|THATCHER’S ORGANIC ARTISAN LIQUEURS USHER IN A REFRESHING CHANGE IN COCKTAILS
Clean is David Racicot’s favorite word when describing his Thatcher’s Organic Artisan Liqueurs. “Clean ingredients like this are very easy and confident tools for a mixologist to use without cluttering a cocktail with emulsifiers and heavy additives,” says Racicot. “Think about a fine food experience. You want to enjoy each ingredient. You want to enjoy your next bite without your last bite being there.”
Racicot founded Thatcher’s Organic three years ago after leaving Skyy Vodka, where he was Vice President of Marketing. He spent the first year sourcing the organic ingredients for his liqueurs. The next year was spent on production and perfecting the recipes. And this year, he is spreading the word about his USDA-certified organic liqueurs.
David Racicot, founder of Thatcher’s Organic Artisan Liqueurs, photographed at RN74, Michael Mina’s Burgundy-themed winebar bistro in San Francisco.
At Sauce, in San Francisco, a restaurant that features six of Thatcher’s 11 flavors, Racicot holds up a bottle of the Coffeehouse liqueur. “Look how dark that is,” he said. No light penetrates the liquid in the bottle. “That color is pure coffee bean; no caramel or colors are added. I can’t, because I’m organic.”
Racicot soaks the coffee beans in the spirits for several weeks, slowly extracting the flavor until it achieves the taste of a perfectly-brewed cup, clean and not acidic, with a little sugar on the back end. His other flavors include Blood Orange, Pomegranate, Elderflower, Cucumber, Tres Chiles, Chipotle, Blueberry, Dark Chocolate, Apple Spice Ginger and Yumberry.
The Yumberry is indigenous to China and Southeast Asia and has a taste that sits between ras pberry and strawberry. Racicot says it makes a lovely Margarita. When added to Prosecco, it makes a spritzer he calls a Yummy Mommy. “Yumberry with saké is also a perfect compliment for sushi.” he adds.
At RN74, one of Chef Michael Mina’s San Francisco hotspot, Racicot pours a little of Apple Spiced Ginger liqueur, which is made from organic Gala apples in a proprietary recipe based his family’s spiced cider. The ginger is sliced very thin in a deli slicer and dissolves quickly when introduced into the liqueur.
“We add the ginger at the last minute,” he said. “Then we bottle it right away to preserve the aromatics, or it would drift away.” Ginger is prominent in the nose, along with estery impressions of apples, bananas and pie spices, all of which carry through to the palate in an apple-pie flavor that is sweet but not cloying.
When Racicot is not making liqueur, he’s busy saving the planet. He incorporates a triple-bottom-line approach of environmental stewardship, collective profitability and charity. Thatcher’s is a member of One Percent for the Planet, an alliance of businesses that pledge one percent of their sales for environmental causes worldwide. As Racicot puts it, “We are part of a group of companies that believe very passionately in a certain way.”
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Thatcher’s in Action . . .
Justin Roberts, Lead Bartender at RN74 in San Francisco, sees the Thatcher’s Organic Liqueurs as new playthings, and he likes playing with the Pomegranate. “I make a Pomegranate Caipirinha, which comes out pretty good,” says Roberts, who presides over one of the city’s busier happy hours.
Justin Roberts is Lead Mixologist at RN74, Michael Mina’s Burgundy-themed winebar bistro in San Francisco.
Roberts’s creations compete with more than 50 wines by the glass in this Burgundy-themed restaurant/winebar, and this has him both experimenting and drawing from historic recipes. One of his favorites is a Golden Dawn, a cocktail he makes with Calvados, gin, apricot brandy, orange juice and Thatcher’s Pomegranate. “That’s an old drink—a pre-Prohibition-era cocktail,” He says. “It’s fun to make a drink like that with modern ingredients.”
Thatcher’s definitely fills a niche for him by providing organic alternatives in a foodie restaurant where such options are often requested. With the wintry weather, he has been playing with the darker drinks. “The other one I like to play around with is the Apple Spiced Ginger. It goes well with bourbon and honey, those kinds of flavors.” He pauses, letting a wry smile grow, then adds, “Throw a little Dijon in there.”
But with summer around the corner, he will lighten things up with the Thatcher’s Cucumber and lighter flavors like the Elderberry, to please tourists and pair with periodic menu changes. Nodding to the dining room where they serve modern adaptations of simple, French, country cuisine, Roberts says, “We try to play into their flavors and we’ll see what kind of seasonal fruit shows up.”
Sauce is a good place to get sauced (assuming you have a designated driver), or to have dinner before the opera. Located within walking distance of San Francisco’s Davies Symphony Hall and War Memorial Opera House, it gets busy when either is in season. Having one of the few kitchens that stays open late and a bar that’s open ‘til 2 a.m, Sauce gets a late rush from workers fresh from their shifts in other Hayes Valley restaurants.
Mixologist Riel Peloquin keeps the customers satisfied at Sauce in San Francisco.
And in the outer room, a friendly bartender holds court and greets regulars with a heartfelt smile and a handshake. Riel Peloquin, Sauce’s Head Mixologist, puts a warm glow on a usually chilly city. Thatcher’s is a recent arrival on his shelves and the liqueurs become some of his favorite tools of late. “They are light-flavored spirits that you can enhance cocktails with,” says Peloquin. “Typically, it enhances and flavors clear spirits in a subliminal way.”
Thatcher’s Elderflower has become one of his go-to ingredients for subtle and simple cocktails. Peloquin says, “I now have a huge fan following for the Elderflower liqueur in Prosecco wine—a sort of Elderflower Spritzer if you will. It’s very summery.”
Peloquin is also having fun with some of the five other Thatcher’s flavors that he stocks at Sauce. Another of his favorites is switching out the vermouth in a Manhattan with Thatcher’s Dark Chocolate. He is delighting in creating diabolical drinks with Thatcher’s in brown spirits. “It’s more fun to create something magical with whiskey or añejo tequila,“ Peloquin says. “That’s what’s challenging—to dabble in the dark spirits.”