Truss & Twine
The mountains and the desert have continued to change while we’ve lived here in Coachella Valley. When we arrived, the lower mountains were shades of grey, lavender, coral and beige, the color of the sand. The peaks to the West are dusted with snow as spring arrives. Now, the desert has turned green with new growth. Within the last week, yellow flowers have sprouted throughout the valley floor, different weeds flowered in unison. In unison, in time and color.
Today the weather was calmer, the wind died down and the humidity has drifted away. There's something about the desert that lulls you here, it's like time is just slightly slower and distance is slightly further. Well that suites Ruka and I just fine because one of the things we like to do is take a walk at rise and sunset. With a slight breeze at our backs and long shadows before us, we traced our way down our sandy trail. Ruka said to me, "you know those fans don't spin fast enough to cool the desert off and they sure put up a lot of them". I just laughed and said you're just being silly, you know those are wind turbines. "I know”, she said, “but it would be a lot cooler if they went faster". Oh well listen, as I changed the subject, I need to check out a new place that just opened in Palm Springs. Do you want to go out tonight? “No” she said, “I'm going to stay home and listen to music”. Okay, I'll tell you about it later.
"This venue is indeed a mixologist’s day dream."
Ruka doesn't drink so hanging out at the bar doesn't really suit her, but I had to check out a little place called Truss & Twine. Now it really wasn't hard for me to find this place because it's in the same building with the Workshop Kitchen & Bar. The Workshop opened four years ago, but Truss & Twine has just been opened two weeks when I stopped in. I’ve always loved the opening weeks of a restaurant’s life. Well, I guess I know a thing or two about opening new restaurants and bars.
Unlike the Workshop Kitchen & Bar, which you might walk by and not notice, Truss & Twine is right on the sidewalk. You can't help but notice it and you can't pass it without thinking I want to go in there and check this place out. The first thing that gets you is the decor of the room. It draws you in like curiosity lures the cat. The architecture, the lighting, the music will pull you into a room, but it is the food, the service and the beverages that will bring you back.
The motif, like the Workshop Kitchen & Bar, is concrete. A rectangular room with tables on either side of a rectangular concrete bar. Then they place before you a rectangular menu. This is when you realize that both Truss & Twine and the Workshop Kitchen & Bar have the same chef. Once you look at the menu, whether you're a cocktailian or a foodie, this is the spot you would enjoy.
On the left side of the narrow menu you’ll find a list of cocktails. They are broken up into five sections, Golden Age, Prohibition, Tiki, Dark Ages and Originals. On my first visit, I did not make it past the Golden Age section. The first drink that caught my eye was an Artisan Old Fashioned, but I moved down the list to a drink called Brooklyn. A Brooklyn, also known as a Blue-Collar Cocktail, is made with Rye Whiskey, Dry Vermouth, Amaro Cio Ciaro, Maraschino, orange bitters, and lemon zest. Now let's break that down. You certainly know what Rye Whiskey is and, of course, you’re familiar with Dry Vermouth, but Amaro Cio Ciaro and Maraschino might be two things behind the bar that you've not tried before. Both are Italian. Amaro CioCiaro is a digestif dating back to the 1870’s. Based on bitter orange, the recipe is still a closely guarded secret. And Maraschino is a liqueur based on Marasca Cherries. “The 'Marasca' cherry as grown in coastal Croatia (historic Dalmatia) is reputed to attain its finest flavour.” These ingredients combined make an awesome cocktail, yet I doubt your average bartender has never heard of a Blue-Collar Cocktail. Because there isn't much of a Blue-Collar clientele in Palm Springs, I think the name Brooklyn is decorous.
In the next section, labeled Prohibition, are three drinks that are made from Gin. The Hanky Panky, the South Side, and the Fallen Angel. In this category I would choose the Hanky Panky, duh. It’s made from Ransom Barrel-aged gin, Sweet Vermouth and Fernet Branca. A combination of ingredients that I would have never conjured.
In the Tiki section there are another four cocktails Three Dots and a Dash, Queen's Park Swizzle, Hotel Nacional Special and the old time favorite, Planter's Punch. I don't have enough space to tell you about every single drink, but Three Dots and a Dash is one I just had to try. Here they mix Rhum Agricole, Demerara Rum, orange, lime, honey, allspice Dram and bitters. (Comment pending). “Rhum agricole is the French term for cane juice rum, a style of rum originally distilled in the French Caribbean Islands from freshly squeezed sugar cane juice rather than molasses.” “Allspice dram is a simple liqueur flavored with allspice berries. It's also known as pimento dram, because allspice is a berry from the pimento tree. Allspice dram adds a dark, strong, and spicy counterpoint to rum and sweet ingredients in Tiki drinks.”
The next section is entitled Dark Ages. I'm not clear why they chose that title because I would have called this section Metro. It includes four drinks, the Surfer on Acid, the White Russian, the Cosmopolitan and the Long Island Iced Tea. None of these are made from your typical bottled ingredients you find in every other bar. The Cosmopolitan, for instance is made with a house lime cordial. Here at Truss & Twine they make their own house grenadine, Orgeat Syrup as well as other drink ingredients.
And finally, is the section called Originals, drinks created at Truss & Twine. The Duck and Cover, Green Philter, Game Changer, and Velvet Touch are their signature drinks. These are recipes you'll have to have discover when you come the Palm Springs. This venue is indeed a mixologist’s day dream. It's refreshing to sit at a bar look up with the bottles and see labels you've never seen before. It takes a real effort on the part of the bar staff to find little-known Boutique distillers that produce quality products and the staff at Truss & Twine have done just that.
But there's more. The left side of the menu.
The top third of the left side delineates their choices for Beer, Cider and Wine by the glass, but then down the page you will find a category called Bar Bites. I started the evening with Mexican Kumamoto oysters with a Kimchi Mignonette Lardo. Now I've had Kumomotos many times, but I've never had Mexican Kumamoto oysters, these were exquisite. “Kumamoto oysters are deep-cupped with petite meats, have a mild brininess, sweet flavor and a honeydew finish. They are a favorite for both new oyster eaters and connoisseurs. Kumamoto oysters originated in Yatsushiro Bay, Kumamoto Prefecture, Kyushu Japan and were shipped to the US in 1945.” I must admit the Kumamoto oysters are my favorite species, but I’ve always had them from California, Washington State or British Columbia. These Mexican oysters had a distinctly similar character and yet unique salt flavor generated by the warmer waters of Mexico. My second choice was the Smoked Trout Rillettes, trout roe and cucumber gel served with a Rye wafer. A delicate choice for the pallet and artful choice for the eye. Next the Rabbit Confit, whole grain mustard jus, desert sage and young market root vegetables. Yum.
Every time I see rabbit on a menu I’m drawn to order it, and this time it was delectable.
If you have never had rabbit you're missing out on one of the finest items I’ve enjoyed while dining out.
And then there is the cheese plate. Truffle Pecorino. Need I say more?
When I got back home, I couldn’t wait to tell my sweet Ruka what a great place it was. I said, You missed out on an awesome spot…. I had the rabbit!
“No way”, she said, “I love rabbit!”
Hats off to Executive Chef Michael Beckman and Chef de Cuisine Max Becker
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Enjoy life, drink responsibly.
1) Strikić, Frane; Radunić, Mira; Vuletin Selak, Gabriela; Čmelik, Zlatko; Družić, Jasmina, "Comparative Advantages of Sour Cherry 'Marasca' (Prunus cerasus L. var. Marasca) cultivation in Croatia" International conference of "Perspectives in European Fruit Growing", Lednice, Češka Republika, 18-20. October 2006
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