Toasting the Berkshires at Home

Nearly 100 years have passed since the repeal of Prohibition, but the fingerprints of it endure all over the craft cocktail scene. The Berkshires region, where creative mixologists often update classic drinks invented during this influential era, is no exception. We’ve pulled together 4 Berkshires-inspired cocktail recipe favorites. 

According to cocktail expert David Guenette, retired bar manager at Number Ten, a steakhouse in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, it’s easy to tell the premium from the poseurs. First, look beyond sports bars, Irish pubs and dive bars to venues that prioritize the sip-and-savor mindset. Second, ask what type of vermouth they use (look for dry vermouth brands like Dolin or Lustau, and sweets like Cocchi Storico or Del Professore), and where they store it (hint: “in the fridge” is the right answer for a spirit that spoils quickly). Third, the staff should always use fresh citrus juice — not the stuff out of the lemon-shaped plastic squeeze bottle, and not sour mix.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions about ingredients and techniques. “As long as the bartender isn’t slammed, they should be open to answering your questions,” Guenette says. “If they’re not, it’s usually a red flag.”

Take the guesswork out of finding a great cocktail by heading to one of these Berkshire restaurants, bars or tasting rooms. Or you can make their Berkshires-inspired recipes yourself.

Berkshire Flip from Methuselah Bar
Berkshire Flip (Photo courtesy Methuselah Bar)

Berkshire Flip

Methuselah Bar, Pittsfield, Massachusetts

Located on North Street, Methuselah focuses on craft beers, organic and biodynamic wines and craft cocktails, in a funky, intimate lounge atmosphere. This recipe was crafted around Berkshire Mountain Distillers bourbon, plus the old-fashioned New England flavor of elderflower.

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 ounces Berkshire Mountain Distillers bourbon 
    • ½ ounce cinnamon simple syrup (see below)
    • ½ ounce lemon 
    • ½ ounce elderflower liqueur (Methuselah uses Massachusetts-based St. Elder)
    • 1 egg white 
    • Ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

    1. Place the egg white in a cocktail shaker. Add several cubes of ice and a whisk ball (if you have one). Cover and shake vigorously to froth. 
    2. Pour in the remaining ingredients, add another handful or two of ice cubes, cover and shake again. 
    3. Strain drink over a 7-ounce coupe glass. Sprinkle ground cinnamon on top of the froth. 

Cinnamon simple syrup 

Fill a glass Mason or other heat-resistant jar halfway with granulated sugar. Pour in an equal amount of boiling water and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add six cinnamon sticks and allow to cool before using.

Burning Down the House from The Airport Rooms at Tourists
Burning Down the House (Photo courtesy The Airport Rooms at Tourists)

Burning Down the House

The Airport Rooms at Tourists, North Adams, Massachusetts

Tourists is a Berkshire-style reimagining of the roadside lodge, with an on-site cocktail lounge, The Airport Rooms, located next door in a renovated 1813 farmhouse. 

According to The Airport Rooms’ Food & Beverage Director Irit Oren, “The star of this drink is the pineapple spirit made by Matchbook Distilling Co. in nearby Greenport, New York. Last fall, we led a foraging hike with their team, who will be launching a new spirit using ingredients we discovered around our nature campus.” 

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 ounces Matchbook Ritual Sister Smoked Pineapple Spirit 
    • 1 ounce Lillet Blanc
    • 1 bar spoon passion fruit syrup
    • Sesame oil
    • Fresh pineapple

DIRECTIONS

    1. Pour the pineapple spirit, Lillet Blanc and passion fruit syrup into a mixing glass, add ice and stir.
    2. Strain into a chilled glass. Top with three drops of sesame oil and garnish with a torch-dried pineapple slice. 
Nectar of the Gardens from Berkshire Mountain Distillers
Nectar of the Gardens from Berkshire Mountain Distillers (Photo by Martin Albert)

Nectar of the Gardens

Berkshire Mountain Distillers, Sheffield, Massachusetts

Established in 2007, artisanal maker Berkshire Mountain Distillers (BMD) has been at the forefront of the modern craft distiller movement. Last year, they opened a brand-new tasting pavilion at their Sheffield headquarters.

BMD has created a series of “cultural cocktails” that pay homage to some of the region’s most famous attractions. This modern spin on the classic Bee’s Knees was inspired by the Berkshire Botanical Garden.

INGREDIENTS

    • 1½ ounces Berkshire Mountain Distillers Greylock Gin
    • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
    • ½ ounce honey simple syrup (1:1 ratio of local honey to water)
    • 1 ounce cava or sparkling wine
    • Lemon twist
    • Sage leaf

DIRECTIONS

    1. Pour the gin, lemon juice and honey syrup into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake until well chilled. 
    2. Strain into a chilled stemware glass or coupe glass. Top with cava or sparkling wine. Garnish with the lemon twist and sage leaf.
Bengali Gimlet from Bondhu
Bengali Gimlet (Photo courtesy Bondhu)

Bengali Gimlet

Bondhu, New Ashford, Massachusetts

A newer entry on the Berkshire dining scene, Bondhu is a restaurant and culinary community space committed to bringing global perspectives to the region. 

Their Bengali Gimlet is a twist on a traditional cocktail, using house-made simple syrup steeped with panch phoron, a Bengali mix of five spices (cumin, fenugreek, brown mustard seeds, fennel and nigella seeds). The cocktail is poured over a round red hibiscus ice cube, an homage to the Bangladeshi flag. Ben Grimes, Bondhu’s bartender, says, “The Bengali Gimlet represents our aspiration for an inclusive and diverse Berkshires community.”

INGREDIENTS

    • 2 ounces gin
    • 1 ounce Bengali five-spice simple syrup
    • ½ ounce lime juice
    • Hibiscus tea ice cube, preferably sphere-shaped

DIRECTIONS

    1. Pour the ingredients in a cocktail shaker, add several ice cubes and shake. 
    2. Place a hibiscus ice cube in a rocks glass. Pour the cocktail over the top.

Top photo (Nectar of the Gardens from Berkshire Mountain Distillers) by Martin Albert.


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