Corks+Forks: Elliott’s Crab Cakes and broVo Spirits

A Seattle institution gets savvy with BroVo Spirits’ “lady-made” liquor.

Brainstorming dream life decisions over cocktails is a favorite pastime of mine. The mixing of fantasy and booze usually results in a heady concoction. In the instance of Mhairi Voelsgen and Erin Brophy, founders of broVo Spirits, the idea of leaving the corporate world, cashing in their 401(k)s and going to distillery school to produce some of the Northwest’s only female-made spirits seemed all too intoxicating to pass by.

The two ladies of lush met while working at Boeing’s Museum of Flight and spoke of their greater ambitions. Several years later, they got together to start picking the brains of bartenders and restauranteurs in Seattle to see what they were missing on their shelves that could take their cocktails to the next level.

Deciding on handcrafted botanical liqueurs made from distinctively Washington products and to contract with small, established distilleries, the ladies attended distillery school in 2010 and released their first beverage of cherry brandy.

broVo is committed to using small farms for the contents of their liqueurs from across the state and small craft distilleries to produce the spirits. They have released five total liqueurs in the line including the Lemon Balm grown in Northport, the Rose Geranium aimed to go with local vodkas and gin, the Ginger to flirt with whiskey and tequila, the Lavender to add floral notes and the Douglas Fir for a true shout-out to Washington state.

Their mantra is to be “more nose than palate,” aiding in fragrant aromas to a cocktail other than taking the reigns with flavor. Which is smart thinking considering taste is 90-percent smell (look it up!).

Linking up with more local businesses, broVo has released their “60 Days of Summer Tourism” cocktail brochure that teams up with several dozen restaurants in the Puget Sound to feature 60 recipes suited for summer. The cocktails are handcrafted by the eatery’s lead bartenders and stars one of the five broVo liqueurs.

Photo courtesy of Mike Urban/Darren LaMarr.

The Restaurant: Elliott’s Oyster House on Pier 56 — Since their doors flung open in 1975, Elliott’s has been praised for their sustainable, local and delicious seafood practices in the Seattle area. Famously known for their annual celebration of the resurgence of oysters in winter and seasonal fish year-round, Elliott’s is also heralded for its impact in the community with their support in related charities like the Puget Sound Restoration Fund and Wild Salmon Supporters.

The Dish: Dungeness Crab Cakes — Blended with chunks of shrimp, jasmine rice, a sweet chili-lime beuree blanc and coupled with a chayote-jicama slaw, these crab cakes are lavish and largesse, emphasizing on of our water’s greatest creatures. Interestingly enough, Elliott’s famous cakes have made their way to our local retailers in the frozen food aisle at QFC, Red Apple, Thriftway and Haggen’s in the Seattle area. Of course they are not as solid as the real meal deal, but they make a legitimate at-home substitute when trying to impress the in-laws without having to work nearly as hard.

The Variety: broVo Ginger — First of all, ginger has nutritional benefits. An anti-inflammatory, a gastrointestinal reliever and a purebred antioxidant, ginger does more than add spice and fragrance to a drink or meal. broVo’s aimed at offering both sweet and spice to a cocktail, heavily on the aromatics where ginger shines the brightest. When matched with rich proteins or even bland starches, ginger-based beverages can enhance a meal to another level.

Why It Works: Sweet and spicy play nice with rich and robust, with the ginger matching the sweetness of the crab meat while lifting the heaviness of the cake itself with spice that rivals the chili-lime beuree blanc and chayote-jicama slaw.

The Recommended Match: Tongue Thai’d ($8) — Bar Manager Scott Diaz snapped his fingers and devised a handful of summer house cocktails featuring the broVo spirits, one such beauty is the Tongue Thai’d, which features broVo Ginger with rum. Diaz shakes together guava nectar, fresh lime juice, a few magic syrups and fresh Thai basil leaves that strains onto a rocks glass filled of, well, rocks. The infusion is ideal with a coy tropical sweetness that finishes in the refreshing kick of ginger.

broVo Spirits “60 Days of Summer Tourism Activity” booklet is currently available for free of charge at all the participating restaurants and bars while supplies last. Sample some drinks while you’re grabbing that too. It always tastes better in real life.

Elliott’s Oyster House | 1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56, Seattle | (206) 623-4340