There are times when you’re in wine country when what you’d really like is a good cocktail. In the Temecula Valley, there hasn’t been much of an option for that. Until now. When Annata Bistro opened its doors earlier this year at Mount Palomar Winery, they also opened a full bar. Among other things, what sets this bar apart from the rest is the way they utilize fresh ingredients on property for all the syrups and sodas. Savannah Bergran was behind the bar on the day of my recent visit. She came here by way of Washington State where she honed her skills as a mixologist, a craft she has practiced for 15 years.
First into the glass was the Spice of Life martini, with muddled cucumber, jalapeño and cilantro, Tito’s vodka, house made sweet and sour, orange juice, agave nectar and a Tajin rim. Refreshing and colorful, this was an excellent choice for a warm summer afternoon. With the cocktail came the first of three appetizers – fresh ceviche with white fish, shrimp, onion, garlic, fresh lemon juice and house made pita chips. I love ceviche and this was no exception, well-balanced, bursting with flavor and fresh as can be.
Annata’s twist on the Moscow Mule is their Mule of Paradise. Made with Tito’s vodka, pineapple, spicy mango syrup, orange juice and ginger beer and served in the traditional copper mug, this is a classic. The ginger zing is complimented by the spicy mango and pineapple. With the mule we savored Tempura Portobello fries with a spicy soy dip. Large slices of Portobello mushrooms are lightly coated and fried to a perfection, crisp on the outside, tender and moist inside.
Finally, Savannah made us Adios Summer, with whipped cream vodka, Malibu rum, blue Curacao, sweet and sour and Sprite. A brilliant blue, my first thought was that it was going to be too sweet. The sweet and sour however gave it the just needed balance. It was a great partner to their house made hummus and pita chips with Kalamata olives with an olive oil drizzle.
Just before we left, we said goodbye with the Angels Wing, Mount Palomar’s Solanus dessert wine with their sparkling brut with a cluster of grapes.
Annata at Mount Palomar is a welcome addition to Temecula wine country. Next time you’re out and about, keep them in mind if you’re dreaming of a cocktail and a bite to eat. Open Monday through Thursday 11 – 6 and Friday through Sunday 11 – 8, Annata Bistro also offers full lunch and dinner menus.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701. Ask about special discounts.