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Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011

11th Annual Kohler Food & Wine Experience

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For Lynn House, making a drink is something she takes very seriously. So seriously that she is renowned for her delicious sounding (and tasting) concoctions, having won numerous national industry awards over the past seven years as a mixologist.

House will prepare a number of her original creations as featured mixologist at the Kohler Food & Wine Experience Oct. 20-23 in Kohler, Wis. House works at Blackbird restaurant in Chicago's west loop and writes a monthly beverage blog for Plate Magazine
. She'll be updating classic cocktails and showcasing original seasonal drinks at a pair of workshops this Saturday.

"Both sessions focus on what I call 'garden to glass,'" says House, speaking by phone from her backyard while harvesting apples. She practices what she preaches and teaches about "sourcing local ingredients" as her own apple harvest will be used at Blackbird. "It's cost effective and supports the community," she adds.


She'll be doing the same when she comes to Kohler.  "We're showing people how to use what's simple, what's at the farmer's market or in their own backyard," she says.


Local ingredients and liquors will be used in concoctions like her Smashing Pumpkins (yes, named after the band from Chicago), which combines fresh pumpkin puree (canned also works) spiced rum, heavy cream (half and half) and her own update on a typical bar staple, simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water). She adds cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg to give it that autumnal taste.


"It's basically replacing eggnog as a traditional seasonal drink," she explains. And to further update the holiday season, she turns a traditional side dish of cranberry sauce into its own innovative invention. "Wisconsin grows a lot of cranberries and most people think of cosmopolitan when they hear cranberry," House says. So, she creates a compote of out fresh Wisconsin cranberries as a base, then adds gin (she'll be sourcing locally with Death's Door gin produced on Washington Island), fresh citrus and orange marmalade. This one's called The Cranberries (after the Irish band).


Most people familiar with the classic Daiquiri think rum, simple syrup and fresh lime. But House updates hers into an "Autumn Daiquiri" using spiced rum as well as that spiced simple syrup. She adds in local apple jelly ("People are sick of the green apple martinis," she points out). Her "Rite of Autumn" (a play on Stravinsky's Rite of Spring
) features more of that spiced syrup and apple juice made from, what else" locally sourced apples. Add in cognac, fresh rosemary and fresh lemon and raking leaves looks a whole easier and more fun.

And fun really is a key ingredient to House's mixology. While many people view making cocktails—classic or contemporary—as challenging, House stresses that it can really be easy and enjoyable, a goal of both her upcoming sessions.


"First and foremost have fun with it," House insists. Get creative, keep it simple and work with fresh and seasonal ingredients as much as possible."


The 11th Annual Kohler Food & Wine Experience
runs Oct. 20-23 in Kohler, Wis. For more information, call 1-800-344-2838 or visit www.kohlerfoodandwine.net or www.destinationkohler.com

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