By now it’s official: Sonoma Valley’s summer of 2019 cocktail is the “Sonoma Spritz.” How official? The hot-pink refresher, a collaborative effort from Prohibition Spirits and Gloria Ferrer, is termed “official cocktail” in their press release, anyway. But I’m told that Sonoma Valley Visitors Bureau Executive Director Tim Zahner had a hand in it, so I track him down to verify.
“I am not a mixologist,” Zahner says, “even though I had facial hair before they did.”
Zahner doesn’t take credit, but he says he got really excited when Prohibition Spirits co-founders Fred and Amy Groth said they wanted to create something for the Sonoma lifestyle similar to what they experienced during a trip to Italy—a low alcohol aperitif to mark the start of a relaxing evening. The official recipe calls for 2 ounces. Prohibition Spirits’ SPRITZ Apero Americano ($35), a bright pink digestif made with a base of their grape brandy, and infused with orange, cherry and bittering herbs, and colored naturally with cochineal—an insect shell, so not vegan; 3 ounces Gloria Ferrer brut sparkling wine; 1 ounce club soda; orange slice for garnish.
Prohibition Spirits is not licensed to pour cocktails at their Cornerstone Sonoma tasting room, but Sonoma’s official cocktail can be ordered during “Spritz Week,” May 20–26, at the Swiss Hotel, Mary’s Pizza Shack, BV Whiskey Bar, Maya, Hopmonk, Palooza, Tips Roadside, The Girl & the Fig and more locations.
Pale by comparison: Made from Pinot Noir grapes, Kathleen Inman’s Endless Crush OGV Estate Rosé ($38) is a light, crunchy, strawberries-and-watermelon sipper in the Provençal camp, with accents of rosewater and just a touch of a vegetal edge that readies the palate for summer salad and goat cheese.
Road worthy: both excellent picnic wines, Clif Family’s 2018 Rte Blanc Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($28) and 2016 Bici North Coast Red Blend ($42) inspire a more adventurous summer, with his-and-hers labels featuring co-founders Kit Crawford and Gary Erickson cycling up steep roads in Northern Italy. The Sauv Blanc is grapey and grassy, with notes of lemon verbena and juicy, tart melon, and the red is a supple Grenache-Syrah blend. Get inspired, pour half the bottle in a canteen, and enjoy the other half at the end of the journey.
Outlook juicy: hazy IPA may not go the way of yesteryear’s craze for cloudy hefeweizen this summer, but Bear Republic’s bright, grapefruity Thru the Haze IPA would be fine with a slice of Meyer lemon. Less citrusy, more floral, Sonoma Springs’ Juicy in the Sky hazy double IPA is maltier, at 9 percent alcohol, but deceptively restrained in the brewery’s crisp, Teutonic style.