SPIRITS | Persimmon Raises the Bar with Romantic Allusions

Article excerpt

The fun thing about cocktails is there are so many fun things. There's the beauty of the drink in a glass, the flavors and sometimes, the inspiration.That's what I like most about the Valentine's cocktails shared by bartender Katie O'Donnell of Persimmon restaurant in Bristol. Aside from their beauty and taste, several of her drinks pay homage to romantic writings. O'Donnell is passionate about literature and earned her degree at Boston University in the subject. So when tapped to create cocktails for the holiday she sought a most appropriate theme."With Valentine's Day, I wanted to walk the fine line between sweet and romantic," she said.So she started with Shakespeare's Sonnet 130 which she called and ode to a real love. Its garnish is a grenadine heart sprayed through a homemade stencil. She explains the easy technique to bring this concept to the home bar.She named another drink the Fitzwilliam, for the rarely spoken first name of Mr. Darcy of Jane Austen's "Pride and Predjudice." That drink includes a homemade Earl Grey simple syrup easily made with tea bags."If you can make tea, you can make this simple syrup," she said.The romantic setting of a bed and breakfast led to a drink with grapefruit juice and a lovely rosemary garnish.Every cocktail lineup needs a low alcohol selection and O'Donnell created a spritz with Riesling, Aperol, an Italian apertif, and club soda.In blending those flavors, she debated what other flavor to add she wandered into the Persimmon kitchen to consult with chef-owner Champe Speidel. Collaboration is a bonus when you can work with a chef to say, "it's missing a zing.""He went into the fridge and came up with kaffir leaves," she said. "It was perfect."Finally, O'Donnell thought about how a "Champagne cocktail is the ultimate romantic drink." She chose to use Cava, the Spanish sparkling wine to make a winter sangria similar to one she enjoyed on a trip to Barcelona.Her hospitality career has included working on Martha's Vineyard and at Bacaro restaurant in Providence. She doesn't just make drinks and serve at Persimmon, by day she is also the proprietor of a gift shop in Warren, The Wooden Midshipman. The shop also stocks barware, blending her two jobs.O'Donnell was in the perfect mindset to create these Valentine's cocktails as she is a newlywed, married to a chef, Brian O'Donnell, who works at Providence's Cafe Nuovo. But it's doubtful the pair will enjoy a traditional holiday as Feb. 14 is one of the busiest days of the year at restaurants.Always drink responsibly.No. 130 1 egg white (or 1 tablespoon pasteurized egg whites) 11/2 ounce rye whisky 1/2 ounce Byrrh liqueur 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice Laphroaig or other smoky scotch whisky Rinse the coupe glass with the scotch and discard. …