That Hometown Taste: Whiskey-sipping on an autumn evening

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Patio29’s Caprese Mushroom Flatbread. (Crystal Apilado/Winters Express)

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California Autumn weather is here — finally. The brisk cold cuts to the bone and chills your airways. It’s not a Kalamazoo fall, but I’ll happily scrape occasional ice off my windshield a few times a month vs trying to blast hot air out of my car with more hot air as the air conditioner attempts to crank out a cool breeze.

I’ve been wanting to go to Patio29 to try some of their fall cocktails for a few weeks now. I tried the Chai Cran at the Rotary’s Food & Wine Gala and my interest in tasting more piqued. While I’m not generally a fan of orange liquors, I am a fan of whiskey. The Harmons orange whiskey paired with the tart cranberry juice and chai simple syrup was tasty.

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Patio29’s Capital Blend whiskey paired with spiced apple cider and PURE cinnamon honey, left, and Spiked Horchata — Harmons cinnamon whiskey with a dash of nutmeg. (Crystal Apilado/Winters Express)

Photos of the Boone’s fall cocktails have been taunting me from my Instagram feed. However, with all three of my daughters participating in one sport or another, Friday night sleep has seemed more responsible. When a childless opportunity finally came up, my husband and I decided it was time to take advantage of going out to have cocktails and appetizers.

We breezed through the doors to Patio29 and a multitude of possibilities lay before us. We opted to look at the seasonal cocktail menu. He decided on the Fall Vibes and I chose the Spiked Horchata.

Knowing my appreciation for hot cider with whiskey, my husband let me have a sip. The PURE cinnamon honey and black walnut bitters brought the basic mulled cider up a notch. Generally, I have a jar of PURE caramel honey in my cupboard, but I’ve decided I’m going to have to expand on my selection for cider season. It would be delicious in hot tea as well, so it’s a win-win.

My Spiked Horchata was a new level of comfort in a cup. I appreciate a cool sip of horchata any day. But this boozy version adds Harmons cinnamon whiskey to your glass of horchata with a dusting of nutmeg. It’s a smooth sip of deliciousness that warms you up from the inside out. I recommend either heading to Patio29 to try it yourself or bringing home a bottle of their cinnamon whiskey to try in your own horchata recipe.

While we were there, we decided to partake in some of the items from their food menu. We ordered the Caprese Mushroom flatbread. I also decided that in my ongoing quest to determine who has the best fries in Winters, it was my responsibility to test out their Herbed French Fries.

The Caprese Mushroom flatbread was delicious. Flatbread crust can be disappointing if it is too hard or too doughy. Patio29’s was neither of those. The crust was chewy enough, without taking away from the flavor.

The roasted red pepper and sun-dried tomato topped with fresh basil and drizzled with a balsamic reduction did it for me. The hints of sweetness and fresh flavors tied together nicely with each bite. No one flavor overpowered another. It also didn’t take away from our cocktails.

The Herbed French Fries were delicious. They, too, did not disappoint. They were lightly seasoned and crispy on the

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Patio29’s Herbed French fries. (Crystal Apilado/Winters Express)

outside. I felt a little guilty considering I’m supposed to be following a clean-eating lifestyle. But it didn’t take much arm-twisting to decide that sharing them was better than eating it all myself — which I would have done in a heartbeat.

Patio29’s Herbed French Fries are definitely up there in my top three favorite fries to order in town. I will have no problem ordering them again — to not share. I may need to do a blind tasting to see which fries reign supreme. But, that’s another column, and I may need to gather some volunteers.

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