Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Little Leaf Farms: Born Local, Raised Right (Part 2)

"Born Local. Raised Right."
--The motto of Little Leaf Farms

As I mentioned yesterday, Little Leaf Farms is located in Shirley, a 14 acre-site within the Devens Regional Enterprise Zone. This zone is the former location of the 4,400-acre Fort Devens military base and is now administered and regulated by the Devens Enterprise Commission. Within this zone, you'll now find private residences, schools, open parkland, and numerous businesses. Paul Sellew, the founder of Little Leaf Farms, worked with MassDevelopment to acquire the 14-acre site, investing a significant amount of his own money into this endeavor, indicative of his confidence in this project.

A three-acre facility was constructed, with 1 hectare of growing space within the greenhouse, which is the equivalent of about 2.47 acres. The construction of the facility included numerous aspects intended to conserve energy, be more sustainable, and contribute to the success of this hydroponic operation. For example, the Devens site was specifically chosen so they could use more affordable and sustainable energy, as Devens uses a significant portion of solar energy. In addition, the glass used in the construction of the greenhouse was specially designed to maximize the use of natural sunlight. During the winter, when there will be much less natural light for the greenhouse, they will use LED-powered grow lights, which use 40% less electricity than conventional grow lights.

The greenhouse was constructed with a north-pitched roof so that it could collect rainwater, which is then stored in a 2 million-gallon basin located to the rear of the building. One inch of rain provides them about 75,000 gallons of water and their basin is currently two-thirds full. The rainwater is their primary water source and their goal is not to use any other water, absent any significant drought. Interestingly, despite the scarcity of rain this summer, the farm still acquired more water than they needed for their purposes. Thus, they haven't had the same drought problems which have plagued California this year. None of their water is wasted as it is all used by their leafy greens. Their entire system uses about 90% less water than is needed for traditional field-grown lettuce operations, significant savings of an important and limited resource.    

Before the water from the exterior basin can be used in the greenhouse, it is first disinfected with UV light, using the machinery pictured above. This ensures the water isn't tainted before being used to irrigate the leafy greens.

Once the water has been disinfected, it is then stored in this interior water tank, where it will then be used for irrigation, as well as partly for the temperature regulation system.

Most of the operation of the greenhouse is automated, meaning much less labor is necessary, and they currently only have ten employees. They do need to have one of their two growers present every day of the week. The growers include Pieter Slaman, the Head Grower and a fourth-generation Dutch lettuce grower, and Tanya Merrill, the Assistant Grower, who graduated from Cornell University last year with a horticulture degree.

Watching the entire process is amazing, seeing how smoothly it runs, from seeding to packaging. And it all begins with the pelleted non-GMO seeds, like those pictured above, which are obtained from Holland. The seeds are expensive and Little Leaf purchases a large amount of seeds on a regular basis as they harvest on a regular basis.

This is Juan, the "father" of the greenhouse, as he is responsible for seeding.

The entire process begins with an empty, long white plastic growing tray, referred to as a gutter.

Next, a strip of "horticultural stonewool" (pictured above) is placed into each tray. The stonewool is a fibrous substitute for soil and is actually made from crushed and melted rock basalt, which eventually gets spun into wool. This stonewool is specifically designed to hold water and air, and is also natural and inert, meaning it doesn't provide any nutrition to the plants. Because their seeds are grown in stonewool, and not soil, their leafy greens currently cannot be labeled as organic. Hydroponics and organic certification remains an area of contention. Seeds are then added to the stonewool and the tray is then conveyed on a belt to the greenhouse.

For the first three days of their life, the newly seeded trays, are kept beneath the rest of the trays, gaining the shade they need for germination. Once they have sprouted, then the trays will be automatically moved to the same level as the rest of the plants.

Within the green house, there are 12 production lines, with a total of 2130 gutters. The oldest plants are located the closest to the conveyor belts, and the gutters will move forward each day. In addition, as the plants get larger, the space between the gutters increase so that each plant gets sufficient light as crowding could create too much shade. Each day, 120 gutters, per line, will be harvested and it takes only 25 days from seed to harvesting. As such, each gutter could be seeded and harvested about 14 times during the course of a year. They do not harvest at full maturity, harvesting at a time when they feel the leafy greens are at maximum flavor. Maintaining the balance of the lines and gutters is very important to their operation.

