Greetings from the warm cocoon that is our lovely cocktail studio on the westside of Providence! We’ve gotten an number of requests to share our favorite hot drink of 2020 (so far) and we’ve settled on one. Introducing: The Hot Chaga Mulled Cider, an elevated hot cider toddy fortified with a nourishing chaga infusion, a hint of birch syrup and a healthy glug of rum. Dress your mulled cider with any warming spices you have on hand! We love whole clove, allspice and cinnamon to draw in the heat. If you can’t find Birch syrup, a hint of maple will do just the trick. Apple cider sweet enough for you? You can skip the birch syrup and maple entirely!
Chaga (Inonotus obliquus), “the king of medicinal mushrooms,” is a parasitic fungus that grows on white and yellow birch trees in the Northern Hemisphere. The sterile conk forms on the bark and has the appearance of a torched marshmallow or burnt charcoal. The irregularly formed conk is harvested, dried and grated in order to be steeped in hot water to make a medicinal tea that’s good for the immune system because of its anti-viral, anti-microbial and (wildly enough) anti-fungal properties. Note: do not boil the chaga, this could compromise the stregnth your infusion*
Are there other benefits of Chaga?
Yes! The mushroom is said to fight inflammation, lower blood sugar and cholesterol, and generally slow the aging process. Chaga is a wonderful ingredient to have in your winter cocktail arsenal because it keeps well in the pantry and it’s easy to brew. The grounds can be re-steeped 2-3 times, making it a very efficient ingredient in the kitchen!
Hot Chaga Cider
2 ounces Anejo Rum
(We love Diplomático Rum Reserva Exclusiva)
6 ounces apple cider
2 ounces chaga infusion*
1 teaspoon whole mulling spices such as cloves, allspice, star of anise
cinnamon stick for garnish
1/4 ounce of birch syrup or maple syrup (optional)
brandied cherry for garish (it’s so festive!)
Chaga Infusion* Simmer 2 teaspoons of chaga powder in 1 cup of water for a minimum of 15 minutes, fine strain the liquid through a strainer or coffee filter and refrigerate the mushroom solids for your next batch. For a more potent large format elixir, simmer 4-5 chunks of chaga in 1 liter of water on the stove for up to 5 hours, cool to room temp, strain tea into a clean jar and refrigerate up to 2 weeks for future use. Reheat the tea as you need it.
Preparation: Add cider and spices into a medium pot on the stove and simmer for 15 minutes. In a smaller separate pan, boil chaga and strain into your hot cider batch, retaining the solids for future use. Once your spices have infused for at least 20 minutes, pour spirit, syrup and chaga infusion into a large mug and top without cider. Garnish with additional whole spices and a cocktail pick with a Luxardo cherry that has been rolled in brown sugar (for fun).
Brew up a cup for yourself and serve to friends and family in the spirit of good health and wellness.
Happy Thanksgiving! Whether you’re hosting or joining friends and family at their table this holiday, there’s a great cocktail recipe you can prepare ahead of time. There are so many tasks to do on the day of Thanksgiving, and this recipe is designed for folks who’d like to share a beautiful handmade cocktail but don’t have the time to build individual drinks for each person.
In my family, our beverage ritual revolves around sipping Champagne while dressing the turkey and gathering for cocktail hour when guests arrive. A massive cheeseboard, hot cider for the kids, a popcorn and cranberry stringing station in the living room- that’s what I can expect come about 4pm tomorrow afternoon. Here’s the recipe that I’ll be prepping this evening after I turn the turkey in the brine. Earthy and lightly sweet with a hint of smoke, The Dram is sure to please guests with a range of tastes. Have a crowd that prefers whiskey? Swap in your favorite Bourbon for the Mezcal to yield a slightly sweeter variation without the the smoke. Leave yourself about an hour to prepare the batch and make sure to savor a glass while you do so.
Cheers to a happy and relaxing holiday!
<3 Willa + Little Bitte
1½ oz Mezcal (Bourbon works too! )
¾ oz Pear Cider Syrup*
¾ oz Sweet Vermouth (I love Carpano Antica)
¼ oz Saint Elizabeth Allspice Dram
Tasting Notes: Boozy, warming spices
The Dram [Batch Recipe Version]
24 oz Mezcal (750ml bottle – 1 ounce for sipping while you batch!)
12 oz pear cider syrup*
12 oz sweet vermouth
4 oz Saint Elizabeth Allspice Dram** see note
8 ounces fresh apple cider (for balance + dilution)
Pear Cider Syrup*: Seed and dice 2 ripe juicy pears. Combine pear, apple cider and cinnamon in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, cool to room temp. Fine strain batch into a large bowl gently pressing residual liquid through the strainer with a large spoon and discard the solids. Pour batch into 2 clean sealable glass jars. Refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.
