My grandma would’ve dug this place.
Sure, she enjoyed a good drink as much as the next person — especially if the next person was my grandpa. But her appreciation for The Citizen in Worcester would really come from the fact that she was a true Old School grandma.
Pillsbury didn’t own an inch of space in her kitchen. She could make her own (and far superior) crescent rolls from scratch, thank you very much. Potato salad from the deli? Please. She had her own homemade recipe — one that made all other versions of the dish seem pretty weak.
There’s a similar philosophy at Citizen.
“People want to drink the way they eat.” said bar manager and bartender Dave Delaney. “In short, that means people are looking for something fresh, local and in season,” he said.
Behind the bar, that translates into making homemade syrups and using simple, pure ingredients. Delaney said it’s part of a cocktail renaissance as people are rediscovering some of the classic drinks — some of them over 100 years old — being made true to their roots.
This involves breaking a drink down to its basic parts, making quality choices for the ingredients, and then mixing them so the flavors can interact as they were intended, he said. It’s a contrast to the world of pre-made mixes that are designed primarily to cover the taste of bad spirits, he added.
For example, in Delaney’s quest to create drinks like Millionaire of Havana and Ticket to Paradise, he saw he needed Swedish Punsch. Rather than ordering someone else’s off-the-shelf version, he kept experimenting until he had concocted his own Swedish Punsch formula. His recipe is a process that takes six hours, and it’s all to make just one of the ingredients used in his cocktails.
And for people packing their own cocktail recipes, Citizen has the tools to accommodate: eyedroppers, metal jiggers, spirits approved by the barâ€™s tasting panel and even a leather bound book for customers to document the specifics of their individual drinks.
Dubbed the Citizen’s Assembly, the book is a throwback to recipe books kept in the bars of yesteryear. Kevin Ludy, the beverage director for Niche Hospitality, Citizen’s parent company, started the book when Citizen opened nearly two years ago.
Of course, people can and do write anything in the book besides recipes, Ludy noted. A given page is as likely to contain a recipe as it is a proclamation of love Travis, referring to Citizen’s mixologist Travis Doyle. But Ludy wouldn’t have it any other way. The book is getting used exactly the way he wanted.
For those customers not quite sure what they want to drink, Ludy, Doyle and Delaney bring plenty of creativity to the table to mix up something appropriate.
“I like to ask, “What kind of day did you have?” or ˜What kind of mood are you in?” Delaney said. “The drink from yesterday might not work today.”
The key is balance — not too bitter, not too sweet, he said.
One of his creations, Bitter in Brazil, won Delaney a trip to New Orleans last summer to Tales of the Cocktail, an international cocktail industry celebration. Delaney’s drink is a variation of Caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink, he said, adding he wanted “put a little spice in it.”
This was the drink I had to try.
Delaney carefully mixed Cacha, Cointreau and Punt e Mes, setting each bottle on the bar for me to see. He also added ice, bitters and an orange peel that he first carefully wiped around the rim of the glass before placing it the drink.
The orange’s subtle smell and taste got a boost from the Cointreau. Then the punch of the Cacha and Punt e Mes kicked in. I’m not sure, but I thought I got a very faint flavor of whiskey, which Delaney said could have come from the bitters. Or he may have been politely humoring my inability to isolate all the distinct tastes in the drink.
Bitter in Brazil definitely achieves his goal of balancing and blending the worlds of bitter and sweet, with a succession of flavors competing for the taste buds attention.
When mixing a cocktail, “I try to make it as multi-dimensional as possible,” Delaney said.
I suddenly had a craving for my grandma’s crescent rolls. Wherever she is, I’m pretty sure she approves of Delaney’s work.
Written by Jeff Haynes
Jeff has been writing and photographing for a variety of publications since 1995. His work has covered a wide range of topics such as art, sports, politics, real estate, human interest, business and the environment. In addition, his photography includes portraiture, promotional work for various artists, and fine art imagery seen in shows around New England.
