected the beverage menu to fit the season. At Food 101 they thrive on originality. Not only do they see it, but they create it. This season’s fall cocktail menu is a great place where this originality is showcased. Situated in the transition period between the fresh drinks of summer and heartier winter ones, these fall creations bring a perfect mix to the table. With over 10 new menu items Chris really showcases some of the best flavors of the season, and creates the perfect mix of savory and sweet. He stresses the transition phase, still utilizing the freshness and fruit of summer without 100% diving into the pumpkin spice phase (but don’t worry they are still Instagram worthy).
Food 101 doesn’t set out to teach you anything, but you will leave knowing something new. Known to regulars as the “ Barrel Bar” due to their use of aged liquor from barrels.They remain old fashioned , yet essentially they are always one step ahead of the game. Their style is immediately recognized upon reading the menu with names like, The Frisco Kid, Raspberry Beret, Golden Years and The Road Crew, which pay homage to pop culture and timeless movies. These are subtle references so it is always exciting when someone picks up on the name. With so many great choices it was hard to narrow down which drinks to highlight. With the amount and variety of drink you will literally need to “catch them all” one day. I asked Chris what his favorite drink is, to which he replied the Sazerac, which appears on the “Classics Revisited” list. He also offered helpful food suggestions to tailor your choice, The Frisco Kid is great paired with enchiladas or heavier dishes, any drink with Whiskey goes best with steak, and the Sangria is lighter and is paired nicely with salmon. Glancing at the menu there are many ingredients, some of which you may never have heard of but mix in a way which brings the drink to its fullest. Other notables include “Garden Party’ which contains fresh celery bitters and gin, “Bee’s Knee’s” which contains Lavender honey syrup, and The Road Crew- a staple- which includes a great friendship of Jack Daniels Tequila, and peach puree.
Chris has heartily decided that he has found his passion and is sticking with it. He first found this with the beverage industry in during his time at Georgia State after taking a job as a waiter. He was immediately hired after the bartender left him to work the bar and felt he was the only one that had a strong enough personality to thrive behind the bar.Working at such an upscale bar, Chris was forced to wear a collared shirt and black tie, which is not his style. Within a hours of being behind the bar and not producing to his standards, he promptly loosened his tie and ran the bar his way–albeit very successfully. From these early bartending experiences Chris passion was ignited and he began to see himself holding a career in the beverage industry. Chris then pursued a culinary degree and learned the timeless tricks of the trade which are still widely regarded. Many bars fall into the latest “hyped up”trends, to which Chris replies “ give me a shaker a spoon and the drink will turn out the best”. Not only will it turn out the best, but you can trust it is made with fresh and local ingredients. With the help of local farms, this dedication to finding healthy ingredients is key. The purees are picked from peach farms in Georgia and grinded and stored to use all year.Unlike other fresh food trends and campaigns, Food 101 stresses getting back to the grassroots and delivering the freshest food from the source.
So when looking for your next bar check out Food 101’s Barrel Bar. If there is any advice Chris can impart, it is to go out of your comfort zone. If you usually order the same drink, try something new–it’s good for you