A Strawberry Basil Gimlet, and a good read

Strawberry Basil Gimlet

Strawberry Basil Gimlet

Every year I wait for the arrival of the first batch of plump, sweet strawberries like a kid waiting for Santa to pay a visit down the chimney. Nothing signals the start of the spring/summer (what season is it when it’s 90 degrees in June, anyway?) growing season for me like strawberries. And I’d argue I get a better deal than a child on Christmas – the produce season in PA keeps on giving, week after week, month after month. I love Pennsylvania in any season, but from June through October – when each month brings a gift of a new selection of produce – I feel particularly lucky.

Sara Bozich, central PA celebrity and friend of the blog, asked me to suggest a summer drink and book “pairing.” I had my first pint of local strawberries sitting in my kitchen begging to be used, and an idea for a drink putzing around the back of my brain, so I figured this was the perfect opportunity to craft a cocktail that tasted like summer in PA.

Strawberry Basil Gimlet

Bright, fresh flavors from fresh ingredients

This strawberry basil gimlet beckons you out to the patio, suggests you pull up a chair in a bit of breezy shade, then convinces you to spend a few hours with it keeping company with a good read. (Not that I’d recommend TOO many hours with it…each drink does have 2 ounces of booze.)

To pair with the sweetness of spring strawberries and the refreshing tartness of a gimlet (gin and sweetened lime juice), I wanted something to balance the drink out. Basil is one of my favorite herbs to grow and use fresh, and just a few leaves add a nice herbal note that plays nicely with the strawberries. A few grinds of fresh black pepper finish everything off with just a little tickle in the back of the throat.

My strawberries came from Piney Mountain Orchard, my produce CSA. I’ve mentioned here before – I’m a big fan of the idea of Community Supported Agriculture, and Megan from Piney Mountain has been supplying my produce for the past few years. Piney Mountain is a small, family-run farm using sustainable growing practices to supply mostly veggies, some fruit, plus herbs and eggs to local consumers and markets. Each week I receive a new batch of fresh, locally grown produce. I can’t recommend Megan and the Piney Mountain CSA enough. You could probably still get in on this season if you wanted, and if not – she does do a winter CSA you could sign up for this fall.

Strawberry Basil Gimlet

Take this one out to the patio

My book pairing suggestion for Sara Bozich was The View from the Cheap Seats, a collection of short works of non-fiction from Neil Gaiman. Gaiman is one of my favorite writers. He usually works in the fantasy realm, and does a lot of graphic novels and children’s fiction. The View from the Cheap Seats is his first published collection of non-fiction, and I think it will be perfect to pick through this summer, consuming it in little bites. I was introduced to Gaiman as a team through his series of graphic novels The Sandman. (In particular, I was obsessed with the character Death, as I was myself a wanna-be goth freaky chick.) I’ve since read any number of his graphic novels as well as his fiction for both children and adults.

In addition to The View from the Cheap Seats, some standouts I’d recommend from Gaiman:

Pick up any one of those to read, shake up a strawberry basil gimlet, and try to tell me you don’t feel like a kid on a holiday.

Strawberry Basil Gimlet Recipe


5-6 fresh small strawberries, or 3 large
2 big basil leaves
3/4 oz. fresh lime juice
1/2 oz. simple syrup
A few turns fresh black pepper
2 oz. dry gin (I used Bluecoat)


Muddle the strawberries, basil, lime juice, simple syrup and black pepper in a cocktail shaker. Don’t be shy — you want the strawberries totally broken down and the basil well bruised.
Add the gin.
Fill the shaker at least half full with ice and give it a good shake.
Strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with another basil leaf, if you want to be fancy.

The Luxembourg: A Kumquat Rosemary Smash

The Luxembourg cocktail

The Luxembourg: a kumquat rosemary smash

Peak citrus season is coming to an end. And, unfortunately, I’ve marked citrus season with more spoiled citrus than citrus I’ve taken advantage of. I celebrated citrus season with: one spoiled bag of blood oranges, two ruined bags of Meyer lemons, and more penicillin produced by bad limes than I need to fight a year’s worth of infections.

One thing I didn’t waste though – some of the season’s last kumquats.

If you’ve never tried a kumquat – try to get your hands on some before the season runs it’s course! As someone described them to me recently, they are like the Sour Patch Kids of the fruit world. Tart and sweet, all in the same bite.

Sliced kumquats on a cutting board

Kumquats. Just like Sour Patch Kids.

I’d been pondering a cocktail made with kumquats and Bluecoat Gin (produced in Philly!) since a trip to Luxembourg City over the holidays. I hadn’t expected Luxembourg to be a gin mecca, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, the husband and I planned a tour through Germany, France, and Belgium. We were excited to spend our time in Paris sampling all the champagne we could, our time in Brussels seeking out obscure sour beers (no, we were not afraid of terrorist attacks), and our time in Weisbaden bonding with friends. Mapping that trip out, we realized it was obvious we had to stop in Luxembourg, if for nothing else than another check mark on our country tour. But when we arrived, we found that Luxembourg City was going through a gin & tonic phase that was inspiring!

At every trendy bar we hit in Luxembourg City (and there aren’t all that many – the city is on the small side), we were impressed by not just the varieties of gin, but also the variety of artisan tonics and fancy garnishes being served. One bar had easily 40 different gins, each with a unique garnish on display at the bar.

The cobalt bottle of the Philadelphia Distilling’s Bluecoat gin caught my eye. Since they came on the market a few years back, I’ve kept a bottle of Bluecoat in regular rotation on my gin shelf. During a chat with a Luxembourgish bartender, I found out that they serve the Bluecoat with a kumquat garnish.

ingredients for The Luxembourg

A few simple ingredients yields a tasty cocktail.

That came back to me this weekend, as I was thinking about celebrating what friends informed me was “national gin & tonic day.” I knew I had some Bluecoat on the shelf, and figured if I could find some kumquats it might be one of the last times this season I’d be able to make a drink involving both kumquats and Bluecoat (I was right – I got the last bunch of kumquats I could find at Wegmans.).

Inspired by a drink I’d had earlier in the weekend at Volt Restaurant, I decided I wanted to make a “smash.” Partly I thought it’d be pretty (it is), partly because I figured it would taste pretty good (right again).

The generally accepted definition of a “smash,” when it comes to cocktails, is a drink that involves:

  • a spirit
  • seasonal fruit
  • an herb
  • a sweetener
  • served over shaved or crushed ice.

I had the spirit (Bluecoat gin), and the seasonal fruit (kumquats). When it came to the herb, I thought that Aperol might complement the citrus notes of the kumquat, and realized I had a rosemary-infused Aperol sitting on the shelf (as one does). I had my herb. I knew I needed to muddle my kumquats with sugar to extract their juices and oils, thus I had my sweetener.