Allspice Dram**: If batching a day or days before you serve The Dram, reduce the amount of Allspice Dram to 2 ounces because the flavor is so strong. The flavor of amaros, bitters and spiced cordials amplifies significantly in batches.
Preparation: Combine liquid ingredients and divide into 3 clean bottles or 2 large mason jars and refrigerate. When ready to serve, fill a pitcher with ice and fill with batch. Serve into rocks glasses filled with ice. Garnish with fresh rosemary, thyme or lavender leaf.
Meet Brosé, this summer’s paramount spritz recipe made with gin, foraged beach roses, fresh citrus and bubbles. This simple yet impressive recipe will transport you directly to your favorite seaside destination- in my case, Block Island, where I love to forage beach roses and sip bubbly next to the ocean, preferably in a bathing suit. This floral spritz is perfectly sessionable for day drinking or to whet the palate during aperitivo. Word to the wise: batch a mason jar full of this cocktail and nestle it into your beach cooler to blow minds. Pick up a bottle of bubbly and a 5lb bag of ice on your way to the beach and sweet, rose-colored victory will be yours. Smile, you’re sparkling!
Brosé 3/4 ounce beach rose infused vodka* (Tito’s works great)
3/4 ounce honey syrup (1:1 recipe)
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
top with bubbly
garnish with beach roses or seasonal edible blossoms
Preparation: In a bart tin, combine infused vodka, honey syrup and lemon and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, top with a dry sparkling wine and garnish with edible blossoms. Cheers!
beach rose infused vodka* pack 1 large mason jar full of fresh beach rose petals and cover with vodka. Infuse for 1 week, strain, discard spent petals and funnel into a clean bottle or jar. Best enjoyed within 1 year, no need to refrigerate.
When foraging, make sure the botanicals have not been sprayed with pesticides and avoid harvesting near the roadside or high traffic areas (pollutants). Harvest responsibly: make sure you have permission to pick in the area only take as much as you need.
We want to have a drink with Willa Van Nostrand, especially if she’s the one making the drink. Mixologist, owner of Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails, singer/ songwriter, art curator, and infusively charming company, Willa is the total package. Okay, the total dream. We Insta-stalked her beautifully curated delicious photos (not to mention that topknot of hers) for about a year before calling her up and asking her to host a workshop at Ode. We met up in Quonquont orchard, where we got to play dress up and traipse around with Willa, eating apples whilst sipping her mango margarita. Even listening to her describe a drink will make your mouth water. Here’s a little sneak “sip” of what’s in store for our “Guide to Gatherings” workshop at Ode, this Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6-8pm. Foodie-Guru Victoria Accardi will accompany Willa with cheese and sweet bites. There are a few spots still open, so give us a call or stop by the boutique to sign up! Cheers!
How did you get your start in bartending and mixology?
I grew up on a small herb farm in Massachusetts with my mom, a midwife & herbalist—and my dad, a minister & bartender. I’ve always been pretty obsessed with food, so beverage was a natural extension. I worked in a bunch of bars through my late teens and early 20s, but really found my niche living in Italy for a year when I was working with cordials and Amari like Campari, Aperol, and Fernet Branca. Even when I was working at the family dive bar, I’d bring in my own edible blossom bouquets to garnish cocktails. Folks would start requesting the drinks I made for them, and that’s how the business was born. Before I knew it, I was doing a bunch of parties and weddings and shopping for insurance. Business, how romantic!
Describe the perfect sip:
The perfect sip is clean, sumptuously tart
and leaves you wanting another sip.
The perfect sip is insatiable.
The perfect sip is usually Champagne,
generally a very dry margarita,
and most often: a flute of sparkling rosé.
On friday nights, it’s a dirty martini with fancy queen olives,
in Italy, a spritz,
a voluptuous red wine.
Cognac, forever– aged off the vine.
What’s your spirit cocktail?
If mezcal is my spirit “spirit, ” then The Division Bell is my spirit cocktail (Mezcal, fresh lime, Aperol, maraschino cherry liqueur) for its astringency, appetizing pop of color, light bitterness, and smoke. It reminds me that I’m alive and every breath, sip and bite matters.
On top of being a business owner and expert mixologist, you are a singer in a band. What’s the music/style? Who’s in your band? Where can we see you perform?
Ah, Singing! My first love. I make my own music as Willa Van Nostrand and I’m in a band “The Van Nostrand Sisters” with my Sister Glenna and her partner, Ken Linehan, who’s fabulous. There’s an ever-evolving cast of characters, but it’s most minimally the 3 of us on stage. We make folk music, I write most of the songs and the band gives them life! Lots of harmonies, and our voices do that magic sister thing that sisters can do: very sweet, goofy, upbeat, folky? Dare I say, country? We dance around a lot and wear vintage dresses and costumes. We are working on recording our album and we don’t have any shows booked currently because we’re not letting ourselves play out until we finish the album. We usually play small clubs & venues, folk festivals, friends house shows in the woods, art spaces…. You get the idea. We love playing so if you have something in mind, don’t be a stranger. Record’s almost done!
