Barrel-Aged Gin, a Roving Bartender, and a New Williams-Sonoma in Sonoma

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Spirit Works Distillery in Sebastopol recently released a barrel-aged gin. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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Christopher Long is the roving bartender of Libations Unlimited in Wine Country. Photo courtesy of Christopher Long.

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Chuck Williams in 1956. A Williams-Sonoma store will open in Sonoma this weekend. Photo courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.

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El Barrio opens in Guerneville. Image courtesy of El Barrio.

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Chef Jamil Peden will leave Woodfour Brewing, but remain part of the Monday ramen pop-up. Photo courtesy of Heather Irwin.

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Bonnie Lynn Tempesta. Photo courtesy of Boncora Biscotti.

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The new KSRO food lineup includes (from left) Steve Garner, chef John Ash, Marcy Smothers, and Clark Wolf. Photo courtesy of Marcy Smothers.

By 707 correspondent Heather Irwin. Sign up for the BiteClub Newsletter.

On a recent tour of ~SPIRIT WORKS DISTILLERY~, BiteClub fell a little bit in love. Partly with owners Timo and Ashby Marshall’s Boston terrier, Bandit, but mostly with their newly released barrel-aged gin.

Made from red winter wheat, the gin is aged in new white oak, imparting a rich amber hue and giving it a more intense, toasty flavor, with lots of vanilla, butterscotch, cardamom, and orange. It’s a perfect winter sipper. Try it mixed with a little eggnog or straight-up by the fire.

Want to see the distillery for yourself? Guided tours are available Fri-Sun for $15 per person; reservations required. While you’re there, pick up a bottle of their vodka, rye whiskey, or sloe gin (a specialty of Timo’s family for generations), which are also available at local BevMos and specialty retailers. 6790 McKinley St #100, Sebastopol, 707-634-4793.

Guerneville’s food and drink renaissance continues with the recently opened ~EL BARRIO~ cocktail lounge. It’s the next in a series of food and drink projects by Crista Luedtke, who also owns Big Bottom Market, Boon Eat + Drink, and Boon Hotel + Spa.

The “Mexican modern cocktail lounge” will focus on spirits—bourbon, tequila, and mezcal—rather than food, with a robust drink program developed by SF bartender and consultant Christina Cabrera (Novela, Range, Marlow, Michael Mina). Luedtke says the name, which translates as “the neighborhood” is also a play on words bar and rio (“river”), or “river bar.”

The lounge replaces Whitetail Wine Bar, and the revamped interior includes custom-made Talavera tile and a graffiti wall installation by the Apexer, a SF-based artist. 16230 Main St., Guerneville.

It doesn’t get much cooler than this, cocktailians. From his vintage-style teardrop trailer, bartender Christopher Long (Spoonbar, Campo Fina) roams Napa and Sonoma serving up artisan cocktails (aka liquid alchemy) at outdoor dinners, weddings, and other Wine Country gatherings. Libations Unlimited offers bespoke drinks for each event, including kegged cocktails, a beer tap, and his customized espresso machine. So much classier than your brother pouring too warm wine, that’s for sure. You can hire Long (yes, he has a beard and wears a vest like any good bartender) for your event at libationsunlimited.com or by calling 707-328-2132.

Brawl of the bartenders at the Sonoma Bar Battle: Are there ever losers in a cocktail competition? Especially when the audience gets to be the judges? On Saturday October 11th, 14 local bars and restaurants will battle for the ultimate cocktail concoction. Did we mention that Charbay Artisan Distillery is the proud vodka provider and that Gloria Ferrer is hosting the sparkling wine cocktail contest? Tickets are $35 online and $40 at the door. Dancing, food, and a photo booth to document the merriment are included. All proceeds go to charity. Sonoma Veterans Building, 126 First St., Sonoma.

Former North Bay chef Matthew Bousquet has turned up at SF’s ~PER DIEM~. His Windsor restaurant, Mirepoix, which earned a Michelin star, closed in 2011, leaving a hole in the Sonoma County restaurant scene. We’re happy to hear he’s landed in a new gig focused on seasonally inspired dishes (though they lean more toward Italian than Bousquet’s well-known French cuisine). Santé!

In Napa, the owners of ~CA’ MOMI ENOTECA~ plan to open a second restaurant in downtown Napa. The menu is still under wraps, but expect their Oxbow Market enoteca (610 1st St., Suite 9, Napa) to continue focusing on authentic, to-die-for Neapolitan pizzas and pastries. The Oxbow location is one of the few pizzerias in the United States that’s certified by the authoritative Vera Pizza Napoletana association in Italy. Seating is limited at Oxbow, so we’re hoping to see even more “slow food” entrees (beef tongue, oxtail, and “obsessively Italian” pastas) in the larger restaurant space. 1141 First St., Napa.

After several years of planning, permitting, and building, the kitchen outfitter Williams-Sonoma is returning to its Sonoma roots. In celebration of founder Chuck Williams’s 99th birthday, the store will (re)open on Saturday October 4th (that’s tomorrow) at its original Sonoma Square location; there will also be a cooking school and culinary museum. The landmark store opened in 1956, when a prescient Williams decided Americans might appreciate European-quality cookware. Just a few years later, Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking kindled a firestorm of interest in high-end copper pots, pans, and knives. Sonoma County hasn’t had a Williams-Sonoma store since Williams moved his operation to San Francisco in the late 1950s. 605 Broadway, Sonoma.

Saturdays get even tastier on local news station KSRO (1350 AM, 103.5 FM) with the debut of At the Table with Wolf & Smothers on Saturday October 4th. Wine Country food fanatics Clark Wolf and Marcy Smothers will dish each week on food news and personalities with guests such as Ruth Reichl, Emeril Lagasse, Bruce Aidells, Martin Yan, and Douglas Keane. The dynamic duo’s first show airs live from the Sonoma County Fairgrounds during the Harvest Fair this Saturday from 1pm-3pm. KSRO’s Saturday lineup also includes The Good Food Hour with John Ash and Steve Garner from 11am-noon and On the Wine Road with Jeff Davis from noon-1pm. Delicious!

The food world lost a gourmet pioneer this week. Bonnie Lynn Tempesta, credited with introducing biscotti to the American food scene in the 1980s, died on September 25th at her Sonoma home. After founding La Tempesta Bakery Confections in the Bay Area in 1982, she became the largest biscotti producer in America, selling to Neiman Marcus, Starbucks, Macy’s, and Dean & DeLuca. The entrepreneur sold her business in 1997, devoting her life to art, animals, and a program for disadvantaged youth. In 2012, she started a small philanthropic bakery in Kenwood named Boncora Biscotti, donating a portion of every sale to her favorite cause, Pets Lifeline of Sonoma Valley.

Moving on from Sebastopol’s popular ~WOODFOUR BREWING~ is Jamil Peden. The creative chef, whose résumé includes Petite Syrah and Healdsburg’s Campo Fina, says he doesn’t yet have any plans, but welcomes the change. You’ll still find him at Woodfour’s ramen pop-up, Ramen Gaijin, on Mondays. There are some whispers about the new chef, who we hear is coming from a highly respected Marin restaurant, but no official word yet.

A hearty hello to the forthcoming ~YETI RESTAURANT~, slated to open in the former Lyon’s location in Santa Rosa, near the intersection of Farmers Lane and Highway 12. Yeti has been a popular Himalayan/Indian restaurant in Kenwood for several years, offering some of the best naan BiteClub’s ever had. More details on when they’ll arrive soon.