(As an aside, I think “my kumquat” needs to be my new all purpose pet name. “Let’s go get coffee, my kumquat!” “Thanks for taking care of that, my kumquat!” “You look adorable in that sweater, my kumquat!” Okay…I admit at some point – it gets weird…)

the beautiful cobalt blue Bluecoat gin bottle

My kumquat!

There’s nothing terribly complicated about this recipe, though some elements may sound intimidating. My recipe calls for rosemary-infused Aperol, yes. To be clear, if you use un-doctored Aperol, it will still be delicious. But if you want the infusion, it is no more complicated than taking a few springs of rosemary and sticking them in a bottle of Aperol for a few hours, up to overnight. You are going for a rosemary scent, not for a spirit tasting of wood.

To make the Luxembourg, you start by combining thickly sliced kumquats, the leaves from a sprig of rosemary, and sugar in your shaker. Muddle them until you have some juice filling the bottom of your shaker. If you don’t have juicy kumquats, you might want to add more to your muddle, until you can see at least a bit of juice moving around the bottom of your shaker.

After you are done muddling (when the kumquats have gone smooshy and you aren’t going to get any more juice out of them), add the Aperol, gin and some ice cubes, and give it a good shake. Strain into a tumbler full of shaved or crushed ice (I don’t know where people get shaved ice, but I can get crushed ice from my fridge). Throw in one last sprig of rosemary, for some scent, and there you go. A kumquat rosemary smash. The Luxembourg.

The Luxembourg: A Kumquat Rosemary Smash


  • 4-5 kumquats, sliced
  • leaves from 1 sprig of fresh rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 oz Bluecoat gin
  • 1/2 oz rosemary-infused Aperol
  • shaved or crushed ice
  • splash of club soda
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary to garnish


  1. Roughly slice 4-5 fresh kumquats.
  2. Muddle kumquat slices, rosemary leaves and sugar in a cocktail shaker.
  3. Add gin, Aperol and a handful of whole ice cubes to the shaker. Shake vigorously.
  4. Strain into a tumbler full of shaved or crushed ice.
  5. Top with a splash of club soda.
  6. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Well. Last post was a summer post about ice cream. And today we have a winter post about soup. I guess it is stating the obvious to say it’s been a while since my last post.

Pumpkin Curry Soup topped with peanuts, cilantro and Sriracha

So warming and yummy on a cold day.

I’m not going to waste our time with some long explanation and apology, Dear Reader. Life happens, as you know. Suffice to say, I hope to get back into the swing of things and post more regularly, so bear with me.

Now. Let’s talk pumpkin.

A local Pennsylvania baby pam pumpkin

Not just for Halloween!

This fall, I had an overabundance of little pumpkins hanging around the house, discarded after a Halloween celebration. I was determined not to let them go to waste. I was going to roast them up and turn them into something delicious.

I failed. They rotted. It was gross.

So when I paid a recent visit to Radish & Rye at the Broad Street Market, my local farmer’s market, and saw some baby pam pumpkins sitting there looking cute, I couldn’t help myself. I grabbed a few, along with an apple, some shallots and some peanut butter and set to soup making.

This recipe includes baby pam pumpkins, shallot, apple and peanut butter

Yes, it is possible to get yummy local produce in winter!

Because I got the ingredients from Radish & Rye, I know that they are locally produced and in the case of the veggies — sustainably grown. Radish & Rye Food Hub is a food stand that exclusively sells produce and products that are grown or made by local, small-scale family farmers and producers. Most of their produce is grown using organic farming methods. In the case of my pumpkins, they were sourced from the local organic Aaron Kanagy Farm in Mifflintown.

Radish & Rye carries great locally produced canned and dry goods. You can always count on Zimmerman Peanut Butter, a delicious local butter that I’ll likely dedicate a whole post to. They also carry local favorite Torchbearer Sauces, my favorite pickles in the world — Ep!c Pickles, coffee from Little Amps and more.

I never visit the Market without a stop at Radish & Rye. We get all our milk and other dairy from the Hub, sourced from Apple Valley Creamery. I also pick up my Piney Mountain Orchard vegetable CSA there, even in winter now that Megan added a winter share. Proprietors Dusty & Julie James are both incredibly nice and know their products really well. I often talk to them about how best to use their seasonal veggies.

Roast pumpkin right out of the oven

Let the pumpkins cool a few moments before you try to skin them.

I’d made curry soup with winter squash and root vegetables before with success, so I figured a curry-seasoned soup with pumpkin would turn out well. I wanted to add a little bit of sweetness without overdoing it or needing to add sugar, so that’s where the apple came from. I picked shallots because I wanted a more mild flavor than straight garlic and onion. And honestly, the Zimmerman’s peanut butter was at eye level when I was thinking about the recipe, so into the grocery basket it went.

This recipe could easily be made with canned pumpkin, but to be honest, it isn’t much effort to cut up and roast the whole pumpkin. You simply lop the tops off, quarter the little globes, scoop out the seeds and pop the quarters in the oven for a while. 2-3 little baby pam or sugar pumpkins should be enough for this recipe. I used three and had enough roast pumpkin left over to use in a pasta sauce the next day.

Pumpkin Curry Soup topped with peanuts, cilantro and Sriracha

I couldn’t resist adding a little more heat by topping my soup with Sriracha.

A lot about this recipe can be adjusted to suit your taste or what you have on hand. Don’t like peanut butter or have an allergy? Leave it out, the pumpkin and apple will still taste great. Want to make this vegan or vegetarian? Use veggie stock instead of chicken. Like a spicier soup? Add more curry or more cayenne. Want an even creamier texture? Stir in some cream or half and half after blending. You could even substitute other winter squash or root vegetables for some or all of the pumpkin — butternut squash, kabocha squash or sweet potatoes would all work well.

Pumpkin Curry Soup

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

The touches of curry and spice in this filling soup will keep you warm in the cold winter months. Pumpkins aren't just for fall -- you can generally find them into the colder months as well. Adjust the amount of spice to suit your tastes. And if you don't like peanuts or are dealing with allergies, feel free to leave out the peanut butter -- the soup will still be good without it.


  • 2-3 small baking pumpkins (baby pam or sugar), enough to get 2 1/2 cups of chopped, skinned pumpkin
  • 1 Tbsp garam masala
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 3/4 tsp tumeric
  • 1 dash cayenne (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 1/c cup diced shallot
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced
  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter (preferably natural peanut butter without added salt)


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Cut the tops off your pumpkins, then cut them in halves or quarters top to bottom. Scoop out the seeds and strings inside (saving the seeds for another use if you so choose).
  3. Place pumpkin pieces face down on the parchment-covered baking sheet, and bake for 45-50 minutes, until easily pierced with a fork.
  4. In a small bowl, mix the garam masala, cumin, tumeric and salt with 2 Tbsp water to make a paste. Set aside.
  5. Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium to medium-high heat.
  6. Add shallots, sauté about four minutes until they are starting to soften.
  7. Add ginger and spice paste, sauté another two minutes
  8. Add the apple, sauté another two minutes
  9. Add the broth, bring to a simmer.
  10. Add the peanut butter, stir.
  11. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 15-20 minutes.
  12. Blend soup using an immersion blender or by transferring to a blender (working carefully and in batches if necessary).
  13. Top with anything from cilantro and a few dashes of Sriracha sauce to roast pepitas and a drizzle of maple syrup.

