By Kara Pound
From Costa Brava’s Mediterranean-inspired coastal cuisine in the main dining room to Café Cordova’s on-the-go light bites and coffee drinks to Cobalt Lounge’s handcrafted cocktails and New World martini menu, Casa Monica Resort &Spa offers a bit of something for everyone.
Built in 1888 and a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Historic Hotels of America, Casa Monica is a nod to the day’s of Gilded Age opulence complete with an ornate lobby with frescos, fountains and chandeliers. And did we mention cocktails? It’s the perfect place to unwind after a business meeting or to celebrate a night on the town.
Bartender Gina Metrakos has been mixing up classic libations since July of 2000 when she started at the hotel. With guests visiting from all over the world, Metrakos says cocktails made with the local St. Augustine Distillery spirits have become quite popular including the Costa Brava Daiquiri made with their Pot Distilled Rum, Florida Mule and Cobalt Martini made with Florida Cane Vodka and a Bees Knees with New World Gin.
For this edition of the “Perfect Pairings,” Metrakos mixed up a Traditional St. Augustine Manhattan using the St. Augustine Distillery’s Florida Double Cask Bourbon. “The sweetness of the Manhattan and warmth of the bourbon is a perfect complement to the saltiness, and caramel and molasses flavors of the steak,” she explained.
The steak Metrakos is referring to is Costa Brava’s popular Blue Cheese Beef Tenderloin served with stuffed peppers, roasted Cipollini onions and Castlevetrano olives. Executive Chef John Botkin said he chose to highlight this dish because it’s relatively easy for people to make at home.
“It’s a Mediterranean take on a classic dish,” Botkin said. “I’m working on bringing back a chophouse feel to the restaurant while taking away the starch component to certain entrees and adding more vegetables. It’s been working out great. We also have some seasonal changes coming up with our menu as well as holiday menus, which are always popular.”
To make the Traditional St. Augustine Manhattan and Blue Cheese Beef Tenderloin, check out these recipes.
Traditional St. Augustine Manhattan
1.5 ounces St. Augustine Florida Double Cask Bourbon
0.5 ounces sweet vermouth
3 dashes of classic bitters
Add the bourbon and sweet vermouth to a mixing glass full of ice. Stir for 30 seconds and strain into a coupe glass. Add three dashes of classic bitters like Angostura and garnish with a black cherry.
Blue Cheese Beef Tenderloin
6 ounces filet of beef
1 ounce Queso de Valdeón blue cheese, sliced
2 Cipollini onions, roasted
6 Castlevetrano olives
1 stuffed pepper
Sear the steak to your desired temperature. Heat up onions, olives and peppers. Place all ingredients in a small, handled cast iron pan. Top with blue cheese and melt.