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The Modern Bar Cart Podcast

May 23, 2024

In this down-to-earth conversation with distiller and outdoorsman Tony Gugino of Eighth District Distilling Co., some of the topics we discuss include:

  • How Tony’s childhood exploring and fishing in Upstate New York inform the way he moves through the natural world and experiments with botanicals in his spirits.

  • The attributes and attentional faculties that separate experienced foragers from everybody else, and why foraging is less about memorizing plant names than it is about developing spatial awareness and being in open dialogue with the world around you.

  • Then we use Tony’s recent victory as a contestant on Moonshiners: Master Distiller as a case study for how to build a foraged spirit from the ground up, analyzing not just the ingredients he used, but how he braided them into a cohesive, symphonic product.

  • We also delve into foraging for bartenders, specifically: using seasonality and natural harvest cycles as a way to break out of the cloistered, “riff on a classic” approach that can place some bartenders in a creative rut.

  • But foraging isn’t just for distillers and bartenders--it’s for everyone, so we conclude by offering some advice for home bartenders who have the option to start experimenting with foraging at a truly intimate scale.

  • Along the way, we cover all the reasons why I was jealous of Tony when I first met him, how to make salt - yeah, you heard me…salt, the connection between Mulberries, Silk, and Connecticut’s textile industry, and much, much more.

Featured Cocktail: The Golden Ghost

This episodes’ featured cocktail is: The Golden Ghost. To make it, you’ll need:

  • ¾ oz Espadin Mezcal

  • ¾ oz Blanco Tequila

  • ¾ oz of clear Creme de cacao

  • ¾ oz genepy (which is a green alpine liqueur from France)

  • 1 dash of orange bitters

Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, stir until well chilled and properly diluted, then strain into a Nick & Nora glass, garnish with a flaming star anise pod, and enjoy.

The Golden Ghost is a Bijou riff minted by bartender Brian Evans of the bar Sunday in Brooklyn sometime around 2018. Instead of 1.5 oz of gin, you’ve got a split base of mezcal and tequila, which kinda tracks. Some of those mineral agave flavors can act like botanicals. The ¾ oz of creme de cacao nods to some of the deeper more confectionary notes that a good sweet vermouth will provide in the Bijou cocktail, with the genepy standing in for Chartreuse to tone down both the proof point and the pour cost.