Little Amps Coffee Ice Cream

The finished coffee ice cream goes into chilled Mason jars

I use Mason jars for ice cream because I am clearly a hipster. Also because they chill nicely and are reusable.

During Harrisburg Beer Week, when I made that incredible milkshake, I promised the recipe for the coffee ice cream that was a key ingredient along with Zeroday Brewing Co.‘s chocolate hazelnut stout. Well, here you go, my Little Amps Coffee Ice Cream. I know the weather in PA right now isn’t necessarily shouting “SUMMER” but you and I both know that the arrival of the oppressive humidity that marks our springs and summers in PA is just around the corner.

The only good thing about the summer temperature is that I have an excuse to get out the ice cream maker and not put it away for months. Expect more recipes for frozen goodness here at the blog as I try to keep cool this summer.

The coffee ice cream in the ice cream churner

I can never resist sampling soft, almost-done ice cream straight from the churner.

This coffee ice cream is actually my favorite of my ice cream recipes, and one I come back to regularly. I’ve always used Little Amps coffee beans to make it. You could make this using another nice coffee or espresso bean, but I make no claims to how this will turn out with a generic supermarket coffee or even worse — Starbucks beans.

Ingredients for the coffee ice cream

It doesn’t take many ingredients to make a delicious ice cream at home.

Little Amps Coffee is a specialty coffee roaster located here in Harrisburg. Started by Aaron Carlson and his wife, the company sources beans from all over the world and roasts them locally. Initially just a roasting company, Little Amps now has two coffee shop locations in Harrisburg, with another being planned for Philadelphia.

The Little Amps coffee shops serve French press or pour over coffee, as well as a number of specialty espresso and coffee drinks. My favorite is the cold jar, espresso shaken in a Mason jar with ice and brown sugar, finished with a little milk. (Yes, a Mason jar. No, you aren’t required to be wearing flannel to order it — though it does help you blend in.) Little Amps became #hbgfamous when Alton Brown of the Food Network stopped in for a Cortado and tweeted that it was the best he’d had on his tour. You’ll find the Cortado, half espresso and half steamed milk, on the Little Amps menu.

Coffee beans steeping in warm milk

Steep the coffee beans in warm milk to get the perfect level of coffee flavor

For this coffee ice cream, I use my basic ice cream process but start with steeping the whole coffee beans in the milk used to make the ice cream. This infuses the ice cream with a lovely but not too intense coffee flavor. Then a little bit of ground coffee is added at the end to round out the flavor. This technique with the steeping and the grounds is shamelessly stolen from David Lebovitz, the king of ice cream.

My basic ice cream process pulls a few different specific steps together that are not always used together in ice cream recipes. I do this because I generally try to make my ice cream a little lighter than full fat ice creams. When you use lower fat milks in place of whole milk and heavy cream, the texture of the frozen finished product can be a little icy. This combination of techniques helps address that. My recipe uses 3 egg yolks, half and half and some 2% milk compared to Lebovitz’s 5 egg yolks, heavy cream and whole milk.

Add the coffee grounds and vanilla to the strained custard mix

A little coffee grounds and vanilla at the end finish up the custard mix.

That being said, every now and then you just have to make full-fat ice cream and this process still holds up. I won’t judge.

Lissa’s Light(er) Ice Cream Techniques Explained:

  • Beating the yolks and sugar. Instead of just adding the sugar to the milk like most recipes, beat the sugar and egg yolks together till they are pale and thick. This is a time when the muscle of a stand mixer will come in handy. I have trouble beating the yolks to the right consistency when I do it by hand, and even a hand mixer will take a while. My Kitchenaid handles this in just a few minutes.
  • Temper the egg yolks. This one is tricky. I have definitely ruined a few batches of ice cream on this step. You need to gently warm the eggs without cooking them. You do this by gradually adding warmed milk to the egg/sugar mix while whisking constantly. If you mess this part up, you’ll get scrambled eggs instead of ice cream. Just take your time and err on the side adding small amounts of warmed milk at a time. And even if you don’t think you mess it up, always strain your ice cream just in case. It isn’t unusual for a few chunks of egg to sneak in.
  • Heat to thicken. You want to gently heat your mixture of milk and eggs until it thickens enough to coat a spatula. Wooden spoon works great for this part — you know it’s ready when you can run your finger through the coating of custard and the track from your finger stays put on the spoon.
  • Ice it down. You want to chill your custard mixture fairly quickly by using an ice bath.
  • I always chill my custard overnight in the fridge before churning. Some recipes leave out this step, and you certainly can, but particularly when using lower fat ingredients it helps to produce a creamier textured ice cream. Something about fat globules or some such science.

Little Amps Coffee Ice Cream


  • 1 1/3 c. 2% milk
  • 1 1/2 c. whole espresso or coffee beans
  • Pinch salt
  • 3/4 c. sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 2 c. half and half
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground espresso or coffee


  1. Combine milk, coffee beans, salt and 1 c. of the half and half in a sauce pan and warm over medium low heat.
  2. Remove from heat when the milk mixture begins to steam, but don't let it come to a simmer.
  3. Cover and let steep for 1 hour.
  4. Pour the remaining 1 c. half and half into a large bowl, and place a strainer on top. Set aside.
  5. Rewarm milk and coffee mixture, again to a steam but not a simmer.
  6. Combine sugar and egg yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat at high speed until thick and pale yellow (a few minutes in my KitchenAid)
  7. Temper egg yolks by gradually adding the warmed milk mixture to the eggs and sugar while stirring with a whisk. Add about half of the warm milk total, then return tempered eggs and milk to the saucepan.
  8. Continue to heat over medium heat. Stir gently until the mixture thickens to the point where it coats a spatula or wooden spoon (around 160 degrees).
  9. Pour mixture through the strainer into the half and half. Press on the coffee beans to get as much of the custard as possible out of them.
  10. Mix in the vanilla and ground coffee.
  11. Cool custard in an ice bath.
  12. Transfer custard to a close-able container and refrigerate overnight.
  13. The next day, churn the custard according to your ice cream makers instructions.

Broad Street Market in Harrisburg

On weekends where my husband and I aren’t traveling around PA, a highlight of Saturday is my walk to the Broad Street Market. I live in Harrisburg’s Midtown neighborhood (Midtown Square if we’re being particular), and the market is just blocks away. There’s something comforting about grabbing my grocery bag and heading to the market to see what’s fresh. I take a list, but like at any market — I’m flexible and ready to buy something spontaneously because it looks enticing. Every week I’m reminded how lucky I am to have the market nearby. Broad Street Market is an important aspect of why I love living where I do.

