Currant Bistro opened earlier this spring with the aspiration for hotel food to do more than just feed hungry travelers to the new Sound Hotel in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood. One of those ways the restaurant-bar is fulfilling this mission is with bar manager Cristina Buenaventura’s creative and ceaseless cocktail prowess. With her tenured background in Seattle bars (like Knee High Stocking Co. and the now-defunct Dexter Brewhouse), her dedication to local product is an added bonus and is seen all over the menu.
“The Pacific Northwest has so many amazing distilleries, spirits, teas and produce, why wouldn’t we want to rep them with all we’ve got?” Buenaventura says. “I want our cocktail program to be always evolving, both seasonally with our ingredients and spirits, and with our crafting methods. It should always be approachable and inviting for guests to ask questions and feel excited.”
One thing imbibers will always find on her menu at Currant is a shrub cocktail. “I love everything about them, likely from my Filipina roots where we use vinegar in everything,” she says. For this unique, garden-fresh cocktail, she digs into earthier tastes. “I’ve always wanted to play with beets in a cocktail, and they’re in season, so it seemed like the perfect timing.”
Using New Deal Distillery’s Garden Gin #1 also seemed like a no-brainer for the bartender. “Their products have such fresh and natural flavors,” she says. “The Garden Gin #1 is herbaceous and soft, which complement the earthiness of the beets.”
When Buenaventura isn’t mixing cocktails and shaking up the menu, you can find her nose in a book. “There is always something to learn in this industry,” she adds. “I’m constantly reading bar books and articles, buying weird tools for my home bar, creating tinctures and shrubs at home, and obviously imbibing at the other great local spots.”
Raise a glass, and a book, to this garden party sipper perfect for spring.
Makes 1 cocktail
1 ½ ounces New Deal Garden-Style Gin
¾ ounce Beet-Thyme Shrub (recipe follows)
2 dashes Scrappy’s Orange Bitters
2-3 ounces soda
Garnish: thyme sprig
In a mixing tin, combine, add ice, cap and shake. Strain into a rocks glass with fresh ice, top with soda and garnish with thyme sprig.
Beet Thyme Shrub
Yields about 2 cups
1 cup raw beets, shredded and softly packed
4 sprigs thyme
1 cup sugar
1 cup white wine vinegar
Toss the beets, thyme and sugar together and put in an air tight container to macerate for a minimum of 12 hours. Add the white wine vinegar and mix until sugar is dissolved. Strain out shredded beets and thyme leaves and store until ready to serve.