This is a gutter which I witnessed being moved to the conveyor belt, ready to be harvested, and headed to the cutting room.

Paul stated that their projected annual yield should be in the low millions of pounds! Hypothetically, if their total yield were 2,000,000 pounds, that would equate to 1000 tons, or about 400 tons per acre. Now, let's compare that to the average yield of leafy greens on an acre of land in California, which is only 12 tons. Little Leaf is producing as much leafy greens on one acre as it would take for over 33 acres in California. That is incredible and is a massive savings in valuable resources. As I said yesterday, lettuce production occurs on about 323,000 acres, but if the Little Leaf process was used, you could decrease that amount down to only 9700 acres!

Little Leaf uses a hydroponic system known as "nutrient film technique," where, in short, water containing nutrients, feeds the plants. Little Leaf purchases all of the various ingredients separately including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients, and then creates their own nutrient blend, carefully selecting each ratio.

They do not use any chemical pesticides, opting instead for more biological control. Insects which could cause problems include aphids and white flies, and one of their means to controlling this threat is through parasitic wasps which live within the greenhouse. The greenhouse is also "over pressure enclosed" so that when you exit the greenhouse through a door into the cutting room, you will confront a large burst of air, which is partially to keep the greenhouse cooler in the summer and all helps to prevent insects from flying into the greenhouse.

From the greenhouse, plants that are ready for harvesting move on a conveyor belt to the cutting machine, where air is blown to ensure the leaves are raised before cutting.

The leaves are sorted, and then maybe mixed, dependent on what is needed for the final product.

For supermarkets, the leafy greens are sent to a packaging machine, which places mixed greens into 5-ounce bags, which use 90% less plastic than some of the plastic "clamshells" used by other lettuce companies. The bags are then boxed, refrigerated and shipped out the next day. With California and Arizona lettuce, it will take a number of days to get trucked across the country. Little Leaf lettuce could be on your table the day after it is harvested.  In addition, harvesting, cutting and packaging at Little Leaf occurs in a matter of minutes. On a typical field-grown lettuce farm, the time from harvesting to packaging is probably measured more in hours.

For food service distribution, they sell four-pound bulk boxes, and this is one of the only times there is any human intervention, but even then, the employees wear gloves to maintain hygienic practices.

The trays which once held the harvested plants are emptied and then disinfected by steam so that they can be reused. And the process begins anew.

To be continued....

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Little Leaf Farms: Local & Innovative Leafy Greens (Part 1)

Where is the lettuce and arugula you eat grown? Most likely, it comes from California or Arizona, transported across the country to New England by truck. You might find a small amount of local lettuce at farmers markets, grown on farms which can provide leafy greens only within a specific season. However, there is now a new option, a compelling lettuce farm, located in Shirley, Massachusetts, which can provide leafy greens year-round and which should serve as a model for the future of lettuce farms across the country: Little Leaf Farms.

First, let's explore a little bit of the fascinating history of leafy greens, to see its importance to ancient cultures. It is thought that the ancient Egyptians were the first people to cultivate lettuce though they generally didn't eat it. Instead, they used its oily seeds and the milky sap that oozed out when you broke a piece of lettuce. That milky sap would later provide lettuce its name, based on the Latin word "lactuca" which means "milk." The Egyptians felt that milky sap was an aphrodisiac and dedicated it to Min, their fertility god.

Arugula was also once thought, by the ancient Romans, to be an aphrodisiac. Who would have thought a simple salad could enhance your love life? For the ancient Greek and Romans, lettuce was considered more of a food source, though initially they served it at the end of a meal, as they believed it made you sleepy. Later, they felt that lettuce would help to stimulate your appetite so they started serving it at the start of a meal, though they also felt it helped digestion, so they also might serve it at the end of a meal.

Lettuce was first brought to the Americas by Columbus but it didn't start to be planted as a regular crop until colonial times. Currently, lettuce is the third most consumed fresh vegetable in the U.S., behind tomatoes and potatoes, with the average American consuming about 25 pounds of lettuce each year. Lettuce can roughly be divided into two types, head (like iceberg) and leaf (like romaine), though some divide leaf types into a few different categories. Breaking down lettuce consumption, Americans generally consume about 14 pounds of head lettuce and 11 pounds of leaf lettuce each year, with leaf lettuce consumption having grown in recent years.