He is also a fan of all good things to eat and drink. It’s a habit — addiction, perhaps — that he attempts to feed daily.
“The magazine looks GREAT! The articles are amazing. I’ve been getting tons of calls about the pasta article [I wrote for the Fall issue] already. I’m happy to write for you if you ever need content again. Thanks.” –Chef Chris Rovezzi, owner of Rovezzi’s Ristorante, Sturbridge, MA
“I just spent an hour reading the second issue of Foodies magazine and I’m not done yet! The beautiful images, well-written articles, and pleasing layout make Foodies a cover-to-cover read with something I know your advertisers will appreciate–a long shelf life. Already looking forward to the next issue!” –Joe Klimavich, Klimavich Communication, Sturbridge, MA
“It is really a beautiful and very interesting magazine. The “Pizza Wars” article was especially clever. It’s a fine a magazine as any other of its genre.” –Monsignor Rocco Piccolomini, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Worcester, MA
“Thanks to the new issue of Foodies, every day is pizza day at the office!” Robert Chevalier, Publisher of Bride & Groom Magazine
Vino, Arte dell Uomo
Translated as wine, the art of man, this is a proclamation of Marcello Zaccagnini wine lover, art enthusiast and impassioned, incorrigible philosopher of all things culture and all things good.
Marcello is the son of Ciccio Zaccagnini and together the two Abruzzesi viticulturists created Sallis Castrum Winery in 1977.
Before their oenological endeavor, Ciccio and Marcello sold grapes to wine makers throughout Italy’s Abruzzo region. As the grape vending business slowed in the late 70s, Marcello began to direct his efforts to the slow art of making wine. Thus Sallis Castrum Winery was born and since, they have crafted wines of remarkable quality and value.
Of course, we would have never known this were it not for Marcello’s urge in 1984 to begin exporting the nectars of Abruzzo. Sallis Castrum is nestled near the Italian National Park of Abruzzo and surrounded by the foothills of the Apennine Mountains. Its existence is a picturesque juxtaposition of the old and new, the ancient and modern, the romantic and commercial. In fact, much of the property sits on sloping hillsides, dotted with strategically with sculptures that are visible for miles, or kilometri, of course.
The art on the grounds is undoubtedly modern and holds a particular significance to Marcello for a multitude of reasons. One being his love of nature and respect for the Abruzzi region, however, his heart is especially belongs to those pieces created by his beloved son
The Cultivator’s Mindset
Marcello is not a winemaker, but rather a thinker and cultivator of goodness. His mindset was simple, but not very common: Give to that which you want to grow. Cultivate, and you will reap.
His desire was pure as the lands surrounding him: Create and provide wonderful and attainable wines of character, history, and lineage for those who may not be as fortunate as he, those who haven’t been blessed by Abruzzo, her crisp, clean air, her fertile ground, and her organic and unspoiled yield.
Many Italians feel a connection to their terrain; however, Abruzzians have a particularly strong attachment to the regions bountiful lands. This bond holds a level of comfort and oneness with the land that all nativi appear to possess. Sure, you’ve probably heard similar remarks about European life before, but to witness its existence in Abruzzo, where Italians find their livelihood in the land is another matter.
Were he to attempt wine making himself, Marcello knew he could not do the grapes growing about him any justice despite his passion and determination as a farmer. Instead, he sought out the natural abilities of his cousin Concezio, who helped Marcello and his father refine their talents as oenologists through education and practice.
Eventually, the respect and diligence that Ciccio, Marcello and Concezio showed madre terra began to pay off. Not only were the grapes coming to fruition, but the winemaking process was also yielding reasonable wines. Young Marcello, however, refused to settle. He wanted to ensure that the greatness coming forth from the vines translated into the bottle. Unafraid, he invested greatly into the equipment necessary to guaranty his homage to the montepulciano and trebbiano grapes for which Abruzzo is known.
That was over 30 years ago and with Concezio at his right hand, Marcello has consistently been producing wines of dignity and distinction and, as he likes to say, they get better and more affordable all the time.
