Alexander Valley Bar (@ Medlock Ames, Healdsburg)
During last weekend’s scorcher, my visitors and I spent the heat of the evening north of Healdsburg in the very chill Alexander Valley Bar operated by Medlock Ames.
First, a stroll through the organic, edible landscape to check-out the fragrant herbs, vegetables, and fruits that flavor the seasonal cocktail program.
At 5pm, the sun-lit Medlock Ames tasting room closes its doors for the night. The Alexander Valley Bar opens for business and the neon “cocktail” sign shines red. The bar is tucked into in a back corner of the building. Hidden from the street by a wooden screen, walking through the unmarked entrance feels like stepping into a speakeasy.
We took three stools at the corner of the bar counter where we could watch the lady mixologists at work. There’s also a divan with upholstered chairs for lounging or a central table with these interesting suspended seats.
On the bar, bouquets of herbs, fresh ginger, and berries. We also spied jars filled with homemade preserves.
The drinks menu details the ingredients in the house cocktails. As interesting as all of them sounded, I was even more delighted at the $10 price tag, a modest amount in a world where cocktails have crept up to $14 and often do not live up to the price. Because it was hard to decide, we just started at the top and worked our way down.
To start, Oh La Li called my name. 10 Cane rum, garden olallieberries, torn basil, fresh lime and blackberry simple syrup. Intensely herbal from the basil, the sweetness was quite understated turning what sounds like a fruity and sweet drink into something far more savory and tangy.
Dark and Stormy was my second call, falling under the suggestion of the ginger root displayed on the bar. Concocted extra ginger-y at my request, this could cure whatever ails you.
I also had a sip of my friends’ Gin Simmons, Rye Knot? and Steve’s Summer Thyme Martini. All lovely. The one drink that fell out for us was the St Slivovits which was less assertive and more in the champagne cocktail genre.
The Sparkling Pimm’s Cup and Feijoa Splash will have to wait for another day. I’ll be checking back as the growing season progresses for additions to the seasonal drinks menu. During the summer, the bar hosts a free summer concert series on Sundays with visiting food trucks.
Alexander Valley Bar
Open daily from 5pm
The bar is a cool spot. My stepdaughter had her wedding rehearsal dinner at M-A July 1st last year. Given that it was 100 degrees or so that day, ice cold gin martinis was about all I was interested in.
This Sunday I finally made it over to the free summer concert. The garden and lawn setting nestled up against the vineyards is so gorgeous in the early evening light.
And I learned that The Green Grocer will be set up here every other Sunday. Chef Joe's gastronomy and AV Bar's cocktails are as good as it gets.
I had the shrimp & slaw, $12. The plate starts with an exclamation point of homemade Sun Gold orange-colored ketchup painted down. Then a pile of lightly dressed purple cabbage, shaved fennel, wedges of perfectly ripe nectarines, and kaiware. On top, four fat shrimp griddled on the flat top.