China produces the most lettuce in the world, about 56% of total production, while the U.S. occupies second place, with maybe 10% of total production. China consumes much of their own lettuce production and it is Spain which occupies the top place for lettuce exports, with the U.S. once again taking second place. The U.S. only export about 12% of their total production, with most of those exports headed to Canada, with smaller amounts to Taiwan and Mexico. Approximately 98% of the lettuce grown in the U.S. comes from California and Arizona, with California responsible for about 71% of all head lettuce production.

Lettuce production occurs on about 323,000 acres, using a significant number of resources, from land to water. It is also considered very labor-intensive, especially for harvest and packaging. On an acre of land in California, the average yield is about 12 tons for leaf lettuce and 20 tons for head lettuce. This year's drought has also caused serious agricultural issues in California, pointing up a vulnerability in the system.

However, there may be a way to counter some of the disadvantages of this land agriculture, to increase yields while still using less resources, including labor. Little Leaf Farms is leading the way in offering such a solution, with their own hydroponic, leafy greens farm contained within a three-acre greenhouse.

Hydroponics is basically a way to grow plants without the use of soil, using mineral nutrient solutions to feed the plants. Though this type of farming has been available for over 30 years in the U.S., it hasn't caught on much until recently, and it still is only a tiny percentage of total farming across the U.S. For example, it is estimated that next year, there will only be about 3500 acres of greenhouses in the U.S. Other countries, such as Holland, have been more amenable to hydroponic greenhouses, and looking to such countries can offer beneficial advice to farmers in the U.S. Paul Sellew, the founder and CEO of Little Leaf Farms, paid careful attention to the work in Holland.

Paul Sellew, who at six-foot eight-inches tall is someone most people need to look up to, grew up in Lebanon, Connecticut, working at Prides Corner Farms, which was started by his late father, Peter, and is currently operated by his brother, Mark. Paul graduated from Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York, with a degree in horticulture. Though it seemed farming was in his blood, Paul took a few years away from it to play professional basketball in Europe and South America. Upon his return to the U.S., he began his entrepreneurial career, starting with Earthgro, a composting business.

Since that time, he has founded a number of different companies from Harvest Power to Backyard Farms. You might be familiar with Backyard Farms, which is a greenhouse located in Maine which hydroponically grows tomatoes. Their tomatoes can be found in many local supermarkets and are also served at some local restaurants too. Paul's latest endeavor is Little Leaf Farms, which he hopes to do for lettuce what Backyard Farms did for tomatoes.

When I met Paul, and toured the greenhouse, I found him to be humble and passionate, engaging and intelligent. He was a down-to-earth person, lacking any pretension, and answered all of my questions without reservation. The greenhouse was thoroughly impressive and it is clear that this is a labor of love. The greenhouse has only recently started operations, having delivered its first shipments of leafy greens in July, and still needs work out a few kinks, but its potential is massive. In a world concerned with conserving natural resources, sustainability, climate change, and other such issues, Little Leaf Farms is a shining example of the potential for hydroponics.

To be continued....

Monday, August 29, 2016

Rant: You Don't Know Wine

To some, the results of the poll were disturbing and surprising. It seemed to run counter to what they thought, or at least felt. However, it's likely that the poll results would be similar in most, if not all, other countries and regions as well. In short, most people don't know much about wine.

The Guardian reported the results of a recent poll taken in France, asking people whether they considered themselves knowledgable about wine or not. France produces some of the best wines in the world, from Champagne to Bordeaux, and they have been doing so for many hundreds of years. You might think that because it seems to be such a vital cultural element of their country that its citizens would know plenty about wine. The reality is that is not the case.

In the poll, 71% of the respondents indicated they did not consider themselves knowledgeable about wine and 43% of that group said they knew nothing at all. Only 3% considered themselves to be "well versed" while the other 26% said they "knew enough."  So very few French people actually believe they know much about wine. That doesn't surprise me.

Plenty of French people may drink wine, though consumption has been declining in recent years, but most people don't sit around discussing terroir, fermentation techniques and barrel aging. They simply enjoy a glass or two of wine, usually with food. They don't give wine much consideration, just enjoying the styles of wine they like. It is only a tiny minority who actively seeks out to learn more about wine, to study grapes and production methods. It isn't necessary to learn much about wine to enjoy it, so many people don't see much of a need to learn all about wine.