Millworks stand at Broad Street Market

The Millworks is a great spot to pick up local produce, dairy, breads and more.

Like many farmers markets, the Broad Street was at one time thriving, but fell on rough times. It was hard for farmers markets to keep up with the introduction of the supermarket. The very premise of the local farmers market is the antithesis of industrial agriculture. Many of PA’s markets have been revitalized recently as cities have reinvested and people have embraced the farm-to-table movement. Broad Street is still trying to find its footing after some recent challenges. Sometimes it seems the market just can’t catch a break. A lot of that has to do with “chronic turnover in management” over the last 15 years. According to Jonathan Bowser, President of the Broad Street Market Board, “this has led to the lack of continuity, leadership, consistency, financial stability and vision.”

But I have high hopes for the market. The current management team seems to be making good decisions. I’ve seen more vendors open than close in the last couple months. As we hit the 2015 growing season, I’m optimistic the market can shake off the bad luck and become the thriving retail hub my neighbors need.

The Stone Buiding at Broad Street Market

The iconic Broad Street sign stands atop the Stone Building.

Stone, Wood and Brick

Like its cousins in Philadelphia and Lancaster, the Broad Street Market is one of the oldest continuously operating farmers markets in the country. I actually didn’t realize until starting this site that our state hosts as many historical markets as it does. The Broad Street Market consists of two separate structures, currently separated by a courtyard. The older “Stone Market” building, which features the market sign overlooking 3rd street, was completed in 1863. The rear “Brick Market” building was completed in 1878. In previous years, a “Wood Market” ran between the two buildings. The newer granite courtyard actually shows the location of walls, stairs and other features from the old Wood Market.

As I mentioned, the market has seen some ups and downs. At its peak in the 1920s, the market housed more than 725 vendors. By 1960, that number was down to 300. At this point, by my best guess the market has 20-30 vendors.

(By the way, brownie points for those of you that get the “Stone, Wood and Brick” comment.)

Broad Street Market's Brick Building

The Brick Building holds most of the produce vendors at Broad Street.

Farmers at Broad

Starting up this weekend (May 16) is the market’s outdoor, producer-only farmers market. From May to October, every Saturday the courtyard hosts local farmers and producers in addition to the regular indoor vendors. While many of the indoor vendors sell PA-grown or produced items, all of the vendors selling outside at Farmers at Broad come from within a 50 mile radius from Harrisburg.

According to the market management, the goals of Farmers at Broad are:

  • To give local farmers and producers access to eaters and buyers in Harrisburg
  • To educate Harrisburg residents and other visitors to the Broad Street Market about the importance of locally sourced food
  • To provide healthy and delicious options to their customers and visitors

As you can probably imagine, that’s big to me. On my spring and summer market trips, I make an effort to purchase as much as I can from the Farmers at Broad vendors.

Green Ridge Farms at Broad Street Market

Green Ridge sells local, pasture-raised meats.

The vendors at Farmers at Broad include produce and meat vendors, but more importantly, you can get ALCOHOL! This year there will be cider, wine and beer vendors selling their wares in the courtyard on Saturdays. You can pick up all the fresh, local ingredients you need for a yummy dinner and a local drink to wash it down with! And I can vouch for the beverage vendors: Big Hill Ciderworks, Spring Gate Vineyards and Zeroday Brewing Co. are all worth trying.

You’ll also be able to find artists, musicians, kids’ activities and other events throughout the season.

Looking Local

I mentioned earlier that while many of the indoor vendors sell PA-grown or produced items, not all of them do. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t want them to. If Broad Street only featured PA items, I’d never be able to get the cheap lemons and limes I depend on for cocktails from Peach Ridge Produce. But you’re reading Made From PA, so let’s look at some of my favorite truly local vendors with permanent spots inside the market.

  • The Millworks Farm Stand: Honestly, the Millworks Stand is probably the only stand I am guaranteed to visit each trip to the market. Two main reasons for that: #1 We get our milk here and I need to exchange my empty bottle for a new one, and #2 I know that any produce available here is locally grown, as they only source locally. Oh yeah, and #3 I’m addicted to EP!C Pickles Spicy Dills, which are sold here. Totally overpriced, but I can’t help myself! Shoot, there’s a #4 They also sell Torchbearer Sauces, and I can never have enough hot sauce (check out my Curry Chicken and Vegetables with their Psycho Curry sauce).
  • Fisher’s Bakery: It isn’t a Pennsylvania farmers market without a significant Pennsylvania Dutch presence. You’ll find any number of PA Dutch-run stands at Broad Street, but Fisher’s is the one to head to if you’re looking for baked goods. They do all sorts of things at Fisher’s, but…the donuts. I’m telling you, the donuts.
  • Green Ridge Acres: There are a few great meat counters at Broad Street, but the only one with a focus on selling local, pasture-raised animals is Green Ridge. In a center stall not far from their meat and produce, Green Ridge also runs a bulk food stand. They aren’t all local, but the nuts, spices, and other bulk items are worth browsing. They carry everything from coconut oil to loose teas, hard-to-find grains, and a number of gluten free flours, pastas and other items.
Soul Burrito at Broad Street Market

Soul Burrito is my favorite new lunch spot at the market.

Made From PA Tips:

Watch where you park. There are about 200 free spots around the market itself, but if you go for street parking nearby, be ready to feed the meter. As of last year, parking around the market in Midtown now costs you. If you are hitting the market on a Saturday, however, use the Pango app and code “LUVHBG” for 4 hours of free parking.

Come hungry. The market has great spots to pick up your weekly groceries, but they also have some amazing prepared food vendors. A lot of people swear by the BBQ from Two Brothers, and you can grab a sushi-grade tuna shooter from JB Kelly. My personal Saturday pattern is to pick up a mocha from Elementary Coffee Co., which I drink as I do my shopping, and a curry chicken burrito from Soul Burrito on my way home. (Get the Jamaican Sensation burrito with everything. Trust me)

Do a lap first. While there’s an effort to bring variety to the market, there is some overlap in product between a few of the produce and meat vendors. I’d recommend doing a lap around the Brick building before making your purchases to evaluate who has what, what the quality is, and what is the best price. See my aforementioned tip about coffee and walking.

Dolce Vita Shake, for Harrisburg Beer Week

If you’re reading this, you more than likely know me personally (Hi, Mom!), and if you know me, I’m sure you know it’s Harrisburg Beer Week. I wanted to get in on all the local, craft beer fun, so I came up with a recipe for a “milkshake” using Zeroday Brewing Co.’s Dolce Vita, a chocolate hazelnut stout.

Dolce Vita shake

The recipe makes enough for one large shake. You wouldn’t want to share it anyway. Trust me.

