Cocktails, Mead

Sprinkle and Dagger Spritz

A spritz can be an uninspired, sweet, concoction, but in the right hands a good mixologist can craft a refreshing and complex drink, given the endless number of combinations and proportions available. One of the risks of drinking a fine spritz is that consumption of one begs for another etc. This scenario is limited for this spritz because of the transient and limited availability of one of the key components: the 2020 Vermouth by Oregon wine maker Kelley Fox.

The Kelley Fox Vermouth has an interesting history as it originated in the aftermath of the 2020 Oregon forest fires that had many honest wine makers grapple with the question how to deal with the smokey grape harvest of that year. For this vermouth, the Kelley Fox 2020 Maresh Pinot noir was fortified to a brandy by distiller Lynsee Sardell of Big Wild Spirits. Stephanie Sprinkle carefully blended 35 locally sourced plants (including wormwood, rose, elderflower, Angelica, and chamomile) into the mix to make this exceptional vermouth, which, naturally, also shines on its own.

The Kelley Fox Vermouth is an off-dry, bitter, herbal, slightly tannic drink with a long and complex finish. Making this the main player in a spritz makes for a more effervescent, dryer, version of this vermouth.

Enlightenment Wines Dagger Mead is a potent barrel-aged botanical cherry mead from Bushwick, Brooklyn, that includes locally grown black cherries, hand-harvested fir needles, foraged hemlock, yarrow and chamomile. A spritz based on Dagger alone is still quite powerful and edgy, not in the least because it reveals a fascinating rust-like color held up to the light.

The most pleasing result (to my palette) occurred when I mixed the Kelly Fox Vermouth and the Enlightenment Wines Dagger in equal parts as the basis for the Spritz. This combination blended the sweet herbal notes of the vermouth with the more powerful Dagger notes.

Art for Kelley Fox Vermouth (left) and Enlightenment Wines Dagger Mead (right)

The recipe for the Sprinkle and Dagger Spritz is basic:

1/3 sparkling white wine (dry)
1/3 equal parts of Kelley Fox Vermouth and Enlightenment Wines Dagger Mead
1/3 soda water
Optional: a slice of fruit or plant (!)

This recipe can be tweaked to make the drink more alcoholic (decrease the soda water), sweeter (increase the amount of Vermouth), or more aggressively botanical (increase the amount of Dagger).