That isn't any different from any other wine country or region. The majority of people in California aren't sitting around discussing and learning about wine either. Most people simply drink wine, without paying attention to the myriad of details behind its making. Again, it is only a small minority of people who want to learn more about wine. Like Spain, Italy, South Africa, Australia and any other wine region. It is really a niche subject.

It is probably the same with other beverages as well, such as most Germans don't know much about beer and most Japanese know little about Sake. People generally drink such beverages, or not, and most don't care to learn all about such drinks. They are content just to drink and enjoy.

Thus, France's poll about wine isn't really disturbing. It simply reflects reality and doesn't indicate a decline in wine interest. Most consumers have little reason to intently study wine, and there is nothing wrong with that.  

Friday, August 26, 2016

Georgian Toast: A Taste Of History

"What is called the traditional drinking cup or horn, kanzi, is conch-shaped and comes in different sizes, often decorated with silver. Because Georgians are famously hospitable people, an essential feature of the horn is that once filled with an appropriate libation, usually wine, it requires drinking to the bottom (bolomde) on each toast."
--Cuisines of the Caucasus Mountains: Recipes, Drinks, and Lore from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Russia by Kay Shaw Nelson

Back in 2008, when I first tasted a wine from the country of Georgia, a former Soviet republic which is located in the Caucasus region, they were a rarity in the Boston area. It is only in the last few years that Georgian wines have started becoming more readily available in the Boston area. At the last few Boston Wine Expos, a number of Georgian importers and producers have showcased their wines, and I've eagerly tasted these wines, enjoying the unique, indigenous grapes, as well as some of their traditional wine-making processes, such as the use of qvevri, earthenware vessels used for fermentation and aging.

In addition, Georgian wines present a taste of history as Georgia is often said to be the birthplace of wine, with archaeological evidence extending back approximately 8,000 years. Their use of qvevri also extends back to those earliest times, so modern producers using these earthenware vessels have a connection to the ancient past. As qvevri clearly affect the taste of the wine, it is actually like you are sampling a piece of history, and that is exciting.

Last week, I had the opportunity to sample some more Georgian wines, as a media guest, at an intriguing tasting event held at the Matter & Light Fine Art Gallery, located on Thayer Street in the South End. Thayer Street is lined with art galleries and Matter & Light is located on a lower level. It is a small gallery, displaying works from contemporary artists from all over the world. Much of the works are abstracts, though there are also some figure studies.


The art gallery made for an interesting venue for the wine tasting, a pairing of the beauty of the art with the aesthetics of the wine. The room was also large enough for the crowd that attended the tasting, and gave attendees something else to do, to admire the paintings, besides tasting the food and wines.


Proceeds from the event tickets benefited the Ballets Russes Arts Initiative, a non-profit, based in Boston, that promotes creative exchange in the fine and performing arts between the U.S. and the post-Soviet region. They host numerous events, promoting the arts, including films, concerts, dances, plays and more. If you're interested in the arts of the post-Soviet region, then you might like to check out this Initiative.

Numerous hors d'oeuvres were provided, catered by Bazaar International Gourmet, with stores located in Brookline and Allston. It is a specialty grocery store with a large selection of Russian and Eastern European foods. Some of the hors d'oeuvres were more traditional Georgian dishes, though they were not labeled so I'm not sure as to the identity of many of the dishes, though they were tasty, and went well with the wines.

The wines were supplied by Georgian Toast, a Massachusetts-based boutique importer focused exclusively on wines from Georgia. I previously encountered their wines at the last Boston Wine Expo and you can check out my prior review for background on Georgian wines, background on Georgian Toast, and reviews of a number of their wines. Above, holding a bottle of wine, is Kosta Middleman, one of the passionate members of Georgian Toast.

At this event, there were 12 wines available for tasting, from four different providers (Georgian Valleys, Jakeli, KTM, and Orgo), and included wines made from indigenous varieties such as Rkatsitelli, Mtsvane, Ojaleshi, and Saperavi and from specific regions including Kakheti, Khashmi, Lechkhumi, and Gurjaani. Some of the wines were fermented in qvevri while others were made with more modern wine-making practices. I'd previously tasted many of these wines, and retasted them again, finding them just as delicious and compelling as before, especially the 2012 Jakeli Wines Saperavi.

There were three wines which were new to me, and they all deserve some attention.