Harrisburg Beer Week

Before I get into the Made From PA ingredients and the recipe, I’m just want to say that Harrisburg Beer Week has been amazing, and I’m proud of my friends from Stouts & Stilettos and SaraBozich.com for pulling it off. It has been so interesting to see just how active and large the craft beer community is in our area. There are more than 140 events associated with Beer Week, and every single one I’m aware of has been successful. Some of them were so successful they had to turn people away! All this in support of a good cause, the Harrisburg River Rescue. Kudos to Chelsie, Colleen, Sara and Tierney.

Shake from PA

Now. Let’s talk about this shake. Guys. This shake. SO. GOOD. I was inspired by my friends’ chocolate hazelnut stout, made a few guesses, and honestly — with very little tweaking this recipe makes one of the best milkshakes I’ve ever had. The fact that there isn’t any milk in it…well, we don’t need to worry about, now do we? Not when we have beer!

Made as I did it, this shake is truly Made From PA. I used beans from Little Amps, a local Harrisburg coffee roaster, and cream from Apple Valley Creamery in East Berlin, PA, to make the coffee ice cream. And instead of milk, my liquid ingredients are a Harrisburg-brewed chocolate hazelnut stout and a Philadelphia-made coffee rum. I’ll share the coffee ice cream recipe soon, so you can play along at home on that one. The coffee rum is available to order online. The only ingredient not from PA is the sea salt, and well, you’ll just have to forgive me for that one. Do NOT try this recipe without the salt. You’ll regret it.

But I hate to say, there’s currently no way for you to get the chocolate hazelnut stout at home. I cheated, and conned my brewery-owning friends into letting me take home some of their amazing Dolce Vita stout just so I could make this recipe.

Don’t worry, it would be easy enough to make this recipe with easier-to-find ingredients. It’s still going to be good. You can use any commercially available coffee ice cream. I’d recommend going with a premium one here, though. Häagen-Dazs would be a good choice. As I said, the coffee rum is available online, but if you needed to substitute you could try a coffee or espresso vodka, any other coffee liquor, or even substitute an Irish whiskey for a different but equally yummy flavor. Instead of the Dolce Vita chocolate hazelnut stout, you could go with any sweet stout that has some chocolate flavor to it. You could even vary that with a vanilla or coffee stout, but really…why leave out the chocolate?

A version with more standard ingredients is going to be good. But for your sake I hope ZeroDay starts selling their beers to go soon, because the Dolce….oooh, the Dolce. Really. It completes this shake.

Zeroday Brewing Company

The Dolce Vita chocolate hazelnut stout is my favorite of the flagship beers at the brand new Zeroday Brewing Co. in Harrisburg. Owned by friends-of-the-blog Brandalynn and Theo Armstrong, Zeroday just opened its doors April 8. It has already become one of my most frequent Midtown haunts. Yes, the brewery is just a few blocks from my home. Dangerous, I know.

A glass of beer inside the Zeroday Brewery tasting room

If you haven’t already, stop into Zeroday Brewing for a beer. Like the limited Saison 28!

I realize that as the owners are my friends, I’m a little biased, but I have to tell you how impressed I am with them from a business perspective. The careful planning and forethought the two of them have put into the launch of the brewery are sure to ensure its success. And I LOVE the mission and motivation that is driving their choices. Brandalynnn and Theo knew specifically that they wanted their brewery to be in an urban location within Harrisburg that was bikeable and walkable for their neighbors. They settled on Midtown Harrisburg, a neighborhood that is trying — and sometimes struggling — to improve itself. Many a restaurant or bar have opened in Midtown only to close shortly after they failed to draw the patrons they needed, so this choice wasn’t without risk for the Armstrongs. But Brandalynn and Theo have chosen to be a part of the revitalization that is happening in Midtown, and want their brewery to become part of the community here. They aren’t trying to become the largest craft brewer in PA, but they want to be a part of and add to this amazing neighborhood I live in.

What they’re doing with their beer fits right along with that mission. Their flagship beers are very approachable. Considering their location and goals, I think this is perfect. The Zeroday Cheap Date blonde ale is like a more flavorful version of a macrobrew lite beer. Even some of the styles of beer they brew that I don’t usually prefer I find very drinkable, like their IPA and dry stout. Opening a brewery in Midtown Harrisburg that sold completely exotic flavors and really challenging beers wouldn’t mesh with their desire to truly be a neighborhood brewery. And that decision has paid off. The Zeroday tasting room has been consistently crowded since it opened, and Brandalynn and Theo are already seeing the type of repeat, neighborhood business they had hoped for.

Closeup of the Dolce Vita shake

It really is as delicious as it looks.

Zeroday does plan on eventually selling their beers to go. So hopefully soon, you’ll be able to make the Dolce Vita shake yourself. Until then, give it a try with a beer like the Penn Brewery Chocolate Meltdown, the Yards Love Stout, or Lancaster Brewing Company’s Double Chocolate Milk Stout. If you do make a version with another beer, or a different liquor, let me know how it turns out!

Dolce Vita Shake

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 2 minutes

Serving Size: 1 large serving, or 2 small


  • 1 pint premium coffee ice cream
  • 1/2 cup Zeroday Brewing Co.'s Dolce Vita stout (or any sweet chocolate stout)
  • 2 oz. La Colombe's Different Drum coffee-infused rum (or any coffee liquor)
  • 2 pinches sea salt


  1. Combine ingredients in a blender.
  2. Blend.
  3. Drink.
  4. Slurp.
  5. Repeat.

Ginever and Juice

The first time I tried genever, the forefather of traditional gin, I was in a candlelit bar in the back streets of New Orleans’ French Quarter. Bar Tonique is a small and subdued spot that focuses on original, adapted and classic craft cocktails. The drinks you get there are nothing like the shockingly colored, overly sweetened drinks they sling down on Bourbon Street. Ahem. Pat O’Brien, I’m looking at you.

At that point, I was only just starting to get into gin. This was many, many years ago, friends. In my earlier imbibing days, I hadn’t cared for the piney scent and taste of the gins I’d had to that point. There was no appeal to a gin and tonic. Then I discovered Hendricks, with its lovely cucumber flavor. A Hendricks cucumber gimlet soon became a regular order for me. I was a gin convert.

The Ginever and Juice cstrained into a cocktail glass

The blood orange juice makes for a lovely-colored drink.

At Bar Tonique, after a friendly chat with the bartenders about their craft, my husband and I were offered samples of a type of gin neither of us had heard before. The bartenders poured us out shots of genever to sip, and there went my perception of gin, again.

Genever, also spelled jenever or genièvre, doesn’t taste like most gins you know. It has a malty, spicy flavor to it you just won’t find in traditional gin. Some people describe it as tasting like a mix of gin and scotch. Not being a scotch drinker (I know, I know), I can’t offer an opinion. It is still made from juniper berries, so the piney flavor is still there, but there is a different complexity to genever.