Wines of Distinction
Together, Marcello and Concezio have created a mark of oenological greatness in virtually every price category, particularly among $10 to $15 wines. Imported by Massachusetts’s distributor Rudi & Son Wine Importers, Sallis Castrum wines are available in many cities and towns from Lenox to Boston.
2007 La Botte dell Abate
Looking back on many Zaccagnini creations, one of particular interest comes to mind. The 2007 La Botte dell Abate, a marvelous Montepulciano d’Abruzzo Riserva boasting the Papal seal of the Vatican, although what really matters is inside the bottle. It’s nothing short of liquid luxury and only sets you back $12.
At first taste, it shows an abundance of full, rich, dried cherry fruit, followed by leathery notes and nuances of smoky cured meat at the mid-palate. A subtly sweet herb quality lingers into the softly tannic finish, which is accented by more dried cherry and berry fruits. La Botte is a Riserva wine, which means it is barrel-aged for a little over a year in large oak casks, which give it that nice, spicy fragrance and softer tannic profile.
Its dryness may be typical of the regions other Montepulciano wines, but La Botte is most certainly in a class by itself. Perfect for any red wine lover.
If you’re after a pricier venture, try San Clemente, Zaccagnini’s flagship red. Concezio offers San Clemente in a Burgundy style bottle, which accurately reflects the wine’s French Rhone characteristicsâ€”spicier, brighter fruit, longer finish, crisper acidity and more food-friendly than many other big reds.
To its credit, San Clemente Riserva is a fabulous, jammy, focused, and balanced Italian red that rivals the likes of Piedmont’s Barolo and Tuscany’s Brunello di Montalcino . This make may not be for everyone, but if you like richness and complexity with ample fruit, San Clemente is for you. And at only $30, you can bowl everyone over without over spending.
Written by Domenic Mercurio, Jr.
Domenic Mercurio, AKA The Wine Guy, is a broadly experienced sommelier, having traveled far and wide for his experience. Known for being able to carefully craft a taste experience precisely to the taster, Domenic is a wine expert, and entertainer.
Major Beer Category: Ale
Major Style Category: Stout
Sub Style Category: Milk Stout
What Is A Stout? A direct descendant of the Porter style originally the mixture of three different beers and formally developed by Ralph Harwood who developed single beer that mimicked the flavor and Daniel Wheeler who created a unique kiln for creating black malt these beers are brewed with a select roasted barley rather than a black roasted malt. The name €œstout comes from the creamier, richer, roastier, stronger version of the original Porter described above. The addition of the word €œstout to Porter making it a Stout Porter has since dropped leaving us with the lone word to describe this beer.
What Is A Milk Stout? Using the brewing methods of the traditional Stout, this beer is distinct in that it is brewed with lactose which is unfermentable by beer yeast. The lactose helps to enrich the sweetness and creaminess of the beer.
Our Choice: Left Hand Milk Stout Longmont, Colorado (www.lefthandbrewing.com); 12 oz 6-pack
Why we chose this style: Have you ever had a chocolate covered banana? With hints of sweet chocolate and subtle nutty notes the beer adds a dimension to the bananas you won’t find in your local grocer. The creaminess, sweetness and silky characteristics of this beer delicately balance the texture and mouth feel of the bananas foster.
Where Can You Should Find It In A 6-pack: KJ Baarons, Mass Liquors, Austin Liquors, Julio’s Liquors
Where Can You Should Find It On Draft or In The Bottle: The Dive Bar, The Boynton, Peppercorns, The Horseshoe Pub, Loft 266 Bar & Lounge, Sweet
***Note: This beer may not always be available at the above locations at all times.***
Written by Matt Webster “ Supreme Chancellor of Beer”
Matt Webster is a craft beer enthusiast, educator, event goer, blogger, restaurant adviser, private dinner consultant, celebrity video show host and above all, proudly passionate about all things beer. With nearly a decade of professional beer experience, Matt is known as the Supreme Chancellor of Beer.