The Modern Margarita at The Matheson’s Rooftop 106
Sonoma’s locals and visitors are pretty excited about Chef Dustin Valette’s new dining establishment The Matheson with its raised supper experience, spirited rooftop scene (Roofing system 106) and wall of 88 enomatic red wine dispensers– but what it might become legendary for its 100% crystal clear Modern Margarita. “It’s tequila and science,” quips Valette who together with his White wine and Beverage Manager Jon McCarthy, concocted what is perhaps the most delicious, gorgeous, mouth-watering margarita in America.
Served in a rocks glass, emblazoned with a single swath of salt up one side and topped with a piece of dehydrated lime, the mixed drink is a visual ploy that disguises the drink’s extraordinary concentration of taste. It’s a mix of tequila, agave, and clarified lime however when asked how they did it, Valette is coy, “We are protective of how we developed the dish; it took a very long time to come to fruition, to get the aesthetically appealing crystal quality and that depth of flavor, and scale it for demand.”
One thing they do acknowledge, the lime is completely deconstructed in a centrifuge. McCarthy and Valette, who spoke with me through teleconference, explain that clarified lime juice is a holy grail in high-end bartending. States McCarthy, “Some things are a lot easier to clarify, for example, tomatoes you can just let rest, but lime is another story, and discovering a workaround for lime juice was something we’ve been dealing with for a while.”
Chef/Owner of The Matheson, Dustin Valette
Valette interjects here, “Jon is downplaying just how much work the team did on this. They did SO much R & & D; simply a ludicrous quantity, however I did get to consume a lot so I wasn’t dissatisfied about that.” And, adds Valette, they go through a great deal of limes, “mucho limes. We are definitely keeping some citrus farmers in service.”
There is no concern that you’ll be ordering food to accompany your Modern Margarita, the cooking temptations are lots of. Valette’s dining establishment is an experience in 3 parts: fine dining on the mail level at The Matheson, sushi kitchen area and wine lounge on the mezzanine and Roofing 106– the roof space which serves a more casual menu of pizzas and bites.
Entrance to The Matheson
Attempt the margarita with their timeless pepperoni pizza (note: all of their pizza dough is made with a distinct yeast strain sourced from the famous Kosta-Browne winery) which gets an elegant lift with smoked mozzarella, crushed tomato, honey and Thai basil. Ditto the soulful bites such as spiced fragile squash with sage crema. McCarthy likes the margarita best with the Hawaiian pizza which is made up with a lovely sauce of habanero and pineapple to lend a piquant sweet taste. “We complete it with house-cured bacon, onions from our garden, and regional cheese,” states Valette.
The word on The Matheson is out and it’s good. Whether you come for a celebratory location dining experience downstairs or a crazy-cool margarita and pizza upstairs, Valette and his team have produced an all-in-one location for food and drink enthusiasts of every stripe– now that’s an accomplishment.