Bottle of Wigle's Ginever in the foreground, with citrus and a bottle of Campari in the background

Wigle’s Ginever has a bold, malty flavor.

Genever is also called Holland gin or Dutch gin, and is actually the Netherlands’ national spirit. Bols Genever is the most well known. I actually haven’t tried Bols, though I want to. Bols has been distilling genever since 1664, though they revamped their recipe in 1820. They’re still using that 1820 recipe now.

Traditional genever is distilled from corn, rye and malted barley. Wigle makes their Ginever from a mix of wheat, rye and malted barley. My assumption about the funky spelling is that Wigle technically can’t call their spirit genever, as it’s a protected name. Europe has some fancy shmancy laws that genever can only come from the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany or France, similar to the restrictions around the use of the label “Champagne.”

Wigle uses the expected juniper, but also adds their own mix of herbs and spices to the mash for their Ginever. Like all of their spirits, the Ginever is made from all organic ingredients, and the grains and botanicals they use are grown locally. Wigle actually opened a Whiskey Garden in their North Side Pittsburgh Barrelhouse location last year and have started growing their own plants and herbs to flavor their spirits.

Two halves of a freshly cut blood orange

Blood oranges are a fun change from naval oranges while they’re in season.

I haven’t had Genever very much, so I can’t really compare the Wigle Ginever to a standard. But it does have the nice complexity and bold flavor that sets it apart from your standard gin. I’m not one to drink my spirits straight, but if you are this is definitely sippable.

To make a cocktail with the Ginever, I knew I wanted something that could stand up to the big malty flavor, but without overwhelming the flavor of the spirit. I decided to go for a bitter yet sweet mix, so tried out mixing the Ginever with blood orange juice. Also, blood oranges are only around for so long, and really – if you have an opportunity to make a drink that is naturally that color, you should. I used a Campari swirl in the glass as well as a finisher of orange bitters to add to the bitter profile, and some triple sec to add to the sweet orange profile. I did find in the end that the drink needed just a little something to add a teeny kick, so in went a splash of fresh lime juice. In the end, the drink is a really nice balance of the bitter and sweet sides of orange.

Ginever and Juice, shown with a blood orange and lime

The sweet blood orange goes nicely with Wigle Ginever.

Run out and grab the last blood oranges of the season, hit the liquor store for some Wigle Ginever, and give this cocktail a try before you have to wait until next year!

Ginever and Juice



  1. Add a splash of Campari to a cocktail glass such as a coupe or martini glass. Swirl to coat the sides of the glass.
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add Ginever, blood orange juice, triple sec and lime juice. Shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into the prepared cocktail glass.
  4. Finish with a few dashes of Regan's bitters.

TorchBearer Curry Chicken and Veggies

Close photo of a bowl of chicken and vegetable curry

Chicken and vegetables simmered in a spicy Torchbearer curry sauce

My first blog post here was a Berbere-rubbed chicken. Spicy. A little exotic. Delicious. You probably got the idea that I like hot foods. I might even boast about it every now and again. Or, well…I may boast about it a lot. “I get my drunken noodles ‘thai hot.’” “I grow my own habaneros.” You get the idea.

The first time I tried a TorchBearer hot sauce, I was put definitively in my place. I unwittingly dove right into the deep end with their Zombie Apocalypse sauce, made from ghost chili and habanero peppers. You might assume that the name of the sauce would have clued me in, but no. I doused my tacos with a liberal helping and scarfed down the first taco and a half before I got a hint of what I was in for.

Kids – TorchBearer’s hot sauces are NOT messing around.

In my defense, most of the TorchBearer labels feature a rating front and center that lets you know if what you’re trying is “sweet,” “mild” or in the case of their Rapture sauce, “deadly.” Zombie Apocalypse features no such rating. I figured I could handle it, but the subsequent tears and gulped glasses of milk were proof I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Let me introduce TorchBearer Sauces. Vid, Ben and Tim started the central PA-based company 10 years ago this week (Happy Birthday, guys!). It is truly a local endeavor – the three founders are locals, the labels are designed by local designer Hauck Interactive, and their wares are hawked by many central PA friends, including local celebrities and bloggers Sara and Tierney.

Bowl of TorchBearer curry chicken and veggies with a glass of wine

This recipe winds up spicy, but you can easily adjust the heat by adding less curry sauce

TorchBearer started when the boys had an excess of habaneros and decided to make a habanero preserve. I get that. I grow habaneros every summer, and often wonder what to do when I suddenly have 20 ripe habaneros on my hands. (This summer I’ll share a sweet habanero hot sauce recipe that is amazing on fish tacos.)

After realizing they had an amazing creation on their hands, the boys decided to go for it. They perfected their sauce, set out for their first hot sauce festival, and took home three national awards.

Now 10 years later they have over 20 products, ranging from mild but garlicy fan favorite Oh My Garlic!, to spicy wing sauces and salsas, to super, incredibly-mouth-blisteringly-hot sauces made with Ghost Chili and Trinidad Scorpion peppers. Their hottest is the aforementioned Rapture, which according to the boys is the hottest natural hot sauce in the world. I have to admit, I haven’t tried that one, not even a little drop.

TorchBearer focuses on natural ingredients in their recipes, which I love. Carrots and mandarin oranges add such a nice flavor along with their sweetness that you’ll never get from corn syrup.

Since choking on that Zombie Apocalypse, I’ve come a long way with TorchBearer. My fridge is currently home to 7 mostly used bottles of different Torch sauces. One of their newest is the Psycho Curry. When I first tried it, the Psycho Curry was so new it was still in “test sauce” status (so no fancy label). According to some inside information I got today, the sauce now has the green light and is on its way to amazing hand-drawn label status.

I couldn’t agree with that decision more. The curry sauce is really outstanding. It’s hot (made with habaneros), but when dealt with correctly—not overwhelmingly so. The flavor is very bold, from the lime, fenugreek, turmeric and other spices. Overall, I think it is a good sauce to mix in with something that will mellow it out (I picked coconut milk). But if you are courageous, try it on its own. Friend-of-the-blog Sara Bozich over at SaraBozich.com made a version using the sauce straight, more like a stir-fry sauce, and she and her husband loved it.

Ingredients for the TorchBearer Curry Chicken and Veggies

The fall vegetables work great, but summer veggies like yellow squash and peppers would be delicious too

When I first picked up the sauce, I did a little sampling of it by itself to get to know it. Like I said, it’s got a bold profile. And it isn’t a sweet curry. I wanted to put together a recipe that would tame the sauce just a little bit, but still let it shine. I picked carrot and butternut squash to bring some sweetness to the recipe; I decided at the end it still needed a little bit of brown sugar to sweeten it up a little more. And since I’ve been on a kick of using cauliflower instead of rice, I threw in some of that as well.

This recipe would work great without any meat; the veggies themselves are hearty and filling. And actually, that would make it vegan. But my husband doesn’t eat any meals without meat, so I added chicken.

