Tara Heffernon is the epitome of farm-to-bar cocktail crafts(wo)manship. She highlights the true essence of spirits while transforming them with her homegrown garnishes, house made tinctures and infusions. A long time co-collaborator with Spoonbar’s talented bar manager, Cappy Sorentino who’s off to LA,- she’s at the helm now and we can’t wait to see what Tara has up her sleeve!
What makes Tara the perfect candidate to lead such a talented team? She’s combined her love of art, botany and bar to create an unforgettable cocktail experience. A member of Spoonbar’s opening team, Heffernon’s Healdsburg roots run deep. Raised in nearby Forestville, she brings to her new role a solid local perspective and a strong background in the hospitality industry. She was recruited to join the opening bar team at Spoonbar in 2010, and she has remained here ever since. Heffernon credits Sorentino and their “reckless yet successful experimentation” at Spoonbar for helping her develop her bartending and mixology expertise.
In the future, Heffernon is looking to develop more community-focused events highlighting the principles of the “farm-to-bar” movement, and providing instructions and tips on how to care for and utilize specific herbs in cocktails. She also plans to continue Spoonbar’s movement away from purchasing outside ingredients, instead focusing on making bitters, tinctures and infusions in-house. A ‘whole lotta love’ goes into Tara’s cocktails. From a simple seed – to one killer cocktail.
A member of Spoonbar’s opening team, Heffernon’s Healdsburg roots run deep. Raised in nearby Forestville, she brings to her new role a solid local perspective as well as a strong background in the hospitality industry. Heffernon got her start in 1999 bussing and serving at Topolos Greek Restaurant and Winery in Forestville and later moved to Chalk Hill Winery in Healdsburg, working as a server and in the events management department. She briefly moved to Florida to assist friends with a Wine Warehouse franchise, serving as a tasting instructor, and later worked at Spanish River Grill, a standout restaurant in New Smyrna, Florida. In 2007, she returned to Northern California and began working at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen, the signature restaurant at Hotel Healdsburg. She was recruited to join the opening bar team at Spoonbar restaurant in 2010, and she has remained there ever since.
Working with then Bar Director Scott Beattie and Sorentino, it was at Spoonbar that Heffernon discovered her passion for cocktails. A lifelong artist, she discovered in creating craft cocktails the ideal outlet to bring together her love of art, botany, and hospitality. Heffernon credits Sorentino and the “reckless yet successful experimentation” at Spoonbar for helping her develop her bartending and mixology expertise.
As bar director, Heffernon looks forward promoting a continued focus on locally-grow ingredients and to enhancing the artfulness of all of Spoonbar’s drinks. An avid gardener, Heffernon grows an assortment of herbs, fruits, vegetables and flowers in her home garden that she taps to create the unique flavors of Spoonbar’s cocktail program. Heffernon credits Tony Conigliaro, a British cocktail master and author of “The Cocktail Lab,” as her top inspiration in the field. Conigliaro’s style is grounded in the classics but utilizes technologies and techniques from the molecular gastronomy movement. Like Heffernon, Conigliaro discovered a creative outlet in drink making while putting himself through art school, and approaches cocktail making with a similar philosophy.
In the future, Heffernon is looking to develop more community-focused events highlighting the principles of the “farm-to-bar” movement, and providing instructions and tips on how to care for and utilize specific herbs in cocktails. She also plans to continue Spoonbar’s movement away from purchasing outside ingredients, instead focusing on making bitters, tinctures and infusions in-house.
There was breaking of bread, pouring of wine, and indulging in local farm fare. The Spoonbar Harvest Feast was truly a gathering of community. Chef Louis sourced ingredients from local winery farms, which were then paired with the farms’ wines. A great deal of love went into every aspect of this meal!
Chef Louis began the evening breaking (well, slicing) bread, made with Bolero Wheat sourced from the fields of Front Porch Farm.
The scene outside the kitchen was buzzing, with guests interacting with our guest winemakers.
Here are just some of the wine that were poured for pairing.
Chef Louis and team continued to work steadily in the back, preparing for each approaching course.
The Harvest Feast dishes were as full of color as they were flavor.
After the feast, guest winemakers gave their thoughts on the importance of the local wine, farm, and restaurant integration. In order of appearance: Sam Bilbro @ Idlewild, Virginia Marie Lambrix @ VML, Matt Norelli @ Preston Vineyards, Matthew Taylor @ Front Porch
Despite the copious dinner, guests still made room for the Creme Caramel and Brie baked in a puff pastry.
The photo below sums up what made Harvest Feast so special… Winemaker and guest in conversation over local wine and fare, surrounded by community.
