We love a good drink, and when we run out of ideas regarding what to pour in our glass, we reach out. Specifically, to the pros — vintners, sommeliers, brewers, bartenders, and distillers. This round, we asked chefs what they’re sipping on right now. And they offered some enlightening options, from non-alcoholic sodas to post-meal brandy. And with gastronomical senses like that, we’re not about to argue with these picks. In fact, we’re ready to try them ourselves.
Greg Higgins has been a staple of the Pacific Northwest culinary scene since he launched his eponymous restaurant in 1994. The chef has gifted us with some great recipes, like his take on the hearty Italian fish stew otherwise known as Cioppino. At home, he enjoys a nice mix of coffee, wine, and brandy. “There’s always a parade of various beverages in our home,” he says.
In the morning, it’s all about some quality caffeine. “The day usually starts with hand-ground Nossa Familia coffee in French Press,” Higgins says. “It’s the combination of really freshly roasted beans and the hand grinding with an old-school crank burr grinder — less friction and heat during the grinding yields a super flavorful cup of strong coffee.”
Later, it’s on to some great wines from near and far. At the moment, Higgins is really enjoying an Alto Adige white, specifically Kerner by Abbazia di Novacella. “The Kerner is a multi-faceted, well-balanced white with crisp acidity. It’s an all-around great nuanced white that pairs well to cheeses and seafoods alike,” Higgins adds.
For a good red, he’s enjoying some local work made right in the Willamette Valley. He gives a shout-out to Brickhouse and their 2017 ‘Cuvee du Tonnelier’ Pinot Noir. “Doug’s Pinot Noir is the complete package,” he says. “Organic, rich, rich red fruit, round silky tannins, and toasty oak. It’s awesome with grilled wild salmon.”
Finally, a spirit to cap the whole meal off and go out in style. “We love the more rustic character of Armagnac over Cognac,” he says. “The Delord 15-Year Réserve is concentrated and complex with the rough edges toned down by longer aging. Just the perfect sip to end the evening.”
Sedona Kusler is the chef at Montelupo in Portland. Recently, she gifted herself a SodaStream for some at-home refreshment. But Kusler doesn’t just drink fizzy water, tasty as that is. She likes to up the ante a bit and adds Som’s Ginger Cordial and some bitters. It’s like a wonderful, bright, and spicy tropical mocktail, perfect for any time of the day.
She’s a big ginger fan and also likes to be able to really dial in her beverages. “With this DIY soda, you can control the amount of sugar, so it doesn’t taste too sweet and you get more of that ginger flavor,” she says.
Chef Toby Amidor is a Wall Street Journal bestselling cookbook author and nutrition expert based in New York. With more than two decades of industry experience, Amidor is a veteran in the field. She’s into tea at the moment and prepared a certain way. “My go-to drink at the moment is chai tea because it’s filled with powerful antioxidants and has an enticing aroma and bold flavor,” she says. “My secret for elevating my morning tea and favorite way to add sweetness without the calories is by using Purecane.”
Amidor steeps the chai in boiling water and stirs in about a half-teaspoon of the sweetener, adding a splash of skim milk. She likes how it brings out the richness and earthy flavors of the chai and gives the drink balance.
Some, like Will Preisch, don’t drink coffee or alcohol. The Abbey Road Farm chef and innkeeper likes a matcha latte with lavender syrup. “I like to take two minutes out of my day to make this,” he says. “I look forward to this ritual. I’m using Mizuba Tea Company (culinary-grade) matcha and making the lavender syrup myself. We’ve got a ton of lavender on the property here at Abbey Road Farm.”
When it’s time to quench thirst, he reaches for a classic. “Topo Chico is a go-to beverage for me also,” he says. “Crisp and refreshing, nice small bubbles. I prefer the plain over the twist.”
In southern California at Sushi Note, chef Kiminobu Saito has earned a large following for his outstanding Japanese-inspired seafood. Right now, the beloved chef is really into classic French white wine. “I’m really enjoying Chablis because not only does it go well with sushi, but it’s a wine that I can enjoy throughout the day,” Saito says. The iconic cool-climate white from Burgundy is bright and acidic, an ideal sipper in its own right but particularly suited for fish, poultry, and vegetables. It’s a great one to try even if you don’t think you like wine because it’s so agreeable.
Thirsty yet? Go fix yourself a beverage.
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