Photo Credit: Lauren Trieschmann, Sparrow + Wolf and Frey Ranch

After being mainly shut in since mid-March, I was excited to receive an invitation to participate in a media dinner, even if it was going to be held in my home, as well as the homes of more than a dozen. Held on May 20, it was a virtual dinner, a collaboration between one of Las Vegas’ most popular eateries—Sparrow + Wolf—and a Nevada distillery, Frey Ranch.

Although I featured both quite recently in this publication (Frey Ranch was our cover feature in Feb. and Sparrow + Wolf was in my What’s Cooking column just last month), doing so again could not be helped, as this creative, novel event was certainly newsworthy. The logistics involved home delivery of our three-course meal with a bottle of Frey Ranch Bourbon and cocktail, an hour before the virtual dinner began. At precisely 6 p.m. 15 of us logged in to the Zoom call, and after being welcomed by our host, Wagstaff Account Executive Lauren Trieschmann, we each introduced ourselves. The discussion was then turned over to Ashley and Colby Frey and Sparrow + Wolf Chef/Owner Brian Howard, who throughout the hour-long discourse talked about their participation and answered questions. 

The contents of the package we received included a 750 ml bottle of Frey Ranch Bourbon, a pre-mixed cocktail (with recipe), a vial of honey (to make more if desired), the three-course meal (which was thoughtfully packaged with accoutrements to be added and instructions for how to construct each course) and a bottle of hand sanitizer, which we learned Frey Ranch had produced quite a bit of to help out during the pandemic.

The aforementioned cocktail, named “Ranch Hand,” was made with Frey Ranch Bourbon, fresh lemon juice, honey syrup and a dash of Australian Aromatic Bitters. Keeping to the distillery’s “ground to glass” theme, we were informed by Colby that the honey is sourced from hives located on their ranch. 

The starter was a wood-roasted Romanesco broccoli/cauliflower salad with sugar snap peas, Thai chilis and containers of fresh mint, crunchy garlic, togarashi and ramekin of coconut vinaigrette which we were instructed to mix together in a bowl. 

The main course was slow-cooked lamb neck with a Frey Ranch Bourbon glaze, delivered hot in a vacuum sealed bag with instructions to heat in boiling water for 5 minutes before pouring a deli container of the bourbon glaze over the top and adding chopped scallions and the remainder of garlic chips. A vegetarian option was offered: smoked sunchoke ravioli with toasted nori and mushroom ragout. Both were accompanied by harissa-glazed carrots topped with labneh and fresh dill, which this avowed carrot despiser could not stop indulging in.

Our “sweet ending” was wood-fired plums with vanilla and a container of crème fraiche for the topping. 

Colby started off the discussion telling of how his family has been in Nevada farming on the ranch in Fallon since 1854, and how he and his wife Ashley decided that as they had always grown wheat, rye, barley and corn, they couldn’t think of a better way to showcase their crops than to make it into whiskey. He went on to explain that they now refer to their farm as a whiskey farm, as all of the aforementioned grains used to make their distilled products are grown right on their farm, using water that comes from the Lake Tahoe watershed. And, the use of rye imparts a spicy characteristic and wheat adds some sweetness. Ashley emphasized that in order to make the best quality whiskey they use the best quality grains versus something that would overproduce quantity.  

When I posed the question of how long the bourbon was aged, Colby said, “Five years. To be called straight bourbon whiskey it has to be a minimum of four years old, and it was really good at four years, but we aged it an extra year because we wanted to do it the right way, and not necessarily the easy way.” 

Chef Brian talked about giving back to local farmers by utilizing their product, citing that the carrots were grown at Desert Bloom Farms and the glaze being made with the Frey Ranch Bourbon.  When I asked Chef Brian how his partnership with Frey Ranch came about, he responded, “We’ve always been about supporting the local community and small distilleries and finding something that has a story and people behind it. We met them (the Freys) about two years ago and love their product. We want to support our local farmers and anyone that’s supporting Nevada and what we do here.”  

At first, I thought it might be awkward dining remotely with several others, but the Zoom gathering turned out to be quite fun and comfortable, with a bonus being no need to dress up or arrange for a designated driver. Thanks are in order to Ashley and Colby Frey, Chef Brian Howard and Lauren Trieschmann for their part in putting this evening together, which helped to make being quarantined much more easier to endure. Now that restaurants are again allowed to open for dine-in Sparrow + Wolf has scheduled its reopening for June 1, just in time for its 3rd anniversary celebration on June 3 (which as I write this in late May is already sold out!).  

The Frey Ranch Bourbon was just released in Southern Nevada in early February and is distributed throughout Nevada by Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits. It is currently available in 101 on-premise locations including Lee’s, Khoury’s and Total Wine. To read more about Frey Ranch, its products and where to purchase them, visit www.freyranch.com. To make a reservation for Sparrow + Wolf and to view its menu, visit sparrowandwolflv.com.

RECIPES

Ranch Hand

1.5 oz Frey Ranch Bourbon

.75 oz fresh lemon juice

.5 oz honey syrup

dash Australian Aromatic Bitters

Build all ingredients and shake with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass
and garnish with fresh lemon peel.

 

Nevada Buck

1.5 oz Frey Ranch Bourbon

.25 oz fresh lemon juice

3 oz Fever Tree Spiced Orange Ginger Ale

2 dashes Australian Aromatic Bitters

Build all ingredients over ice in a double Old Fashioned glass, stir and garnish with orange slice.