What to choose, what to choose? We know it’s hard when there’s so many tempting options on our beer, wine, bourbons and single malt scotches and specialty cocktails and martinis lists. We think they’re all tops—we curated those lists, after all—but when push comes to shove, our bartenders will steer you toward these three must-try libations: The Papa Dino, sangria and limoncello.
Why? Dig into a nostalgic favorite and why made-fresh-on-site is always best (plus a few trade secrets). Those tidbits make our top three irresistible.
“Our Papa Dino is a sentimental favorite,” said bartender Dawn Hopkins. “Ann Kolenick, our owner, named this Manhattan-with-a-twist drink after her grandfather. It’s top-shelf bourbon, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters aged for four weeks in our very own oak barrel. This gives it oaky, woodsy notes. Our other twist? We add a touch of cherry juice—because that’s the way Dino liked it.”
2. Peach & Berry Sangria
Our award-winning sangria—made fresh every day, of course—hails from summer’s best and is a crowd-pleaser all year long. It was named the Best of the Main Line & Western Suburbs’ Best Sangria 2015. Our mixologists take not-too-sweet moscato and add a splash of peach schnapps and a splash of triple sec, and top it off with club soda, fresh berries and orange slices.
“When peaches are in season, we also add those for a super-summery surprise,” Dawn explained. “Our customers love it no matter the season because when the weather is dicey, our sangria’s bright flavors bring them back to summertime and thoughts of vacations.”
The story goes that at one point, The Gables at Chadds Ford was purchasing customer favorite limoncello. Enter Dawn, her Italian heritage and her favorite limoncello recipe.
“I’m Italian, so I said to Ann, ‘Why buy it when I can make it?’” Dawn said. “Why is ours better? I’ll tell you the secret: I put love into it. No one else knows how to do that.”
Truth be told, there is a secret, but Dawn’s keeping that under wraps. She is willing to share that she never uses Everclear or grain alcohol, but instead lovingly soaks lemon peels in high-quality vodka. First, she peels 40 lemons (40!). Next, she takes three, half-gallon glass containers, fills them with vodka and divides the lemon peels among them. Those beautiful, soon-to-be limoncello containers sit on the bar for all to see for four days. On day five, when the vodka shows a pale, yellow color, Dawn removes all the peels and adds her version of just-made simple syrup.
“I won’t tell you my secret, but I will let you in on this: it’s not done yet,” Dawn teased. “Some people drink it after adding the simple syrup, but not at The Gables. It needs to go in the refrigerator for 24 hours. Then, it’s done. Pending the best part—a taste test!”
Dawn keeps the finished product in the fridge so it stays cold, then serves it neat or uses it in cocktails like our raspberry lemon martini that marries limoncello with Stoli Razberi and a splash of club soda, and garnished with a lemon slice.
“The key to everything is ‘local,’ and we’re all used to hearing that,” Dawn said. “We take it seriously, from the veggies and herbs in our rooftop garden to our limoncello. It shows in our award-winning food and our drinks, and our locals—our customers—appreciate it. We wouldn’t have it any other way at The Gables!”
Come visit Dawn and our other friendly and talented barkeeps, and soak up our rustic ambience with an intriguing beverage paired with our Southern-inspired cuisine. Remember to hit our front patio and relax by the fire pits during mild weather. Our covered patio is open a bit longer, and our inviting bar and lounge area and cozy dining room await you all year long.
The Gables at Chadds Ford is nestled in the heart of the historic Brandywine Valley. Our combination of fresh seasonal cuisine, rustic yet elegant charm and enchanting outdoor dining will keep you coming back time and time again. The Gables is also the perfect venue to host your next special event, whether you are planning a wedding, rehearsal dinner, baby shower or corporate event.
Photos: The Gables at Chadds Ford