"The alchemy of Deirdre Heekin's beautifully evocative memoir, her libation in tribute to the art of making wine, spirits, and other 'waters of life,' is not only the alchemy of grapes as they ferment, or that of an American couple falling in love with French and Italian cordials and spirits, or that of the pungent taste of liqueurs, whiskeys, and eaux de vie remembered on snowy Vermont evenings with such intensity that fervent, joyful, sun-filled memories of love, friendship, pleasure, and bliss come alive. It is also the alchemy of a prose transformed into a spirited and intoxicating poetry."
—Richard Stamelman, author of Perfume: Joy, Obsession, Scandal, Sin; A Cultural History of Fragrance
For many years, Deirdre Heekin has been creating an unusual, revitalist wine archive of rare and traditional Italian varietals at Osteria Pane e Salute, the nationally celebrated restaurant and wine bar she shares with her chef husband, Caleb Barber. Self-taught in the world of Italian wines, she is known for her fine-tuned work with scent and taste and her ability to pair wines and food in unexpected yet terroir-driven ways.
In Libation, a Bitter Alchemy, a series of linked personal essays, Heekin explores the curious development of her nose and palate, her intuitive education and relationship with wine and spirits, and her arduous attempts to make liqueurs and wine from the fruits of her own land in northern New England. The essays follow her as she unearths ruby-toned wines given up by the ghosts of long-gone wine makers from the red soil of Italy, her adoptive land; as she embarks on a complicated pilgrimage to the home of one of the world’s oldest cocktails, Sazerac, in Katrina-soaked New Orleans; as she attempts a midsummer crafting of a brandy made from inherited roses, the results of an old Sicilian recipe she found in a dusty bookstore in Naples.
Musing on spirits from Campari to alkermes, Heekin’s writing is as intoxicating, rich, and carefully crafted as the wines, liquors, and locales she loves.
About the Author
Deirdre Heekin and Caleb Barber are the proprietors and, respectively, wine director and
head chef of Osteria Pane e Salute, a boutique restaurant and wine bar in Woodstock,
Vermont, recently acclaimed in Bon Appétit, The Boston Globe, Travel and Leisure, and
Attaché. Heekin and Barber grow most of their own produce in addition to working with
local farm partners. In preparation for his role as head chef of Osteria Pane e Salute, Barber
apprenticed with an artisanal baker and in a small trattoria in Tuscany.
Heekin and Barber live in Barnard, Vermont, where Heekin produces artisanal after-dinner
brandies and micro-vintage ...