Robert Gomez Mixes it up in Walla Walla

Robert Gomez Mixes it up in Walla Walla
Robert Gomez, Sommelier and owner of Hoquetus Wines.

Robert Gomez wears many hats—he's a sommelier, musician and bartender at Passatempo Taverna in Walla Walla. He's also a winemaker and owns his own winery, Hoquetus Wine.

We asked Robert for some recipes for his favorite quarantine cocktails, advice on how to stock a home bar, and how Passatempo's pay-it-forward campaign is helping feed Walla Walla Valley—one lasagna at a time!

What do you miss most about being behind the bar?

I miss showing my guests a good time but I also miss my work family, we really spend a lot of time together working to create a memorable experience for our guests and ever since the shutdown, I haven't seen hardly anyone!

However, since my wine released last week I am starting to get out more by doing deliveries. And although it’s usually just a wave from behind the window or a text message, it's really nice to connect with people again and be able to put something delicious in their glass.

What basics should every home bar stock?

I think this really depends on what you like to drink but, if I had to make a list of essentials for a great overall home bar:

  1. Spirits: Get some of your favorite high quality spirits. For versatility, I’d get a Whiskey, a Gin, a Rum, a Brandy and a Tequila. Don’t feel the need to get every brand out there but do get some good stuff!
  2. Vermouth: High quality vermouths are not only great in drinks but good on their own! You’re going to want at least 1 French (dry) and 1 Italian (sweet).
  3. Liqueur: Liqueur can bring not only sweetness but also flavor and complexity. If you're only going to stock just a few though, I’d go with a curaçao or triple sec like Pierre Ferrand or Cointreau respectively, a bottle of Luxardo Maraschino, (definitely a classic worth having on hand) and Campari.
  4. Bitters: The trifecta is the way: aromatic bitters such as Angostura, Peychauds and orange such as Fee Brothers.
  5. Fresh / Pantry Staples: Yes, you’re going to need some fresh citrus: lemon, lime and orange (go organic when you can), seltzer, tonic and sugar.

Get a bar together like this and you are ready to rock! You can make quite a lot of classics here: Martinis, Daiquiris, Manhattans, Negronis, Gimlets, Sidecars, Rickeys, High-Balls, Margaritas, Improved Cocktails, oh my! Not bad for 9 or 10 bottles.

If you’re looking for something more compact, I suggest picking a favorite drink recipe, for instance a Negroni, and start with those three bottles (gin, campari, sweet vermouth) and branch out from there bringing other bottles in little by little to build your bar as you go through other recipes.

Hoquetus wine label designs by artist Cameron Cox.

The artwork on the wine bottles at Hoquetus is so beautiful and unique. Can you tell us about the artist that you worked with to design the label and the collaboration in bringing the label to life?

The label art for Hoquetus was created for us by Cameron Cox, an artist based out of Brooklyn, New York. We used to be neighbors in a small college town in Denton, Texas, where I lived before moving to Washington State. I became familiar with her work by seeing photos of her paintings on her Instagram , and I immediately fell in love with them. The mystery, elegance and grace of her work perfectly fits with the wine I had envisioned. I can’t imagine a better artistic representation for Hoquetus.

How did Passatempo Taverna's pay it forward campaign come about?

The program was inspired by some of the great things the Seattle restaurant community was doing to help folks that were impacted by COVID-19, especially those in the hospitality industry. We take donations via the website and offer free meals to those that have been impacted, which is quite a lot of people here in the Walla Walla Valley. The program has really worked out and we couldn't be more pleased with the results. So far, we have provided 50 lasagnas—each feeding 10-12 people!

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