Ambition and a natural talent in the corporate world led Susan Hasslinger to her success at Leaning Ladder Premium Olive Oils and Vinegars.

Her grandmother, Bessie Lee, ran her own restaurant, which influenced Susan’s instinctive capacity for running a business. Susan pursued the aspiration to launch her own business, allowing her to create healthy meals, serve wine, and embrace her community.

Bessie sold milkshakes in her roadside restaurant. Her vintage milkshake machine has since found its new home in the downtown Woodstock Leaning Ladder location. Although it is rarely used at Leaning Ladder, its legacy, like Bessie’s, lives on.

In 2013 the Leaning Ladder tasting boutique first opened its doors in downtown Woodstock, and then in 2020, introduced a cooking studio offering even more products and services. It features wines, extra virgin olive oils, infused and fused olive oils, gourmet foods, and balsamic vinegars. Fused olive oils are a fusion of flavors created when olive oil is crushed along with the whole fruit of lemons, oranges, herbs, or peppers. Infused olive oil has its flavor infused after the oil is extracted from the olives. Also in 2020 Leaning Ladder opened a booth inside the Cotton Mill Exchange at The Mill on Etowah.

An abundance of classes—hands-on and demonstrations—at Leaning Ladder allow patrons to explore new dishes. In a hands-on class, groups cook together with assistance and guidance from a professional chef instructor with step-by-step instructions on a menu of choice. Knife skills are taught as well. In demonstration classes, a chef instructor stands at the front of the class and demonstrates how to cook the dishes. With little to no hands-on experience, the classes are still interactive, and questions are recommended. Once each course is prepared, students can eat it and receive the recipes before they leave.

Susan explains, “Since we opened our doors it’s always been about giving superior customer service and connecting our customers to high-quality gourmet olive oil and balsamic vinegar products from around the globe. Many people feel we are the perfect place to find a scrumptious gift. Others stock their pantries with our products to help make ordinary meals memorable. We are a little best-kept secret in Cherokee County.”


Market Recipes Leaning Ladder Olive Oil and Vinegar Rustic Greek Panzanella Salad | Photo Credit: Raymond Werner for Enjoy Cherokee Magazine


  • 4 tbsp. Leaning Ladder Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp. Leaning Ladder Garlic Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp. Leaning Ladder Champagne Wine Vinegar
  • ¼ cup sliced shallot or red onion
  • 2 tbsp. finely chopped fresh herbs, flat-leaf parsley and/or basil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Tribeca Ovens French Baguette, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 3 to 4 oz. feta cheese, cubed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cut into small wedges
  • 1 small cucumber, cut into chunks
  • ½ large red or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks
  • ½ cup black or kalamata olives, pitted
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. To make the dressing, combine Leaning Ladder Champagne Wine Vinegar, shallot (or onion), salt and pepper, clove of garlic, Leaning Ladder Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and fresh herbs in a small bowl. Whisk thoroughly until combined. Set aside.
  2. Then, heat Leaning Ladder Garlic Olive Oil in a frying pan. Add the Tribeca Ovens French Baguette cubes and cook until golden on all sides. Combine the cooked bread cubes and all the remaining salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently but thoroughly. Serve at room temperature.

PRINT RECIPE: Leaning Ladder Rustic Greek Panzanella Salad



Market Recipes Leaning Ladder Olive Oil and Vinegar Neapolitan Herb Chicken | Photo Credit: Raymond Werner for Enjoy Cherokee Magazine


  • ¼ cup Leaning Ladder Neapolitan Herb Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs
  • 3 to 4 tbsp. Leaning Ladder Garlic Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Charmaine’s Bread Dip or ½ teaspoon dried oregano and ½ teaspoon dried basil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

This recipe works well on the grill, too! Make sure the grill is hot and chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees.


  1. In a bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic, oregano, and basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a gallon-size ZipLoc bag combine balsamic vinegar mixture and chicken. Marinate for an hour, turning the bag occasionally. Drain the chicken from the marinade before baking.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil an ovenproof baking pan/dish and add the marinated chicken pieces; discard the extra marinade. Place baking pan into oven and roast chicken until completely cooked through, about 20 to 30 minutes. Serve hot over rice or vegetables garnished with additional drizzle of balsamic vinegar, parsley, or green onion, if desired.

PRINT RECIPE: Leaning Ladder Neapolitan Herb Chicken



Market Recipes Leaning Ladder Olive Oil and Vinegar Lemongrass-Mint Mojito | Photo Credit: Raymond Werner for Enjoy Cherokee Magazine


  • 4-6 fresh mint leaves plus a sprig for garnish
  • 1 ½ tbsp. simple syrup*
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 2 oz. light rum club soda
  • 1 tbsp. Leaning Ladder Lemongrass-Mint White Balsamic Vinegar

Make simple syrup using eight ounces of water plus one cup of granulated sugar. Bring the water to a simmer in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and stir until it completely dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat. Set aside to cool to room temperature.


  1. Place mint, simple syrup, lime juice, and Lemongrass-Mint White Balsamic Vinegar in a highball glass. Using a wooden muddler or back of a wooden spoon, muddle mint, syrup, juice, and vinegar together to form a good syrup.
  2. Fill glass with ice cubes. Pour in rum and stir. Top off with club soda and mix one more time. Garnish with a sprig of mint.

PRINT RECIPE: Leaning Ladder Lemongrass-Mint Mojito






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