Hold on, you have an art gallery? Explain!
Yes! I own a small storefront gallery called World’s Fair Gallery at 268 Broadway in Providence. We opened in 2010 as a site-specific gallery, and now we’re at home on Broadway. We curate shows inspired by taste, gustatory and aesthetic. For each show, we pair 2D & 3D artists with folks who make ceramics or handblown glass vessels. For the opening reception of each show, we pop-up and make cocktails that were designed for the artwork and the glassware. This business model works in a way that I can travel and install art pop-ups and bars in galleries and art fairs. I am really excited about World’s Fair and can’t wait to share more artwork, beautiful vessels and beverages with the world.
Best moment from a wedding:
Last summer we worked this insanely gorgeous wedding out near the beach in Tiverton, Rhode Island. The whole thing was romantic and candlelit with colorful lanterns hanging from the trees. After we broke down the bar, we were standing around having a shift drink and we all let our hair down (you know, the ‘Bitte bun’ up-do has to come down sometime). We looked like a group of mermaids on the lawn. The groomsmen called to us from the dance floor á la Romeo up to Juliet’s window: “Angels, sweet women, where have you been? It’s time to dance!”
I melted a little, we giggled a lot, and then got out of there as quickly as we could because we knew better! We had to bail before the midsummer night’s dream enchanted us all.
I also cried last week at a cranberry bog during the bride and groom’s first dance at sunset. Does that count? I end up crying at a lot of the weddings that I work because they’re so beautiful and touching. Once you work with a couple on their wedding for a year, you can get pretty emotionally attached.
Shaken or stirred?
Stirred! It’s traditional to stir a martini. “Stir spirits with vermouth, shake juice!”
But I say, if you’re the one drinking it — do whatever you want!
If you ask me to make you a cosmo, I’ll make you a damn good cosmo.
If you ask me to shake your martini, I’ll shake the living daylights out of it.
That’s what hospitality is about.
If you could have a drink anywhere with any one person, where and with whom would that be?
I’d have a cigar and a glass of Cognac with Gertrude Stein in Paris during her Expat salon years.
What’s the “garden” element of your tagline “craft cocktails from garden to glass in New England”?
All of our edible blossoms and fresh botanicals are organically grown, local or sustainably sourced. For the first 5 years of Little Bitte, my mom and I grew all of our botanicals. Now, we source our blossoms, fruit, and herbs from about 25 local growers.
To high winds and mermaids!
What’s essential for the perfect gathering?
Making your guests feel comfortable. Good lighting, enough food and drink for your guests, and their friends you didn’t know they were bringing along.
And ice! 2-3 pounds per guest to be specific.
We’re so excited to host 2 bars this Saturday, May 26th atWaterFire!
Visit us at our usual location near the ‘ring of fire’ above the basin (near Providence Place Mall) & visit our new bar down the the river next to The Starfield at the other end of the river!!! Receive a coupon at either bar for an extra special drink deal involving a magical Icelandic poppy potion infused just for the occasion.
For now, I bounce from coast to coast, but I plan to die in Providence. I was student at the Rhode Island School of Design more than a decade ago, and the magic of that jewel-box of a city still pulls on my heartstrings. It’s the Victorian homes, industrial buildings, the charmingly gruff New England personalities, and concentration of Italian American markets that have kept me coming back. The town is divided by the Providence river, separating the posh, College Hill area to its east, and the grittier, fast-developing downtown, Olneyville, Federal Hill, and Atwells to the west. Most tourists will cling to the picturesque, colonial Benefit street, with its gas lamps and pristine mansions, but that’s only a tiny sliver of what the city has to offer. This place has chutzpah. It’s the blue collar dive bar and the Ivy League, it’s Mayflower meets crust punk. What other city’s most beloved mayor was a convicted felon and the face of a popular line of packaged red sauce? R.I.P Buddy Cianci…..
…. For smaller grassroots galleries, World’s Fair Gallery is a tiny storefront next to the Columbus Theater that mounts thoughtful shows with local artists. It’s run by the owners of Little Bitte cocktails, a craft cocktail company that often pops up around town.
Join award-winning mixologist Willa Van Nostrand of Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails for an evening of craft cocktail making inspired by turn-of-the-century cocktails. Build 2 botanical recipes alongside Willa and sample delicious nibbles inspired by historic recipes from the Museum’s collection. And, learn about the art of glass flame working from local artist Katie Corticelli of Glass Sails, and take home a complimentary handcrafted shot glass.
Preregistration required. Space is very limited!
Handcrafted shot glass, two cocktails, & bites included.
$40 Rehoboth Antiquarian Society members, $50 nonmembers