When one of your favorite restaurants asks you to come in and work with them to create a special cocktail to be offered on the menu for a special wine dinner, you jump at the chance! We were asked by the fine folks at Dante Ristorante Pizzeria to take part in their Tuscan Wine Dinner and create a cocktail that would compliment the cuisine of Chef Nick Strawhecker who was creating a special menu inspired by his time working at Il Falconiere, a Michelin starred restaurant in the heart of Tuscany.
This post contains sponsored content brought to you by Dante Ristorante Pizzeria.. We were provided a complimentary dining experience In exchange for the creation of a cocktail recipe, but all opinions and views presented here are 100% our own. For further information, or if you are interested in working with us please see our Disclaimer page.
After extensive experience in kitchens in Italy, Chef Strawhecker returned to the US where he worked with renowned chefs like Wolfgang Puck and Sean McClain to hone his skills to a fine edge. He returned home to Omaha in 2008 and started Dante Ristorante Pizzeria and features wood fired Neapolitan pizza and rustic Italian cuisine. Taking inspiration from his mentors, Chef Strawhecker focused on creating exceptional cuisine from hyper-seasonal, local ingredients and pairing it with a collection of excellent Italian wines under the supervision of Sommelier Adam Weber to create one of the finest dining experiences in Omaha.
For this wine dinner, Dante took us down memory lane to Chef Strawhecker’s time working at Il Falconiere which is owned by the same family as the winery featured for this dinner, Baracchi wines. Set in the heart of the vineyard, Il Falconiere has been owned by the Baracchi family for over 7 generations, and along with the Baracchi vineyards has focused on bringing incredible quality to their products, with Il Falconiere being awarded a coveted Michelin star and several of the Baracchi Wines getting awarded over 90 points by Wine Spectator.
We were thinking about some of the great cuisine we have had in previous meals (like the spring menu preview!) to inspire the cocktail we were going to make for this Tuscan Wine dinner. Knowing that Chef Strawhecker likes to use seasonal ingredients in his meals, we decided we wanted to create a cocktail that drew inspiration from Italy and spring. Working with Dustin, the head bartender, We came up with the Sale Asparo, a crisp sour cocktail that is a take off of the classic whiskey sour but with a little Italian flair.
The Sale Asparo featured Bulleit Bourbon, Bulleit Rye, Ransom Dry Vermouth and Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro for the base spirits. The combination of the bourbon and rye add complex whiskey note to the drink, the bourbon providing a caramel undertone while the rye adds a spicy fruity note. The Ransom Dry Vermouth brings a nice floral note and light acidity that worked really well with the fresh lemon juice. The drink took an Italian edge with the Amaro Sfumato Rabarbaro, an Italian amaro made with alpine berries, herbs and smoked rhubarb root. The smokiness of the Amaro Rabarbaro adds a deep smoky bitterness with just a hint of salt that helps balance the sourness of the lemon while pulling out the char of the whiskey barrels. A finish of angostura bitters, peychaud’s bitters and Earl Grey infused honey syrup balances the sour and makes the Sale Asparo a crisp complex cocktail perfect for pairing with the bold flavors of Chef Strawhecker’s cuisine.
Chef Strawhecker laid out a beautiful 4 course meal that featured his beautiful cuisine using fresh local ingredients. For these wine dinners, Adam Weber, the sommelier picks out wines that pair up perfectly with the courses. The Baracchi wines we were served all were fantastic examples of fine Italian wines, from the delicious crisp white Astore to the bold Smerglio syrah. Each wine was thoughtfully selected and enhanced the dishes Chef Strawhecker presented.
Dante holds these special wine events monthly and each event features a special focus on some aspect of Italian wines, be it a specific winery, style or region. With Adam Weber being a certified Italian Wine Professional, his knowledge of Italian wines is deep and his tastes impeccible, meaning your wine and dining experience will be right on point! Check Dante’s webpage for more details on upcoming events! Cheers!
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