You could adapt this recipe to almost any veggie and protein combo. I’ve tried this adding either snow peas or asparagus, and both were great – just watch the cooking time. Snow peas I added just a few minutes before finishing. Asparagus was a little longer. I think shrimp would be nice in it as well – again just add in for a few minutes at the end.

TorchBearer Curry Chicken and Veggies


  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into bite sized pieces and seasoned with salt and pepper
  • 1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cubed carrot (3 medium carrots)
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 3 cups cauliflower florets
  • 1 14 oz. can coconut milk (lite or regular)
  • 1/2 cup Torchbearer Psycho Curry sauce
  • 1 tsp brown sugar


  1. Heat 1 Tbsp of canola oil in a skillet over medium heat
  2. Stir fry the chicken pieces until brown, about 5 minutes
  3. Remove chicken from heat and set aside
  4. While chicken is cooking, whisk together the can of coconut milk, curry sauce and brown sugar
  5. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of canola oil in a large skillet
  6. Add red onion to oil and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft - about 5 minutes
  7. Add carrot and squash, cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  8. Add cauliflower and browned chicken, cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
  9. Add curry coconut milk mixture to veggies and chicken
  10. Bring to a simmer. Turn down heat to keep at a simmer
  11. Simmer 20-40 minutes, depending on desired consistency and liquidity. I liked my curry softer with less liquid, so let it go pretty long

Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia

Try heading to Philadelphia’s Reading Terminal Market on a Saturday afternoon, and you’ll be doomed to inch along the surrounding streets at a crawl, cursing the car in front of you that just stole your spot, and wondering at what point you just turn around and go home. When you finally find parking and make it inside, you’ll dodge elbows and shopping bags, wait in long lines and accidentally touch many more strangers than you really want to consider. All this hassle, just for groceries? The produce and sandwiches can’t actually be worth it, right?

Wrong! So, so wrong.

Crowds under the neon lights at Reading Terminal Market.

Shoppers under the neon lights at Reading Terminal Market

Living and working in central PA, I only make it to the Reading Terminal Market on weekends. While the crowds may be aggravating at times, I never regret making the effort. The Reading Market isn’t the oldest farmer’s market in Pennsylvania (that title goes to Central Market in Lancaster), but it is certainly the largest. The market houses more than 80 vendors selling everything from shoofly pies to Thai spices, fresh oysters to locally grown apples. That variety and quality is hard to find elsewhere, and makes fighting your way through the crowds well worth it.

The Monopoly Market

The Reading Terminal Market traces its history back to 1680, when Philadelphia’s farmers and fisherman sold their goods in informal markets near the river around Front and High streets. As these outdoor markets grew and the area expanded, it is no wonder that High Street came to be called Market Street. Eventually the markets were moved into two enclosed markets at 12th and Market streets. The actual Reading Terminal Market building itself was built in 1891 when the Reading Railroad company began construction on a new railroad system at 11th and Market, and agreed to house an enclosed market underneath. The city moved the two existing markets into the new building and opened the Market in 1892.

The Market has seen some rough times, falling into disrepair and disarray after World War II. It was neglected and left to crumble until the mid-80’s when the City of Philadelphia included an improvement initiative for the Market into plans to build the Convention Center. Now the modern Reading Terminal is once again flourishing, packed every week with vendors and patrons.

Customers at the Salumeria counter

Pick up some delicious cured meats at Salumeria

Bringing the Rural to the Urban

The modern Market’s mission statement has 5 main tenants, one of which in particular speaks to me. The Reading Terminal Market considers it part of its mission “to strengthen the historic link and mutual dependency of our rural and urban communities.” That ties directly to what the Made From PA blog is all about – showing how rich and wonderful PA’s food production culture is and that it can be truly accessible to PA residents no matter where you live. That’s why I decided to include Markets in the blog. I want to highlight not only the individual amazing items grown or produced here, but I also want to bring attention to the organizations that are making an effort to bring those products into PA’s cities and towns.

Looking Local

Not everything sold in the Reading Terminal was produced in Pennsylvania. That’s to all of our benefit. You can get exotic teas from the Herbiary or French linens from Contessa. And don’t skip the amazing imported cheeses from Salumeria.

But the Reading Terminal Market is also committed to supporting local producers. Take the following Market policy: “In filling vacancies which may arise in the Market, general preference shall be given to growers and purveyors of local and regional produce.”

And this is Made From PA, right? So let’s talk about some of the PA products you can find at the Market.

  • At Iovine Brothers, they believe in sourcing locally as much as possible and will promote locally grown produce with obvious “LOCAL” signs throughout the market. Iovine buys from local producers like Shady Brook Farms in Yardley and the Philadelphia Urban Creators. Iovine Bros. has a great selection of fresh produce as well as dry goods, and often features specials if you look around the edges of the market.
  • In early 2015, a new charcuterie and butcher shop joined the market. La Divisa Meats cures and ages their own meats and sausages using humanely raised, grass-fed animals from a number of PA farms.
  • And of course, we have to talk about the Pennsylvania Dutch stands. The Market has more than 10 different PA Dutch vendors selling prepared foods, deli items, baked goods and more. Shops like the L. Halteman Family Country Foods sell meat and dairy products that come from their own family farm. They also sell homemade sausages, locally made jams and jellies, honey and Lancaster County produce.
Fruits and veggies on display at Iovine Brothers

My favorite produce vendor in the Reading Terminal Market

And while I can’t vouch that they’re using PA ingredients, you can also pick up any number of delicious prepared foods that are at least produced in PA. Some highlights: the cheesesteak from Spataro, which can challenge the big guys from South Philly, and the chocolate chip cookie from the Famous 4th Street Cookie Company, served warm with tons of gooey, melty chocolate.

Made From PA Tips:

$4 Parking. Parking is at a premium around the Reading Terminal Market. Between the bustle of Chinatown on one side, and the Convention Center on the other, finding a street parking spot can feel impossible. But don’t fear the garages! There are 2 local garages that offer 2 hour parking for $4, if you can get into them. You just need to spend at least $10 at the Market and have your shop vendor validate. Believe me, a $10 minimum purchase won’t be hard for you.

  • 11th & Arch Streets (Expert Parking)
  • 12th & Filbert Streets (Parkway Garage)
Canned goods on display at the Kauffman stall in the Market

Kauffman’s sells Jake & Amos, canned goods from Lancaster County

Grab a Sip. Fighting the crowds and hunting for the perfect ingredients is thirsty work. So while you’re at the Market, make your way to the back and try to find a seat at Molly Malloy’s, the Market’s only bar. They have 24 beers on tap, and you’ll always be able to find a number of Pennsylvania-brewed beers among them. They actually have a pretty decent selection – last time there I was able to get a nice sour beer I enjoy on draft, which is rare.

