3 non-alcoholic gifts for Northern Nevada’s booze hounds

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, but don’t fret, there’s plenty of unique local options for beer geeks and libationists

Sometimes finding gifts for someone can be really tough, especially when they like to make or buy everything themselves. This year, skip the gift card and explore these three new beverage options. The best part is, each one of them will support a local small business in Reno, Tahoe or Carson City.

High Desert Botanicals – Carson City

Many folks love to make their own ingredients from scratch as the foodie and libationist movement grows stronger. But making bitters and tonics at home proves more difficult because the ingredients are hard to find and expensive. High Desert Botanicals, a mostly online store based in Carson City, wants to change that.

Owner Janel Johnson started making her own bitters but realized that buying bulk ingredients often led to not using them before becoming stale. So she started High Desert Botanicals to make custom do-it-yourself kits.

Janel and her husband Reese started on Etsy in April 2013 and now have a small by-appointment shop and the web store. On January 17, 2015 Janel will teach a bitters blending workshop at 1864 Tavern so “you can taste each individual herb and spice and get a good feel for what it contributes to the final product.”

“Making bitters is very easy,” Janel wrote in an email. “There are a ton of recipes out there for all kinds of crazy bitters. You can use them in nearly any drink. It doesn’t have to be a Manhattan or old fashioned; you can add a dash to a martini or margarita to give it a more complex and interesting flavor. It’s really like adding salt and spices to food, it adds flavors but it also balances sweet and sour ingredients so they’re not overwhelming.”

Bitters also help digestion and can be added to a non-alcoholic drink, sipped alone or added to a simpler cocktail to sooth indigestion after a huge meal. Making bitters at home, allows for customization and control of natural ingredients for folks with allergies or who just don’t want to drink chemical junk. A limited selection of the kits are available at the Buy Nevada First gift shop at the Old Town Mall in Reno.

Joe Winter’s pottery – Reno

You may recognize Joe Winter’s pottery from the growlers at Craft Wine & Beer, the Brewing Lair or Tahoe Mountain Brewery. Joe started making pottery at age 11 and hasn’t stopped for 35 years. He also makes custom pottery, pints, steins and growlers for beer, some wine goblets and shot glasses that are “tasty little sculptures.”

Three weeks ago he fired up his new salt kiln and started his Fall shows for the next three weekends until Christmas.

“The influence of the salt on the glaze can be quite interesting,” Joe wrote in an email. “The copper green Oribe glaze is one of my favorites to use in the salt. I had a request from Tom Adams at Seven Troughs Distillery for some old style whiskey bottles. He showed me some photos of some old whiskey bottles from Ely and Goldfield. They were definitely salt fired so I had a great reason to get the kiln built. Those bottles are available at the distillery.”

Visit his home from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 16620 Fetlock Dr., Reno, NV to check out his collection, buy your own pottery or talk about any custom work. Call 775-969-3394  with questions.

Kombucha – Tahoe

By Abbey Smith

Kombucha is a fermented tea with many health benefits. As more and more grocery stores (Raley’s, Whole FoodsGreat Basin Community Food Co-opNatural Grocers and even Wal Mart) and restaurants (Great Full Gardens) serve this ancient brew, many people are attracted to the colorful kombucha labels and then taken aback by the strange, floating particles at the bottom of the bottle. Don’t fear the SCOBY! It is the magic of this elixir. Kombucha starts as a simple mix of tea, water and sugar and is then fermented into a healthy alternative to soda. Kombucha is something serious connoisseurs can brew at home, and everyone can buy locally crafted kombucha from Bella Bucha Kombucha and Sierra Kombucha.

Bella Bucha Kombucha was founded by Lake Tahoe native Kellan Adams. It can be purchased at many locations through Reno and Tahoe as well as online.

“Most kombucha marketed on store shelves today tastes like flavored vinegar. Bella Bucha has many palate pleasing flavors that are satisfyingly nutritious and hydrating. Bella Bucha Kombucha replenishes and cleanses a consumer with its enzymes, probiotics, amino acids, vitamins and great taste,” Adams said.

The Reno community is embracing her new brew and business.

“My brand is continuing to thrive because we live in a health conscious, open-minded place where people love the outdoors, support entrepreneurship and environmental stewardship. I love this community and I look forward to seeing the positive growth and redevelopment that’s awaiting Reno,” Adams said.

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Mike Higdon

Editor & Publisher at Drinkable Reno
Mike Higdon is a journalist passionate about beer and cocktails. He started the site because no one else covered Reno's growing craft scene at the level of detail required to stay in the know about all things drinkable in Reno.

One thought on “3 non-alcoholic gifts for Northern Nevada’s booze hounds

  1. Great plug for Joe! We have a ton of his stuff, plates, bowls, mugs, growlers, etc. Amazingly talented and low key.

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