We were first introduced to the delicious Evergreen Collins with Mountain Valley sparkling water by Artem Grishin, Beverage Director at Deer Mountain Inn. When it comes to finding tasty ingredient innovations, Artem is a pro and a fan of Mountain Valley sparkling water. “We love the water and I use it for all of the Collins cocktails. It’s the perfect amount of carbonation.”
That naturally delicate carbonation complements other flavours without overpowering them, making Mountain Valley sparkling water a go-to choice for a variety of drink mixes. And like much of the food and drinks served at the Deer Mountain Inn, Mountain Valley sparkling water is sourced locally. Each drop springs naturally from deep within the earth, delivering fresh taste and natural American goodness to every cocktail. In fact, the Deer Mountain Inn and Mountain Valley have a lot in common, as Artem explains below.
What inspired the recipe for the Evergreen Collins?
Chef Ryan Tate and I were talking about our Evergreen Collins cocktail and what's around us. That kind of sparked my interest. I’ve always used this one spruce, right in front of the Inn. You get a really consistent taste from it, and we thought, “why don't we just keep it going for the whole year?"
The cool thing is that we found the taste changes with the seasons, especially in the summertime. Everything is plusher. It gets a lot more sun, a lot more nutrients. So it's definitely juicier. You can kind of squeeze it and you can feel all the moisture in it. And eventually, that dries up in the fall, so you get a little less fruit. It's very subtle in the summer, but in the winter it just becomes more woodsy and heartier.
What we do is take the spruce and infuse it in the gin. It takes about three to four days, maybe five days. We do it to taste, because you've got to be careful—it can very easily taste like Pine-Sol. It's got to have this light pine taste that's refreshing and doesn't remind you of cleaning products.
Through multiple iterations we found putting it in a pressure cooker and doing it the slow way definitely worked out a lot better. That's our base. Then we take the same pine from the same spruce, and we make a simple syrup out of it. We heat it to create regular sugar water, and we bring it to a near boil. You want a little extra heat because it helps extract multiple tannins, since I put the branch in, not just the smaller spruce tips, which adds more character to the cocktail. And then we combine it with Zirbenz, an Austrian pine liqueur. It's really strong, so we use just a little bit and some lemon juice and then we shake it. Super simple. Top it off with Mountain Valley sparkling water, and a beautiful little piece of spruce to garnish. I like to make the garnish almost as big as the straw, so it's kind of in your way, to remind you of the place where you are. It just really comes alive.
The color of the cocktail alone is beautiful. It's a light pink that mainly comes from the Zirbenz, which is a dark red liqueur. Once you dilute it, it turns into this lovely pink color—it looks like a rosé cocktail.
We spend a lot of money a month on our gardening bill, so it's a really expensive cocktail when it comes down to it!
The Deer Mountain Inn Evergreen Cocktail x Mountain Valley Recipe for Home
For people at home, it can be simplified. There's a reason why people come to restaurants, right? To have things that they can't make at home. But I think the recipe, even just the syrup and garnish, would be great for a home cocktail. People are intimidated by infusions, but you're just taking booze and putting something in there, and the alcohol will extract it. It's a great solvent. So, just take pine, throw it in gin, let it sit and then taste it after two to three days. And taste it every day after. When you get the level of pine you want, strain it, and that's it. You can do whatever you want with it.
Evergreen Collins x Mountain Valley Recipe
● Fresh spruce twigs, 25 sprigs per liter at about 4 inches in length. Infuse in gin for 7-10 days or when preferred intensity of flavor is reached.
● Add, shake, and strain into a Collins glass:
2 oz of spruce gin
0.75 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
0.5 oz simple syrup
0.5 oz Zirbenz pine liqueur
Top with Mountain Valley sparkling water and garnish with spruce twig.
What does Mountain Valley bring to the table?
You can actually notice the subtleties versus the intense carbonic acid that's happening with other sparkling waters that just blow up your palette. Mountain Valley has softer effervescence, there are more subtle flavors, and I think the flavors are delivered much better. I feel like club soda masks things, versus Mountain Valley, which can actually let things open up and work with the flavors. There's also some minerality coming from the water, which aids in everything. It makes a difference, for sure.
Making a difference in homegrown, locally-sourced food and drink is the Mountain Valley sparkling water way. If you’re heading to the Deer Mountain Inn, please share photos and comments with us on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. And if you’d like to become one of the top American restaurants serving premium Mountain Valley Spring Water in your establishment, click here.