I'm on a mission to revel in as much of autumn's bounty as I can.
Yes, I said "autumn's bounty." Can you blame me? It took this season long enough to get here. So in celebration, I (my taste buds, really) am devouring apples and spice and any and everything associated with the crisp, tart fall goodness one can find at Baltimore area farmers' markets.
That especially means cider. I could bathe in cider … but I'll spare you that tale. I also like to bake with it, marinade things in it, and I especially enjoy imbibing a few dozen cocktails mixed with the alcoholic variety. Hard cider is a delightful bite of sweet acidity that adds warmth and depth to just about any drink, which is probably why I've noticed an abundance of cider-themed drinks on menus around town. But by far the most creative comes by way of the innovators at Mr. Rain's Funhouse. Infusing hard cider with gin and sherry, their Beads Before Barrels is bold and daring.
Beads Before Barrels is listed under "Cobblers and Cups" on the cocktail menu, which, according to beverage director Perez Klebahn, involves mixing wine or beer of any kind, fruit, herbs, sugar and charged water. Check off all the above here. Monkton's own Millhouse Harvest Cider adds local flavor to the drink. Klebahn and company tend to favor local and or small batch distilleries for most of their cocktails, mirroring the seasonal theme of Mr. Rain's food menu. The drink also utilizes Barr Hill gin out of Vermont, a fantastic little find that is infused with raw honey — and a very sensible partner for the presence of Amontillado, a dry Sherry. Sherry in cocktails — not just for cooking anymore! — is relatively new, relatively trendy and dicey to execute properly in a mixed concoction. But here, it's smooth, nutty profile works well with the other two seasonal ingredients — house-made pear and anise syrup.
The Amontillado also reminds me of the short story of the same name by adopted Baltimore son, Edgar Allan Poe. Another perfect nod to the playful darkness of the season. And even more reason to order, then savor the full, fall flavorings of Beads Before Barrels at Mr. Rain's Funhouse while you can. Just make sure to not follow any strangers through the deep ,haunted recesses of ancient catacombs after you do.
How to Make Beads Before Barrels
1 oz. amontillado sherry
1 oz. Barr Hill gin
2 oz. Millstone Cellars Harvest Cider
3/4 oz. pear and anise syrup
1/2 oz. fresh lemon juice
Combine gin, sherry, syrup & lemon juice into shaker. Shake and pour over crushed ice into a Collins glass. Add Millstone "Harvest" Cider. Garnish with lemon thyme & fresh fruit
Where to Get Beads Before Barrels
Mr. Rain's Funhouse