The 2014 Kakhetian Traditional Winemaking (KTW) Ia's Rosé is a semi-dry Rosé wine, with a 11.5% ABV, that is made from a blend of three grapes, Saperavi, Muscat and Mtsvane. The wine spends about 8-10 hours on the skins, giving it a bright pink color. It has a lovely aroma of red fruits and floral notes, and on the palate there are tasty flavors of strawberries and raspberries, with hints of rose petals, and a little tartness on the finish. It is crisp and easy drinking, perfect for the summer, though it is food friendly and you can easily drink it year round.

The next two wines were produced by the Orgo Winery, which Georgian Toast recently started distributing in Massachusetts. Orgo is a small, artisan winery located in the Kakheti AOC in eastern Georgia. This winery is a joint endeavor between Gogi Dikishivili, a famous Georgian wine maker, and his son Temur Dakishvili. As Gogi is a pioneer in the revival of the use of qvevri, Orgo uses these earthenware vessels for all of their wines. Many of the grapes they source are from old vines, aged 50-80 years, and few other wineries are able to source such grapes. When Georgia was part of the Soviet Union, many of the older vines, which notoriously are low yielding, were unfortunately torn up and replaced, with the intent of increasing production.

The 2014 Orgo Rkatsiteli (about $20) is made from 100% Rkatisteli, has a 12.5% ABV, and is fermented and aged in qvevri for about six months, with skin contact for that entire period. Referred to as an "amber" or "orange" wine, this wine is also made with wild yeasts and is unfiltered. It has a more unusual, yet intriguing, aroma, a melange of spice and fruit. On the palate, the spice notes dominate with more subtle undertones of citrus and peach and a touch of honey. It is fresh and crisp, complex and well-balanced. Kosta stated they don't don't usually chill this wine as it is so full-bodied.   This wine would pair well with a variety of foods, from seafood to chicken, cheese to charcuterie.  

The 2014 Orgo Saperavi ($20) is made from 100% Saperavi, has a 12.5% ABV, and is fermented and aged in qvevri. This wine is also made with wild yeasts, is unfiltered, and only 5,000 bottles were produced. It possesses an alluring aroma of lush black fruit, herbal notes and a touch of earthiness. On the palate, it is full bodied and lush, with mild tannins, and delicious flavors of ripe plum, lots of spice, herbal accents and an earthy undertone. Harmonious and complex, it possesses a lengthy, pleasing finish. This is a wine for meat, from sausages to lamb, burgers to steaks, or even a hearty Bolognese.

I highly recommend both of these Orgo wines, and they are an excellent introduction to Georgian qvevri wines. If your local wine shop doesn't carry Georgian wines, then ask them to check out the Georgian Toast portfolio.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Thursday Sips & Nibbles

I am back again with a new edition of Thursday Sips & Nibbles, my regular column where I highlight some interesting, upcoming food & drink events.
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1) On Wednesday, August 31,  at 6:30pm, Legal Sea Foods in Park Square will host a wine dinner with selections from Neyers Vineyards. Established in 1992 by Bruce and Barbara Neyers, the vineyard sits in the heart of Napa Valley and produces about 15,000 cases of wine annually. In 2002, Wine and Spirits Magazine named Neyers Vineyards the “Artisan Winery of the Year.”

Legal Sea Foods will team up with owner, Bruce Neyers, to host a four-plus-course dinner featuring cuisine paired with selections from the Neyers vine. The menu will be presented as follows:

HORS D’OEUVRES
Cod Fritter, Herb Aioli
Swordfish Kabob, Citrus Glaze
Striped Bass Mini Taco, Pickled Red Onion, Sweet Potato
Neyers “304” Chardonnay, Sonoma, 2015

FIRST COURSE
Cedar Plank Imperial Sole (bacon-wrapped red bliss potatoes, portobello mushrooms)
Neyers “Chuy’s Vineyard” Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, 2014
Neyers “El Novillero” Chardonnay, Carneros, 2013

SECOND COURSE
Mesquite Grilled Tuna Block (black currant-chipotle sauce, whipped Yukon gold potatoes, fried Tuscan kale)
Neyers “Left Bank Red,” Napa Valley, 2014
Neyers “ÂME” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2013

MAIN COURSE
Herb Crusted Pork Loin (sweet potato medallions, bourbon & sage molasses)
Neyers “Garys’ Vineyard” Syrah, Santa Lucia Highlands, 2014

CHEESE COURSE
Grafton Two Year Aged Cheddar
Smith’s One Year Aged Gouda
Spring Brook Farm Six Month Aged Tarentaise
(wild mushroom tapenade, brioche toast points, spicy almonds)
Neyers “Neyers Ranch – Conn Valley” Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley, 2012

COST: $95 per person (excludes tax & gratuity)
Reservation required by calling 617-530-9397

2) Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign and Boston’s culinary all-stars invite guests to join them for a delicious evening benefiting No Kid Hungry.

