By Dr. Ink
Happy hour at Farmer’s Bottega is presented on a wine bottle, which lists the daily drink and food specials served at a small, curvy bar that seats about eight guests. It’s an intimate space that doesn’t intrude on the fairly large dining room, allowing you to rub elbows with other patrons while sipping on craft beers, house wines or bellinis made with fresh-fruit puree.
The restaurant prides itself on using fresh produce and other ingredients sourced from regional growers and artisans, some of which find their way into the happy-hour offerings.
In a visit several months ago, I paired a local IPA with an appetizer of fried green tomatoes that was reduced in cost and portion size compared to the pricier, fuller plate you get from the regular menu. During happy hour the dish is $6, and the tomatoes sported a tangy garden-fresh flavor and luscious crust achieved from panko crumbs and egg — a treat in a town where they aren’t commonly served.
More recently, I noticed on the drink list a kombucha mojito, and eagerly succumbed to it. In the absence of a full liquor license, it’s one of a few cocktails made with low-alcohol spirits.
Instead of rum, the drink uses a wine-based liqueur. With plenty of muddled mint in the glass, it was neither too tart nor overly sweet. And despite lacking the boozy mouth feel of a classic mojito, it provided a substantial kick from the grapey liqueur, which the bartender ranked at “about 25 proof” in alcohol.
It was the kombucha, however, that added a dose of novelty. The trendy, fermented tea created mild effervescence, not to mention a gut-quenching infusion of a billion or more healthy bacteria colonies found also in fresh yogurt and raw sauerkraut. If only for its gentle fizz, I like kombucha and wouldn’t mind seeing it used as a cocktail mixer more often.
While savoring the probiotic tipple, I forked into a couple pieces of toasted bread topped with a colorful medley of grape tomatoes that were sweet and astonishingly juicy. Generous shavings of Parmesan cheese offered tang and richness, making it one of the simplest, most enjoyable bruschettas I’ve encountered all year.
For a grand total of $12, it was also the healthiest happy hour I’ve experienced in quite a while – no hard liquor, no sugary mixers, and no fatty noshes – and yet with the obtainment of a light buzz that brought levity to the end of a tedious workday.