A huge THANK YOU to the winemakers and Chef Louis Maldonado!
We have a talented team of women behind the bar, oven and stove making our Spoonbar purr…
Meet Spoonbar Sous Chef, Meghan Clark! It’s of no surprise that her creations have blossomed at Spoonbar. Those who savor them refer to the dishes as light, flavorful, unique and exciting. For Meghan, cooking has acted as a nostalgic career path, having grown up around kitchens. It’s very apparent this comes naturally to her. Since she has started cooking seriously at 17, she’s been on a steady rise in the culinary world. Meghan is proof that the most valuable education is that of raw experience and passion. Without having attended culinary school, she’s gotten this far on her own wit and talent. After working with Chef Louis Maldonado at aziza in San Francisco, she came to Healdsburg to craft innovative fare for those visiting Spoonbar. Meghan’s specialty is raw fish and gravitates towards incorporating flavor combinations that aren’t overwhelmingly heavy. Her creations offer a new savory experience that leaves your palate happily intrigued.
Meet Tara Heffernon, one of the bartenders at Spoonbar! As if being a master of her craft behind the bar wasn’t enough, Tara is responsible for the unique garnishes you’ll find atop your cocktail. Even cooler…all of the Spoonbar cocktail garnishes are EDIBLE! After dedicated research, Tara has sown a beautiful garden at her home in Forestville, CA. Mindful in her practice, she grows organically and sustainably. Tara plays an essential role in Spoonbar’s fresh ‘farm-to-bar’ concept. Her earthly essence can be felt through her presence and her product! So, next time your in Spoonbar, you can thank Tara for her year round work in supplying spirited cocktails, fresh ingredients, and eye catching garnish.
Meet Annemarie Catrambone, the pastry chef at Spoonbar. Catrambone began her culinary career at California Culinary Academy after deciding to embrace her passion for baking. Graduating with honors, Catrambone immediately began working at the world-renowned French Laundry where she advanced her skills from the direction of executive chef and owner Thomas Keller. Following a short maternity leave, Catrambone returned to the culinary scene working in pastry at Dry Creek Kitchen. Recognized for her talent, Chef Louis Maldonado enlisted Catrambone to work with him to create innovative flavor focused desserts to complement his menu when he came on board in early 2012. With Catrambone’s pastry and dessert skills, and Maldonado’s signature global influences, the duo has created a unique dessert program for Spoonbar’s menu such as Kyushu mandarin ice, pecan shortbread, buttermilk bavorois, honey or the Valrhona chocolate cremeux, hazelnuts, banana, smoked meringue cookie.
The shrubs that are all the rage these days are beverages composed of vinegar, sugar, and fruits or vegetables. Sounds tame, but the shrub has quite a sordid history. In the 1680s, European smugglers got into the habit of filling barrels of spirits with fruits and vinegar and throwing them overboard to avoid import taxation.
We don’t need to hide our spirits any more, but shrubs are a drink worth keeping! The true magic of a shrub is that the sugar naturally extracts the juices from the fruit or vegetable. Vinegar rounds out the process by preserving the sweetness; shrubs keep in the fridge for weeks!
Here is Cappy’s recipe for the Jalapeno Shrub (use it to make his Burning Shrub cocktail, too!) Look at this recipe as a template and then experiment with your own!
How to Make Your Own Jalapeno Shrub
What you’ll need:
Blender, Strainer and Whisk
Equal parts Jalapeño, Sugar, and Vinegar
Halve the jalapeños (it’s definitely a good idea to wear gloves, since you’ll likely have A LOT of peppers, and it sucks to accidently rub your eyes) and blend on high for 10 seconds.
Mix the blended jalapeno with sugar and refrigerate for 3 hours to 3 days. The sugar will naturally pull the juices out from the jalapeno; the longer you let it sit, the more juice will be extracted.
Pour vinegar into the container and stir briskly with your whisk. The goal is to make sure the fruit, sugar, and vinegar are thoroughly mixed.
Strain the mixture into an empty container (discard the solids) and you’ve got your shrub! You can use your shrub right away, or wait a few hours to let the vinegar mellow out a bit.
Come in and check out our Super Secret Shrub Menu… or make your own Burning Shrub cocktail at home! Here’s the recipe from Cappy:
1 1/2 oz Frida Blanco Tequila
1/4 oz Mezcal
1/4 oz Jalapeno Shrub
1/3 oz Agave Nectar
3/4 oz Lime juice
1/4 oz Grapefruit juice
Combine all ingredients, shake until chilled and mixed, strain over fresh ice and enjoy!