On Monday, October 17, Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign will bring together Boston’s best chefs for a very special evening featuring a cocktail reception, live auction, and a multi-course seated dinner intimately prepared tableside by the biggest names in the restaurant industry.

Participating chefs include: Karen Akunowicz of Myers & Chang; Jamie Bissonnette of Toro, Coppa, and Little Donkey; Joanne Chang of Flour Bakery and Myers & Chang; Dante DeMagistis of Restauant Dante; Louis DiBicarri of Tavern Road; Tiffany Fasion of Sweet Cheeks BBQ and Tiger Mama; Will Gilson of Puritan and Co.; Andy Husbands of Tremont 647, Sister Sorel, and The Smoke Shop; Matt Jennings of Townsman; Kevin Long of Empire; Colin Lynch of Bar Mezzana; Tony Maws of Craigie on Main and Kirkland Tap& Trotter; Rodney Murillo of Davio’s; Steve “Nookie” Postal of Commonwealth; Susan Regis of Shepard; Jason Santos of Abby Lane and Back Bay Harry’s; Michael Scelfo of Alden & Harlow and Waypoint; Michael Serpa of Select Oyster Bar; and Meghann Ward of Tapestry.

Tickets are tax-deductible and range in price from $1,000 for an individual ticket to $25,000 for a party of 20.

WHEN: Monday, October 17
Cocktail Reception: 6:00 p.m.
Multi-Course Seated Dinner: 7:00 p.m.

WHERE: Space 57 at the Revere Hotel, 200 Stuart Street, Boston

OTHER: Please visit http://ce.strength.org/events/boston-no-kid-hungry-dinner for more information and to purchase tickets.

3) Davis Square spot Saloon is celebrating the final month of summer with updated menus that reflect the season’s boldest flavors and the industry’s purest spirits. Executive chef Shayne Nunes’ revamped menu focuses on shareable cuisine to create delicious experience.

Newcomer hors d’oeuvres include White Truffle-Honey Popcorn ($4); Caramelized Mission Figs with chorizo, whipped gorgonzola and cider-honey glaze ($8); Grilled Angus Flat Iron with cornichons, watercress and truffle vinaigrette ($12); Poutine with hand-cut potato wedges, smoked cheddar and Applewood smoked bacon gravy; and, Maple Buffalo Wings with bleu cheese dressing ($12). Additionally, Saloon is shucking $1 local oysters every night from 5:00pm-7:00pm through Labor Day.

For bigger appetites, there is a trio of new entrees: Grilled Angus Ribeye with seared jumbo shrimp, toasted fingerlings, asparagus and a lemon cream sauce ($30); Hot Fried Chicken with a warm polenta cake, marinated cucumber salad and honey-basil yogurt ($19); and, Berkshire Pork Chop with grilled asparagus, honey grits and a peach-pepper relish ($23).

On the spirits side, the beverage team has debuted a menu with a dozen new bespoke cocktails that are available in addition to Saloon’s roster of 120 whiskey selections. Bourbon lovers can order up the Strong Hand with bourbon, Apple Jack, honey, lemon and allspice ($12) or the B-Laz with rosemary-infused bourbon, chai-spiced vermouth, raspberry, lemon and egg whites ($13). Gin enthusiasts might opt for the Grand Optimist with gin, Montenegro, ginger, lemon and Peychaud’s bitters ($11) or the Nighttime Sky with gin, Averna, Amaro Nonino, pineapple syrup, lime and Peychaud’s bitters ($12). Other highlights from the new menu include the What Makes a Man with tequila, Cocchi, yellow chartreuse, Fernet and basil ($13), the Step Side with Carpano Antico Sweet vermouth, Mandarine Napoléon, Fernet, lime and sugar ($14), Holy Mountain with sherry, rum, burnt cinnamon, pineapple, lime and bitters ($12) and Problem Solver with cognac, Cardamaro, Benedictine, Ancho Reyes and bitters ($13).