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The Nolen’s The Muse: home bottled inspiration

“It’s a take on a cobbler-type dessert put into a short, sharp sour-style cocktail.”

Benjamin Burch
Benjamin Burch

Many of us thought we would get around to learning drink recipes during quarantine but instead defaulted to another can of hard seltzer. Bartender Ben from The Nolen rooftop bar in downtown San Diego wants to keep craft cocktails in the game, so he and his team came up with a plan after an abrupt notice to shut down in December.

Place

Nolen

453 Sixth Avenue, San Diego

“We wanted a way to keep The Nolen in people’s immediate experience during this period. For people who might have been here drinking, were we not shut down.” Talk of selling take-home kits quickly turned to bottling their signature cocktails. “I thought, if it’s a kit, then you’re dealing with things like citrus that have very, very short shelf lives. Or, you’re now having to go out and buy citrus — and are people actually going to buy a lemon and fresh squeeze it?”

Ben was concerned about variables that could compromise the integrity of the drink they had thoughtfully created. “I just don’t think that produces a win — for us, or for people drinking Nolen drinks at home. And it’s crucial that both parties win. They’re spending good money and they want something that’s awesome; we want to be producing experiences that are memorable, that people want to repeat or that people want to talk about.”

The Muse is now one of the inspirations in a line of The Nolen @ Home bottled cocktails. “It’s a take on a cobbler-type dessert put into a short, sharp sour-style cocktail.” A combination of seasonal flavors balances lighter, brighter notes of pear liqueur with rich notes from angostura bitters and mulled Marsala syrup. “We take sweet Marsala wine, an Italian dessert wine, mull it with pumpkin spice and then sweeten it with brown sugar.”

Ben contends “Pumpkin spice is objectively delicious, but it’s gotten a bad wrap because of Starbucks. It’s a matter of how you’re applying it, what you’re doing with it.” Call it his bartender brand, “I love doing that kind of stuff! I’m really big on taking things people like to poo-poo and using them in awesome ways.”

One final component gave life to the drink. “I had originally planned to go with Cognac but I was a little concerned that it would make the drink too rich and deep. So from there, it was ‘how do I brighten the drink?’” Gin was the answer. “It’s got a little bit of its own spice and depth to it from the juniper. So that made it the natural go-to for me, and then it just worked. I tried it and said “Oh, wow, that’s fantastic! Done!’”

The Nolen's The Muse
  • The Nolen’s
  • The Muse
  • * 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • * ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • * ½ ounce mulled marsala
  • * ¾ ounce pear liqueur
  • * 1 ½ ounce dry gin
  • Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and pour into glass and garnish with star anise
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Benjamin Burch
Benjamin Burch

Many of us thought we would get around to learning drink recipes during quarantine but instead defaulted to another can of hard seltzer. Bartender Ben from The Nolen rooftop bar in downtown San Diego wants to keep craft cocktails in the game, so he and his team came up with a plan after an abrupt notice to shut down in December.

Place

Nolen

453 Sixth Avenue, San Diego

“We wanted a way to keep The Nolen in people’s immediate experience during this period. For people who might have been here drinking, were we not shut down.” Talk of selling take-home kits quickly turned to bottling their signature cocktails. “I thought, if it’s a kit, then you’re dealing with things like citrus that have very, very short shelf lives. Or, you’re now having to go out and buy citrus — and are people actually going to buy a lemon and fresh squeeze it?”

Ben was concerned about variables that could compromise the integrity of the drink they had thoughtfully created. “I just don’t think that produces a win — for us, or for people drinking Nolen drinks at home. And it’s crucial that both parties win. They’re spending good money and they want something that’s awesome; we want to be producing experiences that are memorable, that people want to repeat or that people want to talk about.”

The Muse is now one of the inspirations in a line of The Nolen @ Home bottled cocktails. “It’s a take on a cobbler-type dessert put into a short, sharp sour-style cocktail.” A combination of seasonal flavors balances lighter, brighter notes of pear liqueur with rich notes from angostura bitters and mulled Marsala syrup. “We take sweet Marsala wine, an Italian dessert wine, mull it with pumpkin spice and then sweeten it with brown sugar.”

Ben contends “Pumpkin spice is objectively delicious, but it’s gotten a bad wrap because of Starbucks. It’s a matter of how you’re applying it, what you’re doing with it.” Call it his bartender brand, “I love doing that kind of stuff! I’m really big on taking things people like to poo-poo and using them in awesome ways.”

One final component gave life to the drink. “I had originally planned to go with Cognac but I was a little concerned that it would make the drink too rich and deep. So from there, it was ‘how do I brighten the drink?’” Gin was the answer. “It’s got a little bit of its own spice and depth to it from the juniper. So that made it the natural go-to for me, and then it just worked. I tried it and said “Oh, wow, that’s fantastic! Done!’”

The Nolen's The Muse
  • The Nolen’s
  • The Muse
  • * 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • * ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • * ½ ounce mulled marsala
  • * ¾ ounce pear liqueur
  • * 1 ½ ounce dry gin
  • Pour ingredients into cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and pour into glass and garnish with star anise
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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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