Archive of ‘Finger Lakes’ category

Krooked Tusker Distillery

September is one of the months where we typically schedule a vacation. Usually the weather is still pleasant, and in normal years, the kids have gone back to school and aren’t hanging around where we want to play tourist. Our original plans for the week we had off was to go to San Francisco. But in the 11 months between booking the vacation and actually taking the vacation, the world exploded. And then the West Coast started on fire. So in the end, it worked out that we couldn’t go cross country, and were forced to stay in our own state.

We had been looking forward to spending some of our time in Napa Valley and sampling California wine, so when it came time to decide what we were going to do, we stuck to the wine theme and spent vacation in the Finger Lakes in NY. I’ve posted about the area before, and we go every summer to see the goats, but this time we wanted to explore some of the areas we don’t typically visit – namely Keuka Lake. We spent 6 nights in the Finger Lakes area, each night in a different town, and on Saturday our friends came down to join us in Penn Yan. After a quick lunch we drank our way south to Hammondsport, visiting several wineries and breweries, and one distillery – Krooked Tusker.

A PSA: Due to covid, and everything being limited, many of the wineries are requiring reservations for tastings. This impacted us a little bit, because a few of the places we wanted to visit were booked. There are so many wineries in the area though, that it didn’t matter that much for us. But just be aware, if you are intending to do some wine tasting, and you have a specific destination in mind, make a reservation.

Krooked Tusker is a distillery on the west side of Keuka lake, outside Hammondsport. They have a nice big covered deck area, and a huge lawn with chairs and games to play. They offer a variety of spirits including a standard vodka as well as infused flavors, corn whiskies, gin and aged bourbons. When we sat down they gave us a cocktail menu to peruse, as well as an option for a flight of straight spirits. One thing not on the menu? A Bloody Mary. We ordered and were enjoying the patio when I spotted a Bloody Mary at another table. Of course, I had to try it.

Krooked Tusker’s every day Bloody

Their standard single Bloody Mary is served with 2 olives in what looks like a sippy cup haha. All their drinks on the patio are served in plastic with lids for safety. But wait…the waitress told us that on Sundays they have a Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar! It was Saturday…we were staying the night in the area…I had no choice but to insist we return the next day for the Bloody Bar.

Build your own Bloody menu

Check out those options! With 4 different mixes, plus their different spirit options, you really can get whatever flavor profile that you want. Add in the garnishes and voila!

Krooked Tusker BYOB

I opted for the horseradish vodka, which I also had the day before, and the classic Bloody mix. I am assuming the mix they used is a Powell and Mahoney mix, since they sell it in their store, but I am not sure. I added in Worcestershire, more horseradish, dill pickles, pickled garlic, cherry peppers, beets, bacon and shrimp. I don’t normally opt for shrimp but it was calling to me.

Krooked Tusker BYOB

The cocktail had a great flavor, if a tad sweet. It had a light spice level that builds. I was a little surprised that there weren’t additional spice options to add to your base mix, like Tabasco or Frank’s, or a dry spice to mix in or add to the rim. If like me, you didn’t opt for an already spicy mix, and/or don’t like horseradish, there was nothing to add in.

I am intrigued by the Ginger/Lemon vodka, and think that could be a delicious option for a future visit. I don’t usually go for whiskey, but I’m assuming the Hellhound Hooch is spicy, which might be great too.

Yes, it was raining, as is typical for our vacations.

All this can be yours for only $12, Sundays only. They offer an early bird special from 11am-noon, where you can get 2 for $20. So either drink fast, or bring a friend but definitely check it out.

Deerhead Lakeside Restaurant

It’s July, and that means baby goats at Lively Run Dairy! So we made ANOTHER trip out to Cayuga Lake to visit the goats, and taste some wines. (We skipped the 15 scoops of ice cream this time!) The goats were awesome, of course, and there was even a baby that had been born an hour before we got there!

Mama and her 1 HOUR old baby!

It was a wonderful time, and I highly recommend it….again…. 🙂

We visited 3 wineries, Thirsty Owl Winery, Hosmer Winery, and Buttonwood Winery. After our tasting at the last one, we opened up our picnic lunch on their covered porch, as it was raining, and they didn’t mind people hanging out even though they were closing. Another couple was enjoying some wine on the patio as well, and it turns out they own the Deerhead Lakeside Restaurant in Seneca Falls.

After finishing our meal, chatting with them, and finding out they offered a bloody mary we decided to stop by and try it out. Taylor was behind the bar at the restaurant, which has a great view of the lake out the back of the dining area. We told her owners Craig and his wife (I’m sorry I forgot your name!) promised she’d make me a good drink, and she took on the challenge.

Deerhead bloody mary!

Served in a stemless hurricane type glass, the drink had a spiced rim and was garnished with celery, lemon, cherry tomato and freshly cooked shrimp. It had a very tomato-y taste, and was very spicy! Taylor may have used a pepper vodka in it – I remember it being discussed but I’m not sure if it was used – and she added horseradish and lemon to compliment the shrimp. It was a tasty offering, from a menu that had many good looking drinks. If we lived closer, or didn’t have to drive anywhere, we’d drink the menu.

Garnish game!

Since we had just eaten our picnic sandwiches, we weren’t hungry and didn’t try any of their food but the menu had many creative looking dishes, as well as standard plates. I look forward to visiting it again in the future, on another trip to see the goats surely!

