The Cent'Anni Spirit Syrup story began in 2004, in my kitchen. I was making a Jalapeno Syrup for cocktails to be served at the bar I was managing at the time. Cocktail syrups were not being hand made in San Francisco.
I grew up in, North Beach, San Francisco. My grandparents were lovers of food and drink. At a very young age, I was taught how to cook. I just wanted somehow, someway get food and my garden into my cocktail glass.
It was October 13th,2004. Not only my favorite month of the year, but a time where I love to celebrate my ancestors. Hunters and gathers, fishermen, and chefs.
I wanted to make a simple jalapeno infused syrup for tequila cocktails I was creating for the bar I managed and for a cocktail competition coming up.
My Genovese Nonie had passed away a year earlier, but this day, she came to me in the kitchen. I had simple syrup simmering and 4 jalapenos sitting the side board next to the stove top.A light wind came through the open window, around my right shoulder, and 3 of the peppers rolled into the fire!
Talk about a lightbulb moment!
I screamed, "ROASTED JALAPENO SYRUP! ROASTED PEPPER SYRUP!!" My dog, Bear barked, the cats went scampering out the door and I was dancing in circles! Do you remember the Snoopie Dance?
Thus my first "Spirit Syrup" was born, October 13th, 2004. A true dedication to the Spirit of Nonie and the Spirit of which my syrups are paired.
I entered a Partida tequila cocktail competition, where my recipe included my "Roasted Jalapeno Syrup". The cocktail won 1st place. Then I created the Chocolate Chili Spice Syrup , stemming from my love for cooking and my love for Dia de los Muertos.
Strawberry Rhubarb was born in the Spring of 2005, and the tangy Lemon Spice 2006. Both Syrups winning in cocktail competitions, from California, to New York, to Las Vegas.
In January,2009, I was cleaning one row of a bookshelf, a small book literally fell on my head. It was "Kitchen Magic with Mushrooms, A collection of recipes from the Mycological Society. 1968. It was my Grandfathers. I joined the society that day, thinking I would put my mind on other hobbies, other than cocktails.
I went to my first mushroom club meeting, and the very first thing that came to my head was "How do I get these mushrooms into my cocktails?" Well so much for leaving work behind.
I foraged for Candy Cap Mushrooms with a co-member, and immediately when I got home made a Candy Cap Mushroom Syrup. Candy Cap Mushroom has an amazing scent of maple, with the earthy taste of mushroom and is umami rich.
I created the "Foraged Manhattan" and my "Foraged Fall Harvest" cocktail with bourbon and unfiltered apple juice.
Everyone, from bars, restaurants, events, clubs, family and friends, told me to not stop creating and using the syrups and find a partner to help me bottle. Luck would not have me.
24 cocktail competition wins later, several of them included my syrups and then in June of 2013, I recieved an email. THE email from an old friend that would change my life.
Thank you Nonie for the visit....
Here are 2 articles about The Foraged Manhattan.
Thank you Lou Bustmonte and Gary Regan
The syrups and original bottling.
Photo Credit: Lou Bustamonte