By maria allen | Photography by Kjeld Mahoney
When it comes to winter cocktails, few people do it better than David Danforth, beverage director at The Quarry in Hingham. Clad in his signature bow tie and wielding a long silver cocktail spoon like a magician’s wand, Danforth delicately places a small pile of pomegranate seeds on the surface of a highball glass containing winter punch and stands back to look at his masterpiece.
“I love being able to share something that I find exciting with our guests,” says Danforth, who has designed the drink menu at The Quarry to be complex, yet approachable.
Danforth has a refined culinary approach to cocktails and puts extra thought and effort into every drink he makes, often incorporating seasonal New England ingredients in fun and exciting ways. Many of his one-of-a-kind cocktails contain small-batch liquors and homemade infusions, such as house-made shrub syrups (savory concoctions made with macerated fruits, vinegar and other ingredients), which stand at the ready in a rustic wood caddy atop the bar. Shrubs add a lot of flavor to drinks and are fairly easy to make, but they do require additional prep time. The good news is that Danforth’s recipes can be easily scaled up and made in large batches ahead of time.
Danforth is also known for his flavor-packed pickled garnishes, which decorate numerous drinks including the original Mimosas and Bloody Marys served at the restaurant’s now famous Sunday Brunch tableside ‘Quarry Cart.’ Specialty bottled cocktails are made on site and served tableside.
“When I was down in Manhattan I visited the bar Booker & Dax and the famed cocktail genius Dave Arnold had come up with a unique service method for delivering one of his favorite cocktails—Gin & Tonic,” says Danforth. “He mixed the cocktail together, chilled it down, carbonated to the perfect pressure, and then bottled it. I’ve never had something so simple done so scientifically perfect before or since! I thought the concept would make for a fun tableside experience, so we now incorporate this method on the cocktail menu. I try to keep the bottled cocktail on a seasonal rotation in order to incorporate whatever might be currently available.”
A natural storyteller, Danforth loves explaining the history behind his creative cocktails and he remains committed to keeping the culinary traditions of bygone eras alive. For his latest project, Danforth has curated a list of rare and hard-to-find vintage ales (he’s currently working towards becoming a Master Cicerone).
With the holiday season now upon us, Danforth has shared four festive holiday drink recipes that are guaranteed to knock the socks off your holiday guests. Those who don’t care to break out their cocktail shaker can sidle up to the bar at The Quarry during the month of December to test out one of Danforth’s dazzling featured creations. 415 Whiting St., Hingham, 781-340-7300, www.quarryhingham.com
All recipes were supplied by The Quarry Beverage Manager David Danforth.
City Lights Cocktail
Yield: 1 cocktail; 1 quart cranberry shrub or enough for 32 cocktails
- 2 oz. Green Mountain Distillery citrus vodka
- 1 oz. Combier (original)
- 1 oz. cranberry/apple shrub
- (see recipe below)
- 1 fermented cranberry for garnish
- 2 12-oz. bags of cranberries
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup raw sugar
- Put the citrus vodka, Combier and 1 oz. cranberry shrub into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously for 5 to 10 seconds. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with fermented cranberry.
- Combine the cranberries and sugar in a food processor and blend until mixture is reduced to a smooth pulp (1-2 minutes). Place mixture in a non-reactive container and place in the refrigerator for 24 hours. After 24 hours, add the cider vinegar and let sit in the refrigerator for another 24 hours. After the final 24 hours, strain the fruit pulp through a fine mesh chinois, pressing out all the juice with a ladle. Discard the pulp and repass the syrup through the chinois a second time to catch any remaining fine pulp. Store in the refrigerator in a non-reactive container for up to 6 months.
(Formerly Winter Pisco Punch)
Yield: 1 cocktail; 1 quart or enough syrup
for 32 cocktails
- 2 oz. Barsol Achelado Pisco brandy
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 1 oz. clementine spiced syrup (see recipe below)
- 1.5 oz. ginger beer
- Clementine slices and pomegranate seeds for garnish
Clementine Spiced Syrup
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 cups water
- 2 tbsp. clementine zest
- 2 inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- 1 tbsp. allspice berries
- 1 tbsp. black peppercorns
- 1 tbsp. distilled white vinegar
- 5-6 fresh clementines, peeled and separated into segments
- Combine first six ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a tall glass with ice and top with ginger beer. Garnish with clementine slice and pomegranate seeds.
Clementine Spiced Syrup
- Combine first six ingredients in a saucepan.
Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat. Add the vinegar and cool to room temperature. Strain the syrup
(discard the solids).
- Add fresh clementine segments.
- For a party, the punch can be made in advance in a container like an empty plastic milk/juice jug and shaken that way. Store in the refrigerator for service later in the evening. Stays fresh for one week in refrigerator.
Letters From Mexico Cocktail
Yield: 1 cocktail; 1 quart fig purée or enough for 32 cocktails
- 2 oz. Gran Centenario Reposado tequila
- 1 oz. fig purée (see recipe below)
- 1 oz. lime juice
- .5 oz. light agave nectar
- 1 dash Bittermens Hellfire Bitters
- 1 candied chili for garnish
- 1 lb. dried black mission figs
- 1 750 ml ruby port wine
- Add all the ingredients to a shaker filled with ice and shake for 10 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe-style cocktail glass. Garnish with a candied chili.
- Clean the figs by removing any stems. Place the figs in a medium saucepan and cover with the port wine. Simmer over low heat until the figs have swelled and the port has reduced by half (approx. 45-60 minutes). Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes. Once cool enough to work with, add the figs and port to a food processor and process for 1-2 minutes, until smooth. Pass through a coarse strainer to remove some of the larger pieces. Place in a non-reactive container in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Winter Harvest Cocktail
Yield: 1 cocktail; 1 quart of apple/ginger shrub
or enough for 20 cocktails
- 2 oz. Tito’s vodka
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 1 oz. apple/ginger shrub (see recipe below)
- Candied ginger for garnish
- 8 tart apples (preferably Granny Smith)
- 1 cup grated ginger (freeze the ginger first for easy grating)
- 3 cups white sugar
- 2 cups apple cider vinegar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 star anise pod
- 10 allspice berries, cracked
- 5 whole cloves
- Combine first 3 ingredients in a shaker. Shake vigorously for 10 seconds, until well chilled. Dip a martini glass in a cinnamon/sugar mixture. Strain the cocktail into the martini glass. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger.
- Cut the apple into 2-inch chunks (be sure to use the top and bottom of the core but not the core itself). Combine the apples, ginger and sugar in a food processor and blend until mixture is reduced to a smooth pulp (1-2 minutes). Place in a non-reactive container in the refrigerator for 48 hours. Steep the spices in the vinegar in a non-reactive container at room temperature for 48 hours. Combine the two and strain the pulp through a fine mesh chinois, pressing out all the juice with a ladle. Discard the pulp and repass the syrup through the chinois a second time to catch any remaining fine pulp. Store in the refrigerator in a non-reactive container for up to 6 months.