Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Fortis Craft Spirits at White Dog Cafe

Fortis Craft Spirits
2300 Trumbauersville Rd
Quakertown, PA 18951
(215) 268-6071
White Dog Cafe
3420 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 386-9224
I was recently invited to try out a new local "craft" distillery that had a unique niche – they are shooting to be the well-liquor of choice in Philly. Never one to turn down free drinks (just ask about anyone), I figured it was worth a try. To double down, I asked the rep to meet me at the White Dog Cafe in University City, as I have been meaning to try the food Chef Josh Varquez is putting out (I had heard rumors of house cured jowl pastrami). I was surprised with how nice the building was, and the food was no slouch either.

Rum, Gin, and Vodka, are the standards at Fortis, and I had to sample them all. The have some flavored varieties as well, but I'm more of a cut and dry guy with my hard alcohols. Check out the basement dining area at White Dog in the background. Amazing.

They use Fortis in a variety of mixed drinks, such as the Snoopaloop for fall.

The rail is populated with a variety of Fortis products. Fortis is headquartered in Quakertown and is slowly spreading their product throughout the eastern, central and western parts of PA. Founded by a couple of Carnegie Melon grads, they have a good business plan and they know what they're doing.

You can see their interactive map here, and they expect to have 1L bottles in most PA wine & spirits shops before the end of the year. I mean, it's affordable with a great looking label, so I recommend trying this as your at-home well-drink (if you have a bar, I'm currently working on getting one in my basement...). In the meantime, they're having a Philadelphia launch/cancer research benefit in Northern Liberties this Friday night; get info here. Now on to the White Dog experience.

On the left is a Marmadaiq, with "Green Apple & Kiffir Lime Infused Fortis Rum, Lime, Cranberry Bitters, and Sugared Cranberries." Although I am a whiskey and beer type of guy, this was a refreshing drink. The Fortis tasted just as smooth as I would expect of any other mid-range rum.

The other drink was a Cowan's Hero, "Fortis Gin, Art in the Age Sage, Pear, Honey, Lime, Sage, Soda". This was a real winner. The sage flavor mixed well with the neutral gin, and the pear and honey added some fruity sweetness.

I then had the pleasure of trying some of Chef Varquez's favorites, starting with the short rib sliders. I am not usually a slider fan, but these things fixed all of the issues inherent in small sandwiches.

Look at the texture of this beef. The spicy cheddar was local and delicious, and the fried quail egg put this over the top. I was not left with any "bread only" bites, and could have eaten another six of these things.

At this point I transitioned to the cask Hop Devil, and Chef Josh transitioned to pastrami. From left – house cured beef pastrami, cold smoked salmon, and guanciale. Mixed in for toppings were some beet pickled quail eggs, pickled red onions, cornichons, whole grain mustard, and a caraway aioli.

My god, look at this pork cheek. Fatty, decadent, and speckled with dry rub, this literally melted in your mouth. This is not for those counting calories, and it was worth every fatty bite.

The salmon was fresh, with the texture of velvet, and the light smoke made for a great match with the caraway sauce.

Finally, the beef pastrami. This stuff was highly addictive. It was tough to beat the pork jowl, but this was a close match. Again, the tender fat kept this from being dry, and the attention to preparation was apparent.

One of my favorite parts was the ability to mix and match flavors and meat textures, with crisp pickles, tart onions, and flavorful spreads. I am hooked on the meats, and I am not ashamed to admit it.

Well done, White Dog Cafe. I'll be back soon.

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