What do you get when you pair incredible wines and cocktails with a menu inspired by (and sourced from) the garden, all set against drop-dead gorgeous backdrop? We’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
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Bar Manager, Cappy Sorentino, kicked off the evening with two cocktails … the The Barley Bitter and The Monk.
Everything from the canapes (soft shell prawns and summer tomato tarts) to the corn pudding featured ingredients straight out of the summer garden.
Chef Louis Maldonado putting the finishing touches on the corn pudding. Look at that attention to detail …
Chef Ben Davis of Spoonbar’s sister restaurant, Pizzando, mans the grill.
Chef Louis stoked the wood burning oven. It was one seriously hot fire … and the guests enjoyed front row seats on the action.
And, of course, the Medlock Ames crew did a stellar job pairing their wines with each dish.
A sun-kissed evening with fabulous wine, creative concoctions inspired by the garden, and a congeniality that glowed well past dusk. You just can’t beat that …
Yes, it’s hammy. But more importantly, it’s a little sad.
h2 and spoonbar are two brands I back and believe in, and since the day our doors opened, I’ve loved carving content for both the blog and facespace. I’ve relished the chance to champion a company and community I love so dearly. It has been an honor, absolutely. But alas, it’s time to throw my heart and soul into another project. And I’m happy to report that I’m diving headfirst into RISE OF THE SUFFERFESTS, a feature documentary about the obstacle race industry.
Yes, it may seem strange, but if you check out my bio, you’ll see this probably what I should be doing.
But don’t worry! I’m leaving you in excellent hands!
Meet SAM BOISS, our (lovely) new social media manager.
Here’s what she has to say for herself.
“I’m studying writing at UC Berkeley. With a B.A in Psychology and Philosophy, I originally moved to Northern California to pursue a Masters degree in Counseling. After being exposed to a culmination of kind people and beautiful landscape, my passion for writing and exploration really ignited. Thus, I decided to change direction and seek out channels that would lead to a career in writing.
My passion for photography has also paired well with this pursuit. As a somewhat recent Massachusetts transplant, I’m still soaking in Sonoma County’s bounty. I’m an avid lover of live music and can never turn down an opportunity to enjoy good food and drink. Admittedly, I’ve been struck with wanderlust for the past several years and travel at any chance I get.
If I have a few days off, I’m packing a bag, bringing along my dog Max, and embracing the open road. Luckily, I don’t always have to travel far to find treasures. I’m truly looking forward to sharing Spoonbar – as well as the Healdsburg community – with others. Shining a light on creative cocktails, innovative cooking, noteworthy events, and all around good energy from both staff and guests, doesn’t seem much like a ‘job’ at all.”
SEE? She’s kind of perfect, right?
And perhaps the best part is she’s also one of Spoonbar’s best and most enthusiastic servers. Sam has her finger on the pulse. And given the writing classes she’s currently taking at UC Berkeley, you can expect top notch content.
Yes, I’m a little sad to let this gig go. But I’m excited to pass this proverbial baton to someone with so much heart and talent.
Last weekend, while the Pigs & Pinot Gala Dinner was unfolding at the Dry Creek Kitchen, we hosted our own celebration, “Swine & Wine.” It was a casual four-course dinner prepared by our Chef Louis, in partnership with some of the Bay Areaâ€™s most innovative chefs: David Bazirgan of Fifth Floor, John Paul Carmona, formerly of Manresa, and Evan Rich of the James Beard Award-nominated Rich Table. The dinner was paired with wines from two acclaimed Sonoma County Pinot Noir producers, Cobb Wines & VML Winery.
Here’s some pics from the event, starting with THE CHEFS…
L-R: Chefs Evan Rich, JP Carmona, Louis Maldonado and David Barzigan
As you can see, it was a glorious evening.
Spring was in full force this weekend, our doors were open
To kick things off, guests were treated to their choice of Cappy’s original COCKTAILS…
How to choose?!
Cappy in action!
And then there was THE FOOD, of course.
Chefs Baz and Louis styling in the kitchen
Chef JP Carmona got things started with this…
Early spring vegetables with warmed headcheese and kale pistou
Chef Evan Rich added this…
White Asparagus, sorrel and pork belly
Chef David Barzigan prepared this…
Green garlic custard, confit of black trumpets, charred ramp broth, morcilla, pork leg presse
And our Chef Louis served this…
Sunchoke and rice porridge glazed with black truffle, brassica and wild onion shoots, crispy pork shoulder
Amazing food indeed!
