“This is called a Persimmon Bellini, which would be a good drink to serve on New Year’s Day. It’s not as boring as a regular mimosa, which I was getting sick and tired of. This one has flair,' said Anderson Stroup as she sprinkled some pomegranate seeds on top for added color. “This is a signature drink you can serve in the morning.'
Anderson Stroup says that when mixing drinks like these, one should use more economical sparkling wines or prosecco — “save the good stuff, the real Champagne, like Dom Perignon, to drink straight up and drink at midnight.'
Set up at her kitchen island, Anderson Stroup looked like a chemist creating her libations. Her friend and professional mixologist, Kim Curley, was working as a lab assistant on this day. The two like to think outside the box to figure out the right combinations of ingredients and liquors.
“I do have my own concoctions, but as mixologists you often beg, steal and borrow from other mixologists,' says Anderson Stroup, 39. She credits her Aunt Gail in Texas, who is always on the lookout for fresh ideas for Twist. “My aunt is important to me. She sends me some new (cocktail) recipes every month from Fort Worth.'
Anderson Stroup brought out her favorite kitchen appliance, the mini food processor, which she uses every day. She used it to make the persimmon puree with Grand Marnier. The average day of bar prep includes getting all of the ingredients ready in the professional company kitchen. Anderson Stroup has a reverence for fresh ingredients.
Anderson Stroup says she fell into this business almost by chance.
“I was actually working for a nonprofit public health group, and I was in charge of fundraisers and had to figure out how to bring alcohol into these events. And pretty soon other organizations were calling me on how to do this, so I saw there was a need,' said Anderson Stroup. “I started six and a half years ago, and I have all the licenses and insurance that’s needed when you’re serving alcohol. It’s not an easy process and there’s actually a lot of responsibility that comes with it.'
Some of that responsibility includes having bartenders and servers cutting people off nicely when they’ve had too much.
But overall, Twist is about having fun and helping people celebrate milestone events, such as birthdays and weddings.
In the cocktail lab kitchen Anderson Stroup and Curley are constantly working on some new drink.
“For every wedding we do, we create a signature drink for the bride and groom,' said Curley, who says they served 69 weddings this past summer. “We interview the groom and bride, and then we create their special drink based on the information. And we call it He Said, She Said Drink.'
Last year Twist served 170 parties; this year Anderson Stroup expects that number to be even higher. To handle the demand, Anderson Stroup added another component, which acts strictly as a bartending service called Olive. She hopes to expand Olive to Eugene, Medford and Klamath Falls in the coming years. The difference for Twist is it’s full-service bar catering, which means Anderson Stroup comes with a fully loaded van with everything the party will need.
Anderson Stroup says drinks come from being open to new ideas, new flavors and new possibilities.
“I call this one the Plum-Flower Cosmo. It has hibiscus (flower) nectar, which I make myself,' said Anderson Stroup. “I discovered hibiscus when we were in Mexico. … I brought a whole bag of flowers home with me and was sitting here sipping some of this yummy tea that I made from the dried flowers, and I got this inspiration for this Cosmo and a Hibiscus Margarita.'
Anderson Stroup says not only does the drink have to taste just right, but it also has to have eye appeal.
She explains this Cosmo has a deep red color that sinks to the bottom of the martini stem, giving the drink a layered look.
In tribute to James Bond, Anderson Stroup showed the difference between shaken and stirred.
“When you shake a martini, you get these ice crystals. It’s almost like a slushy; that’s how Bond likes it,' said Anderson Stroup, as she poured the martini into a glass from a silver martini shaker.
The stirred martini leaves the drink unadulterated.
A quart-size canning jar does the trick for Anderson Stroup’s roasted pecan-infused bourbon.
She opened the lid and sniffed the liquors. “Oh, this smells so good. Let’s have some,' she said as she poured two fingers worth of the dark amber liquid into beautifully intricate crystal shot glasses, which came from her grandmother.
Curley jokes that the bourbon looks like hillbilly moonshine, but in the antique crystal shot glasses, the infused bourbon takes on a richer character. She infused the pecans for about 24 hours, but in that short time the bourbon embodied the flavors of the flavorful nut.
Anderson Stroup wasn’t done yet. She took a mug and filled it with a shot of the infused bourbon and poured hot spiced apple cider over it, then finished it with a dollop of whipped cream.
“I call this one Bourbon-Pecan Cider,' said Anderson Stroup. “This would be great after skiing. I have this dream that I go up to Meissner (Sno-park) and open the doors of the van and start serving drinks to all these skiers. Wouldn’t that be great?'
If you’re not invited to one of the many New Year’s Eve parties Twist will be working tonight, don’t worry — Anderson Stroup shared some of her recipes with us.
What are the three ingredients you’ll always find in your home kitchen cupboard or refrigerator?
My husband fishes, so we almost always have albacore tuna or halibut in the freezer. We also hunt mushrooms in the spring and fall and keep a stock of chanterelles in the freezer. And one of my favorites is our home-canned tomatoes that we source from the Valley.
What is a favorite home meal you like to prepare?
I love making large pots of homemade chili or investing the time into my mom’s recipe for spaghetti sauce.
If I am drinking something other than wine at home, I will make a Bloody Mary. My bloodies are fantastic. (It’s also a secret recipe.)
What is your favorite home appliance in your kitchen?
I love my mini food processor. It is great for salsas and salad dressings or to quickly mince vegetables. And it cleans up in a snap.
Conversely, is there an appliance you disdain having in a kitchen?
The waffle iron. Really, who wants to clean that thing?
What is your favorite hand tool you use in your kitchen, other than a knife?
I have my grandmother’s vegetable peeler. The new peelers do not hold a candle to the ones made decades ago.
What is your spice of choice?
I like heat, so I’ll reach for chili powder, cayenne, curry, cumin and/or a great blend like Rik’s Rubs Chipotle. But my favorite spice is a blend of dried hot peppers from my uncle Jim’s garden. He sends me a new jar every Christmas, and each year the flavor profile changes. I love that!
What restaurants do you enjoy most in Central Oregon?
We are fortunate to have so many great restaurants, but the ones I love to return to are 5 Fusion, 900 Wall, and Brother John’s.
What is your favorite room to eat meals in?
Although it is null and void in the winter months, we love to eat on the back patio. Otherwise I like to be cozied up to the fire in our dining area.
Does your family have regular meals together?
My husband and I are generally able to sit down and eat dinner together at least four times a week. The nature of my business often keeps me away during the evenings, but Adam is pretty great about having something waiting for me when I get home. And “our girls,' Bonnie and Felipa (our adorable mutts), look forward to pizza night — they wait patiently for the crusts.
Best meals you’ve ever eaten in your life?
That’s a tossup between the street food in Bangkok (the Pad Thai and Som Tam can’t be beat!) and the fresh lobster from the beach shacks in Honduras.
What is a guilty food pleasure?
Pickle juice. I drink it right from the jar.
What is your ideal dream home kitchen?
My dream kitchen would have two sinks, a built-in espresso maker and enough counter space to practice yoga on.
What do you like to do outside of your kitchen?
My husband and I love to play outdoors. Whether that is hiking, biking, kayaking, skiing or camping, we love to be in the woods.
If you couldn’t be a chef, or in the food and beverage industry, what profession would you have chosen?
All of my career paths have chosen me. It’s not about what I would choose, but about what the universe is going to put in front of me next.
— Reporter: firstname.lastname@example.org