Tracker Pixel for Entry

​Cocktail Showdown Week Five

by Chris Larson | .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) | Cocktail Showdown | December 12th, 2017

cjlarson75@gmail.com

Newly remodeled since July of this year, the Spirits Lounge inside the Holiday Inn in Fargo takes the lounge concept to a level of comfort that isn’t often seen in town.

On one side of the room, underneath two large flatscreens, you and a dozen of your friends can enjoy classy yet comfortable seating on enormous couches and large lounge chairs, while you enjoy a solid selection of a dozen different wines.

If, like our judges, you are in search of something a little more involved than just popping a cork, the drink menu includes nearly twenty different takes on modern standards, and rotates in new options as the seasons change.

The cocktail: Barta Paloma

The creator: Molly Fontaine


Molly started by cutting grapefruits in half and juicing each into a pint glass. She then added a cut strawberry and some mint that were both pressed lightly into the bottom of the glass to release flavor. To that, she added vanilla-infused simple syrup, Codigo Reposado tequila and soda water and then stirred.

To finish, she dusted the glass and coated the rim with grapefruit zest before she garnished with a strawberry on a pick, mint sprig, and a grapefruit twist. The addition of mint and vanilla syrup gave it a robust mouthfeel and crisp sweetness that at times overtook the tartness to present a minty sweet flash of strawberry mojito-like flavor before the citrus came back for a reprise that reminded me it was a Paloma.

The after-dinner drink: Old Smoking Brandy

The creator: Molly Fontaine


Before she mixed up her cocktail entry, she poured some Grand Marnier into rocks glasses and placed the glasses and some orange zest into a smoker box that was then filled with cherrywood smoke. She then soaked sugar cubes in a blend of black walnut and gin barrel-aged orange bitters, and then muddled them in the bottom of rocks glasses where they sat to macerate while she prepared and served her “Barta Paloma” to us.

When it was time for her to return to prepping the Old Smoking Brandy, she began by filling the rocks glasses holding the bitters with ice and a hefty amount of E&J VSOP Brandy in three parts, stirring aggressively between each addition of brandy to chill it well. She then pulled the glasses and orange zest from the smoker box and floated the smoked liqueur on top of the iced brandy before expressing the smoked orange peel over the drink and tossing it in as a simple and classic garnish.

Delicate notes of cherry from the smoke came through more than I expected, so much so that I had to remind myself there was no luxardo in this play on the Old Fashioned. The orange zest, to me, brightened the brandy in just the right way, and the spectacle of filling the smoking box drew the attention of the whole bar and generated a fair amount of excitement in the room.

When it comes to authenticity, the Blarney Stone has got it covered with their hefty portions of bangers and mash, Guinness Irish stew, corned beef and cabbage and much more. On weekends, a special breakfast feature known as their Dinner in Dublin Special runs from 10am to 2pm every Saturday and Sunday, and includes a free trip through their locally heralded bloody mary bar or a free mimosa. Looking for something a bit more authentically Irish to drink? Their selection of Irish beer, ciders, and whiskeys is vast and impressive.

The shot: Irish Bare Knuckle Boxer

The creator: Maggie Green


Maggie began with a shot glass ¾ full of Jameson Irish Whiskey that she then topped with Leroux Triple Sec. She then poured Stoli ginger beer to fill a pint glass about ¼ full before adding a squeeze of lime. It was then up to us to drop the shot glasses into the pint glass, which sent the bubbles rushing throughout the glass and also served to mix the ingredients up just a bit before we sent them chasing each other down our throats. The very familiar Irish Mule recipe of whiskey, ginger beer, and lime juice was sweetened by just the right amount of triple sec, that smoothed everything out without becoming the focal point.

The cocktail: Liam Neeson

The creator: Maggie Green

Maggie returned to the Jameson Irish Whiskey but this time, along with the whiskey, added ½ ounce of ginger syrup and two squeezes of lemon juice to a shaker with ice. It was shaken very well and then strained into a pint glass full of ice and then topped with Andre Spumante sparkling wine.

