The Bard of the Bar

Garrett McCord, the Sacramento food blogger and author of a cookbook devoted to the glories of macaroni and cheese, has turned his focus to something new: craft cocktails. McCord started his blog, Coupe de Grâce, last year to give himself a fresh writing outlet after 10 years of musing about food and life at Vanilla Garlic. We caught up with him recently to talk cocktails, local talent and whether there’s another cookbook in his future.

So why a new blog?
I hit a point where I wanted a space where I could speak more openly and write for fun. I wrote my old blog for in case my mother ever had to read it, whereas Coupe de G râce I write with the intention of never letting her know it exists. On Vanilla Garlic, for example, I wouldn’t swear unless I was quoting someone directly. H ere, I don’t care. It is for me, and if other people want to follow along, that’s neat, too.

You keep a light, humorous tone on the blog. Do you find some people take cocktails too seriously?
There’s always the danger of taking something so seriously that you suck all the joy out of it. L uckily, I’ve met quite a few bartenders who can dive deep into a subject but still keep it light enough so that it’s fun.

Do you have a favorite spirit you like to drink?
I’m very seasonal. I am actually into gin in the spring and mescal in the summer. When it gets colder, I like to switch to the brown spirits. Lately I have been playing with L ambrusco, trying to figure out how to incorporate it into cocktails.

Tell me about a recipe experiment that failed.
I have trouble working with mescal because it can be so naturally smoky. Same with cachaca; it can be rough. Those spirits can be so strong in flavor that they can destroy everything else.

Besides spirits, what are some of your favorite ingredients to make cocktails with?
My husband and I have 16 fruit trees at our house, so half the time I’m just using what I’m growing on the trees: plum, pluot, apricot, persimmon, pomegranate, kumquat, you name it.

What local bartenders are doing interesting work, in your opinion?
Karina Martinez is one who always has something creative going on. I’ve seen her do infusions using leather or smoked fig leaves. All the folks at Bottle and Barlow, they’re willing to use a lot of ingredients that other bars don’t touch and combine them in ways I haven’t seen before. And Zeph Horn at Hawks—everything he puts together is amazing.

So is there another cookbook in the works?
That’s what I’m aiming for. Whether it will be cocktail-focused I’m not sure yet.

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