This past summer Four Seasons Swann Lounge offered a cocktail menu prepared with ingredients from within 50 miles of Philadelphia. We asked Mike Haggerty, the creative mind behind this menu, to tell us more about it and how La Colombe coffee ended up in it.
“It was originally a competition between all the Four Seasons restaurants and bars. It was featured in Four Seasons magazine. The competition was to do one 100-mile cocktail. I actually took that head on and the first cocktail I made was everything within 15 miles. That was to take it as far as I could. Then I decided to create a full-menu of local drinks but figured a 50 miles menu would let me have a better range.”
The area is still about a quarter of what the competition required.
Below are some photos from his signature cocktail “the Valley Forge” with a small upgrade. Instead of using our filtered coffee, this time he used our cold brew Pure Black.
2 dashes vanilla bitters
Garnished with La Colombe beans
Mike is pretty certain he’ll be preparing another menu for the fall season as well; these might be the last few days to try the current menu.
During our interview Mike started to improvise a new cocktail with the Pure Black we have on hand. “This one I’m not certain it’ll work out. Are you familiar with Fernet?” He pointed out that Fernet is usually served as a digestif and it is commonly served with coffee, as well as mixed in coffee.
“It’s more like a bartender’s drink. Definitely an industry drink. It’s very herbaceous which soothes your stomach. Perfect after a meal and also great for hangovers.” The recipe of Fernet Branca is a house secret.
“Let’s do only a little bit of Fernet maybe an ounce or ¾ of an ounce with some lemon bitters (Fee Brothers) and some regular bitters (Angostura). A good garnish with that would be a lemon twist. Again this is all theoretic so let me see if this is palatable.” He tastes it and says: “See, I love this but if you’re not a fan of Fernet Branca, we might have to do something else. But I can promise you even if you have to force this down it will immediately cure your hangover.”
Mike explains to us that they bounce ideas off of each other all the time. It’s never a one-man show. Nick, another mixologist, has worked at Four Seasons for 23 years. He tries the drink and suggests adding “maybe a little bit of the fresh sours or a little bit of the simple syrup”
Mike puts in their house-made sour mix which is sugar, fresh lime and fresh lemon little bit of orange juice and a little bit grapefruit. “That was my secret weapon for the 50-mile menu. Technically you can’t get lemons from within 50 miles of Philadelphia but I made this in-house fresh sour mix. It was really my personal challenge anyway. I made the rules so I can stretch them.”
We get to finally try the cocktail with the added fresh sour mix and it’s a winner. Mike adds, “Maybe a little mint in that one.”
The 50-mile menu was in part possible because of the Four Seasons rooftop garden. Mike also helps tend this garden and collects herbs and ingredients to include in this creations. “There’s only 8 people who have access to the rooptop garden. It only happened about 2 years ago this is the second crop.” Four Seasons is hoping to make it accesable to public soon but for now here’s a sneak peek.