Get the Pasta. As an Italian American cook, it pains me to admit this, but I don’t make my own pasta. I hope to one day, but for now I look for other Italians I trust to make it for me. If you feel the same way, find By George! along the Filbert Street side of the Market. Look past the neon lights trying to talk you into a cheesesteak (remember, for those go to Spataro!) and you’ll see that By George! sells a number of different types of fresh pasta that are cut to order for you. They also sell a wide variety of sauces to go with your pasta. The diablo is delicious with their fresh fettuccini. And while you’re at it, pick up a loaf of bread from Metropolitan and make a meal of it.

Avigation Cocktail, using Wigle Whiskey’s Ginever

The last couple years have been pretty exciting for Pennsylvania-based spirit lovers. There’s been a rash of new craft distilleries popping up all over the state, making everything from traditional Appalachian moonshine to vodka to absinthe. And I mean rash in the best possible way. If…there was actually such thing as a good rash…which I’m not sure about…and am not about to Google.

The reason for this sudden spread of spirit makers is a change in the PA liquor code in 2011 to allow “limited distillery” licenses. These licenses are cheaper and easier to get then the old distillery licenses, and allow small distilleries to make and sell their own spirits direct to the public. Before this change, Pennsylvania had only a handful of distilleries. Now there are already 20 new businesses selling their spirits, with a number more holding licenses. Good news for the craft alcohol scene. Good news for the growing PA cocktail scene. Good news for me!

The creme de violette makes this cocktail a lovely purple color

The creme de violette makes this cocktail a lovely purple color

The first of these craft distilleries I’ve decided to feature is Wigle Whiskey, based in Pittsburgh. We’re going to look at a cocktail made from their Ginever, crafted by a bartender from Social at Bakery Square.

Wigle Whiskey is a family distillery, owned and operated by the Meyer family. Mark and Mary Ellen head the family, and have been running the distillery with their children since 2012. My husband, who works in the PA legislature, met the Meyers when PA was in the process of passing the limited distillery law. We’ve had the opportunity to share a few cocktails with them since and have visited with the family at their distillery and tasting room in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

The Wigle facility is fantastic. Its location in the Strip is perfect – industrial and functional but also trendy and popular. I can vouch that they have no trouble tempting visitors to stop by and sample their spirits. “Bustling” would be a pretty apt description of their tasting room each time I’ve stopped in. You can try a cocktail or straight spirits in the tasting room, and they also do tours of the distillery to show how the magic happens. If you are going to stop by, I highly recommend you get tickets in advance, as they do sell out.

The Meyers are devoted Pittsburghers. They invite the community into the distillery in any number of ways, from bottling parties to classes to their Neighborhood Series, which is all about Pittsburgh neighborhoods. Last year they opened a new tasting room in an often overlooked neighborhood on Pittsburgh’s North Side, Spring Garden.

The new location, which the Meyers call the Whiskey Garden and Barrelhouse, serves as another site for patrons to imbibe Wigle spirits. The new place holds Wigle’s “innovation lab,” as well as a garden where they plan to grow the plants and botanicals used in their spirits. That is definitely Made From PA! Actually, Wigle’s already makes all of their products from scratch from local products. They’re one of the few distilleries that can make that claim.

Wigle’s started with their white (meaning un-aged) rye whiskey. I thought their decision to sell mini barrel kits for the white whiskey, since they hadn’t had time to age it yet, was ingenious. Also, super cute. I realize I’m essentially doing the distillery’s job for them when I use one, but I can’t help but feel special. Look at me! I’m aging whiskey! How hip am I?!

After the whiskey, they started making ginever and rum. They’re now selling the white as well as aged whiskey (both rye and wheat), ginever (white and barrel rested), and rum (white and spiced). They also make and sell their own bitters, in the traditional aromatic as well as a few unique flavors like their lovely rosemary lavender.

Since most of the Pennsylvania distilleries are new and I’m not necessarily familiar with the unique flavors of their spirits, I’ve decided to have my cocktail posts follow a pattern: first I’ll try a recipe that comes from the distillery to see how the distillery prefers to treat the liquor. Then I’ll follow up with a second post where I try my hand at mixing up a new cocktail with their spirit.

Probably more appropriate for my first cocktail made from a Wigle spirit would be to use their whiskey. It was their first product. It is part of their NAME. Rye whiskey represents Pennsylvania, and particularly western PA’s contribution to America’s whiskey history.

But nope, we’re going with the Ginever. Because I’m wild! Unpredictable! I defy expectations! Also…I like gin more than whiskey. I’m working on the whiskey thing, I swear. I had a cocktail with rye whiskey in it just yesterday, and it was delicious.

Anyway. Ginever is what I had on hand. Moving on.

Wigle’s lists recipes for most of their spirits on their website. I took a look through the Ginever recipes and was tempted by the “Avigation.” The Aviation is a classic cocktail I’m rather fond of, so I was curious what twist this version would put on the drink. The recipe comes from Chris Kuhn, a bartender at Social at Bakery Square. Social is one of many bars in Pittsburgh that is part of the cocktail revival happening all over the country.

Fresh juices are essential for good cocktails. I keep extra around always.

Fresh juices are essential for good cocktails. I keep extra around always.

A classic Aviation combines dry gin, maraschino liquor (no, not the red stuff from the cherries), lemon juice and crème de violette, which gives it a lovely light purple color. The Avigation keeps the crème de violette and lemon juice, but swaps the Wigle’s Ginever for standard gin, and triple sec for the maraschino. It also adds a little lime juice, and finishes the drink with Wigle’s rosemary lavender bitters.

With those switches, I expected a few changes to the drink I was used to. There would be a little more citrus tang from the lime and triple sec. I hadn’t had the Ginever before, but know that genevers are generally more malty and less piney than standard gin. The Avigation would have a heavier flavor with the Ginever than the bright flavor imparted from a dry gin.

I was mostly right. The Avigation is a nice, well balanced cocktail that has enough to pleasantly remind me of my old favorite but quite a different finish due to the Ginever, as well as the bitters. The rosemary lavender bitters add a really nice complexity – they bring yet another layer of flavor to the sweet, tangy and malty. A success overall, and a drink I’ll be making again.


Prep Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 3 minutes

Yield: Around 3 oz

Serving Size: 1 cocktail

This recipe comes from Chris Kuhn of Social at Bakery Square. Not a Made From PA original! Chris does a nice riff on a classic Aviation cocktail. The malty Ginever and rosemary lavender bitters make for a complex but drinkable cocktail. And its still the lovely purple color you expect from an Aviation!



  1. Combine in shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake briskly.
  3. Strain into cocktail glass.

What is Made From PA?

Made From PA is a blog dedicated to exploring and experimenting with Pennsylvania ingredients. It's about sharing the awesomeness of my home state of Pennsylvania. It combines a passion for cooking and cocktails with an intense love for the commonwealth. Each recipe stars one (or more!) featured ingredient grown or made in PA.

More about Made from PA >