Red Dove Tavern

On vacation 2 years ago we visited the Finger Lakes, and one of the places we stopped was Lively Run Dairy on Cayuga Lake. It is a goat dairy, and their tour which included a cheese tasting, and time to meet and play with the goats, was one of the best things I’ve ever done. This time on vacation, I wanted to go visit the goats again, so we drove out to the dairy and met up with our friend Jenn to have some cheese, and introduce her to the goats.

GOATS!!!!!!!!!

Oh. My. God. I love goats so much!! They only had 2 babies at the time we were there, who were 14 days old and 3 days old. They are expecting the majority of their babies to be born in July, so they should be expecting a return visit from me! All the goats were adorable and friendly, and I want to take them home!

Unfortunately, no farm animals other than chickens are allowed in my town, and I feel the goats would be sort of hard to hide when they end up jumping onto the garage roof for fun. I’ll have to settle for visiting, I guess 🙁

After the dairy, and before visiting some wineries, we needed to eat so we ventured to Cayuga Lake Creamery for some sandwiches and ice cream. The Creamery’s homemade ice cream is delicious, with about 30 produced at a time. It was hard to narrow down what we wanted to try, and noticed they offered a 5 flavor tasting dish for $10, so we decided to do that. We each got one so we could try as many flavors as possible, and then this happened….

Mistakes were made.

When it said “tasting” scoops, we didn’t think it would be 5 full size scoops!!! I was thinking melon baller sized scoops, or a little bigger. A few bites of each flavor, not this! We made a valiant effort, but all that ice cream defeated us. It made me sad, I hate wasting ice cream!

We journeyed back up Cayuga Lake to Geneva, by way of a few wineries and a local brewery, before getting some snacks at Red Dove Tavern.

Red Dove Bloody Mary

Garnished with a lime and olive, Red Dove uses a house made mix spiced with horseradish for heat. It was a tad sweet, with a good tomato flavor. Overall, a good outing, though for me it could have been a bit more spicy. Paired with their fried chick peas, we had a nice snack before saying good-bye to Jenn and heading back to Buffalo.

Until next time….GOATS!

Gaaaaahh!

Seneca Lake Vacation

Like I mentioned last post, J and I were on vacation, and decided to head down to the Finger Lakes to get away for a few days, try some wine, and do a bit of hiking in Watkins Glen. And like I mentioned, the weather was a bit crap, but we made the most of it and it ended up clearing up about mid way through day 2, and we had a great time.

The view from Lamoreaux Landing, the view from our rental, and sunset on Seneca Lake

The view from Lamoreaux Landing, the view from our rental, and sunset on Seneca Lake

I lost track of the number of different wineries along Seneca and Cayuga lakes that we stopped at but we also stopped at 2 distilleries – Finger Lakes Distilling and Myer Farm Distillers. NY state law only allows 3 samples of spirits per day, so while they both had a big selection of spirits to try, we had to choose what we wanted carefully. J stuck mostly with whiskeys and bourbons, and I stayed with vodka and gin, even though I don’t drink gin.

Finger Lakes Distilling would ask how you usually drank each spirit and would make you a mini cocktail in a shot glass to get a feel for what it would taste like in a non-sampling situation. So when I said I drink my vodka in a Bloody Mary our sampler guy explained that their Vintner vodka was made with grapes, and this gave it a taste that wasn’t very suitable for a Bloody Mary, but that they made one with their whiskey if I wanted to try that. Sure thing! He made my little Bloody, complete with a bacon salt rim, and it was pretty decent but strange. I’m not a whiskey fan, so I can’t say I’d order it that way, but he was right about their vodka not being right for a Bloody either.

Which leads me to the only full size Bloody Mary I had during the trip. On our last day we stopped in Watkins Glen to go to Wildflower Cafe/Rooster Fish Pub/Rooster Fish Brewing. Rooster Fish is a craft brewery (of which we went to a few) with a flight on offer inside Wildflower which J wanted to try. He got a flight, and I got their Mary Mary Mary.

IMG_20150603_120708395

$10 and served in a pint glass with a lemon, lime and olive garnish and bacon salt rim, they usually made the cocktail using a spicy mix, their Tripel Witch Belgian beer and Vintner Vodka, however they were out of the beer, so they used their Summer Sky hefeweizen instead. The mix had visible horseradish for spice and flavor which was not overwhelming. As the sample guy at Finger Lakes Distilling said, the vodka has a strong grape taste which along with the beer made for a very sweet flavor, with a smoky hint from the bacon salt rim. It wasn’t bad, but it was different. I definitely would follow his lead and avoid using Vintner vodka for a Bloody, though it was quite good in the mini cocktail he made for me in our tasting – cranberry bitters with cranberry juice and vodka.

And now for something completely different. The best $7 I’ve ever spent.

IMG_20150603_145518478 copy

GOATS! I love goats! We found a brochure for Lively Run Dairy and just had to go. Lively Run is a goat farm, dairy and cheesery with tours and tastings every day. The tour runs at 2pm for $7 and includes a cheese tasting, but we were late. We were also the only people there, so even though it was 2:15, J asked if we could do the tour and they let us. Oh. My. God. They show you a video about the cheese making process, and then you get to go meet the goats, and depending on the time of year that could include bottle feeding baby goats. Seriously, it was the greatest. There were 5 babies still taking a bottle, and a whole group more who swarmed us anyway, it was awesome. If you are in the Seneca/Cayuga lake area, you have to go. The cheese was good too!