Chef Baz addressing the crowd
Of course, there were also incredible WINES. The dishes were exquisitely paired with two Russian River Valley Pinots from VML’s 2010 vintage: Ivywood Vineyard and Winemaker’s Select, Russian River Valley. As well as two Sonoma Coast Pinots from Cobb’s 2009 vintage: Emmaline Ann Vineyard and Rice-Spivak Vineyard.
An extraordinary Pinot. (It was paired with Chef JP Carmona's dish.)
Virginia Lambrix winemaker at VML shares stories of her favorite vineyards with the crowd
It was a magical night. Fantastic food, wine, cocktails and company. What more could you ask for?
We’re looking forward to next year.
Special thanks to Craig Clement for all the great pics!
And given the response so far, it’s seems like a pretty good one.
Introducing FORKS & CORKS: a collaborative culinary experience. The new dining series features Chef Louis in partnership with some of the Bay Area’s very best chefs and wine experts. Pros whom he knows and respects and always wanted to work with. In short, the all star chefs tag team on a themed six-course meal, interacting with guests in our intimate Green Room.
At last month’s dinner, the first in the series, the theme was “Local Meets Global,” for which we welcomed Michelin-starred chefÂ James Syhabout (Oaklandâ€™s Commis and Hawker Fare). The sold out event saw Syhabout and Maldonado teaming up on dishes that featured local ingredients in a global menu that included sea urchin and crab in a coconut bath, Guinea hen with green curry aromatics, and Parsnip milk tapioca with mandarins. Intercontinental wine pairings for the evening were selected by superstar guest sommelier Mark Bright of Michelin-starred Saison.
This time around, we’ve invited Chef Brett Cooper of Outerlands in San Francisco. Cooper, 31, was named a 2012 Rising Star Chef by the SF Chronicle, joining the rarified ranks of luminaries like Michael Minna, Douglas Keane, and our very own Chef Louis (’09). Cooper’s intimate Outer Sunset restaurant has claimed cult status and rave reviews like this new one by Michael Bauer. Last year it was named one of the Bay Area’s Top 100 Restaurants.
Chef Louis is excited to have him up. “My goal with these dinners is to work with talents who have solid visions in the kitchen. And Brett definitely has that. His restaurant is out at Ocean Beach and he’s taking coastal cuisine to a new level. He has a lot of connections to local fishermen and foragers and is sourcing amazing ingredients and using them in original ways. The guy gets the best seaweed.”
Since our theme for the next event is “Where Land Meets Sea,” we’re obviously very psyched to have Cooper on team FORKS.
We’re just as excited about the CORKS part, too, as it will be covered by Kevin Wardell of Healdsburg’s raddest wine bar, BERGAMOT ALLEY.
Ever been? We have. Lots of times.
Not just because they serve crazy good wines from afar. (Mostly Mediterranean.)
Or because the space looks like this…
And not just because they host super fun dance parties, classic movie nights, Backgammon tournaments, love letter writing evenings and such.
But because owner Kevin Wardell is one of the coolest, most down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet.
He’s a beloved local character who moonlights as a percussionist. (He’s been known to sit in and play congas along the DJs at his dance parties. And he has the kind of hand speed that’ll might make Carlos Santana smile.)
Most importantly, he knows a hell of a lot about wine. So he’s the perfect guest sommelier for this next event.
Call Spoonbar now to reserve your seat. But hurry, because all of these dinners will sell out. 707-433-7222.
For more information on the dinner series and upcoming events, menus, etc, follow this link.
We’re all too happy to announce that we’ve been recognized as a “Trendsetter” by the fine people behind the 2012 Fodor’s 100 Hotel Awards. The Fodorâ€™s staff narrowed down a list of more than 4,000 nominations and selected hotels representing the yearâ€™s global travel trends. And thanks in part to our commitment to the environment and LEED Gold certification, we’re one of a handful of “hotels that are changing the hospitality landscape.”
“The picturesque town of Healdsburg might as well have been plucked straight from a movie setâ€”and the recent arrival of this modern, eco-forward boutique hotel hasn’t hurt the curb appeal either. The green factor here is loud and clear, and the ways the hotel has implemented it are unique: a living roof awash with succulent plants, rooms layered with bamboo floors and organic linens, and a spa featuring treatments with biodynamic ingredients like lemon-verbena body milk supplied by a nearby botanical company. The on-site restaurant, Spoonbar, lures locals with cocktails like the “Sleeping Beauty,” garnished with fresh bergamot and rosemary.”
And here’s a clip from CBS This Morning about the Awards. (We’re spotlighted at the 3:00 mark.)