Spring Cocktails and Canapés

Spring Cocktails

Spring Cocktails

The craft cocktail renaissance in America has taken hold in Madison, Wisconsin. Here, local mixologists are inspired by seasonal, fresh produce from local farms—reinforcing the farm-to-table ideal that guides most Madison restaurants.

We tapped three teams of mixologists and chefs from restaurants with top cocktail programs to share what they’ll be serving this spring.

Red Rock Ham Salad Canapés and Jack Rose Riff

Red Rock Ham Salad

Chef Evan Dannells from Merchant Restaurant in Madison, WI developed a spin on traditional ham salad featuring Roelli Cheese Haus’ Red Rock cheese. “Red Rock is such a rich, funky cheese,” Dannells said. “The bright orange color is so striking in this recipe and the blue veining in the cheese adds a really unique flavor.”

Get the recipe for the Red Rock Ham Salad Canapés.

To make the Jack Rose Riff:
1 3/4 ounces apple brandy
1/2 ounce Quince and Apple tart cherry grenadine
1/4 ounce cinnamon syrup
3/4 ounce lime juice

Add all ingredients to a shaker tin with ice and shake for 20 seconds. Strain into a chilled old fashioned glass. Garnish with a lime peel.

Heritage Tavern
Arancini with Bandaged Wrapped Cheddar and a Watercress Smash


Sous Chef Jon Rosnow from Heritage Tavern in Madison, WI highlighted Bleu Mont Dairy’s Cave Aged Bandaged Cheddar in an arancini with watercress pesto. The sweet caramel notes and nuttiness of the aged cheddar contrast with the peppery flavors of the watercress.

Get the recipe for Arancini with Bandaged Wrapped Cheddar.

To make the Watercress Smash:
4 strawberries
1 1/2 ounces St. George Botanivore Gin
1 ounce Lillet Blanc
1/2 ounce lemon juice
8 watercress leaves

Muddle strawberries in a cocktail shaker; add remaining ingredients, cover and shake gently. Pour the cocktail into a double old fashioned glass and top with fresh ice. Garnish with strawberry and watercress.

Queso Fresco and Pickled Ramp Relish Crackers and Spring Forward

Queso Fresco Cracker

Spring flavors are on display in the cocktail and canapé pairing from Forequarter. The sweet and spicy Spring Forward complements the mild, fresh flavors from the queso fresco cheese and pea purée in the canapé.

Get the recipe for Queso Fresco and Pickled Ramp Relish Crackers.

To make the Spring Forward:
1 dash black pepper bitters
15 grinds black and pink peppercorns
1 1/4 ounces house-made rhubarb liqueur
1 1/4 ounces fortified wine (madeira medium dry)
1 spritz absinthe

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice; stir 30 seconds or until drink froths. Spritz a cocktail glass with absinthe. Double strain the drink into the glass and garnish with pink peppercorns.

For more spring recipes, check out the latest issue of Grate. Pair. Share.