Maggie was quite open and honest about this being a play on the traditional rye and champagne cocktail known as the Raymond Massey, who was a Canadian actor from the 30s and 40s. While this drink was again quite similar to the Irish Mule, the addition of lemon juice instead of lime changed the drink in a noticeable and significant way. When combined with the ginger syrup and sparkling wine it took on an essence that really reminded me of a ginger lemon Radler beer: refreshing and crisp with just the right amount of lemon tartness.

Recently in:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Policy, not law, has torn more than 2,300 children from their parents along the U.S.-Mexico border. Although immigration reform has been a heated topic for decades, the policy of zero tolerance began with a…

Stand-up comedy can certainly be a cutthroat business. Despite the fact that everyone loves to laugh, humor is highly subjective. What splits one person’s sides may offend the other. More than one comic has watched a show (or…

Thursday, June 21, 8 p.m.-11 p.m.Hotel Donaldson, 101 N BroadwayJake Ingamar may be best known as a solo acoustic, indie singer-songwriter/pedal steel player. For the very first time, he’s plugging in and is going full blown…

Just last week Raul and I were driving a rental car on the backroads of Mallorca, a small Mediterranean Island off the coast of Spain. Not gonna lie, my nose may or may not have been pressed hard against the window admiring the…

Ireland Has Sent Pope Francis and The Vatican A Dear John Letter: “It’s Over!”The Irish people and the Vatican have been developing a huge cultural grand canyon for decades over the issues of gender identities,…

FARGO - A collection of memories from High Plains Reader's annual Cocktail Showdown. Participants were judged on creativity, flavor, and presentation; and this year we added a new category. Like years before, each establishment was…

Every year the Fargo Moorhead area celebrates its love of food with Restaurant week. Each restaurant involved prepares a special menu to showcase the best of what they have to offer. This year there are seventeen restaurants…

Front Street Taproom has struck up a relation with local record shop, Vinyl Giant. There are two events where turntables are set up and people can play their records. Every Wednesday they host Vinyl Night from 7:00 to 11:00 p.m.…

Scaring up early buzz as a premiere in the Midnight section of the 2018 Sundance Film Festival, Ari Aster’s “Hereditary” is the horror film of the year. Anchored by the vital performance of Toni Collette as grieving,…

By Tayler Klimektklimek@cord.eduCome one, come all to the 59th anniversary of the Midwestern Invitational Art Exhibition! This tradition celebrates each year with a preview and awards selection the first night of its showing, with…

Projects have a tendency to take on a life of their own once they’ve reached a certain point. When the Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre was established in 1946 to offer other local opportunities for artistic expression outside…

Fargo has its share of people who are passionate about stand-up comedy, even if the success of clubs devoted to it has been mixed. Despite the fact we have seen places like Courtney’s Comedy Club and Level 2 Comedy Club close…

By Ben Myhrebenmyhre35@gmail.comHow lucky we are in the FM area that we have so many craft breweries, but did you know that we also have two cider houses? Cottonwood Cider House is one of those cider houses and is just a short…

Best Local CelebrityCarson WentzBest Stylist / BarberJed Felix, Everett’s BarbershopBest Salon / Barber ShopEverett’s BarbershopBest Tattoo Parlor46 & 2 TattooBest Tattoo ArtistMeg Felix, No Coast TattooBest Gift ShopZandbroz…

By Melissa Martinmelissamartincounselor@live.comThink back to one of your worst small decisions. Then answer the following questions:How did you make the decision?What happened after the decision?When did you know it was the worst…

Last Word

​Keeping FM C.L.E.A.N

by HPR Contributor

By Paul JensenFargo, as the most populous city in the state with 120,000 inhabitants, added nearly 6,000 20-to-34-year-olds in 2015, just over five percent of the total population. Fargo is attracting well-educated young…