Bar Manager of Mojo Tapas
3117 South Grand, South City
“A big part of mixology is tasting drinks and knowing what you’re putting out,” says Courtney Sedano while sitting in a booth at Mojo Tapas. She smiles brightly and you know she is the kind of bartender who would bend backwards to make sure you have the perfect experience sipping a drink at her bar.
“I love talking to people about my drinks, especially when people are excited as I am or as interested in what’s in the drink. Nine times out of 10, people are blown away and want to know what we’re using or how we are doing it.”
Courtney says that when crafting her cocktails she works with fresh ingredients like homegrown herbs and fresh squeezed juices. She laughs when asked if she considers herself a mixologist: “I don’t have any formal training but I guess I mix anything a so-called ‘mixologist’ does. I just make great cocktails.”
SIGNATURE DRINK – A Fleur-de-Lis: Pearl Cucumber Vodka, Chartreuse Green, Thatcher’s Elderflower Liquor and Fresh Lemon Juice.
Co-owner of Absolutli Goosed
3196 South Grand, South City
The martini is alive and well at Absolutli Goosed on South Grand and you have Robin Schubert to thank.
“For me, a perfect martini is vodka and a lime on the rocks,” says Robin. “But it depends on your personal taste. I couldn’t tell you what the perfect martini is because you might not like my taste.”
Bugs Bunny In Drag, Hey Squirrel and Robin Swallows are just a few of the crazy and funny names you’ll find on their libations list. Robin says that their current menu is a narrow version of more than 200 cocktail recipes they’ve collected over the years. But even with changes in drinking trends, Robin says that she grounds herself with classic cocktails and customer demand.
“I love craft cocktails and I love the movement but our customers won’t let us change the menu. We just want to keep them happy and give them what they expect from us. Trends will come and go but the classics will always stick around.”
SIGNATURE DRINK – A Pumpkin Pie Martini: Vanilla Vodka, Pumpkin Spice Liquor, Frangellico, Honey and Cream—topped off with whipped cream and cinnamon.
Bartender at Meyer’s Grove
4510 Manchester, The Grove
Everyday Phil Gill receives a crash course in Bartending 101.
“Everyday I pick up something new,” says Phil. “For example, you can tell a lot of what a drink is missing or what it needs just by smelling it. Smell is a big part of what we do and you’ll see a lot of us at Meyer’s Grove walking around with our mixing cups smelling them even more than we are tasting them to decide if the flavors are going to be right.”
We ask him to describe the taste palate of the Meyer’s Grove customer and he says the crowd has a sweeter palate that enjoys desert martinis or a fresh muddled strawberrytini.
“I might have something to do with the drag queen clientele, but then again, some of the queens come in and order a fireball so you never know!”
SIGNATURE DRINK – A Rummi Bear Martini: Black Cherry Cruzan Rum, Well Rum, Pineapple Juice, Sprite, Rum Soaked Gummie Bears and a Sugar Rim.
Owner at 609 Lounge and Hiro Sushi Restaurant
609 Eastgate Ave., Delmar Loop
“The bar is a dramatic stage!,” says Bernie Lee with a smile as he waves his hands. “It could be a love story, a jealousy, a stupid mistake…anything you could imagine happens at a bar.”
Bernie chats us up while sitting at the bar of his Delmar lounge and explains that he tries to introduce Asian alcohols like sake and soju into the American drinking palate through familiar flavors and drinks.
“Sake and soju definitely have unique tastes. They are quiet and some are really smooth and just like in scotch or vodka, there are different taste levels. It takes time for people to develop the palate to enjoy them… so we combine them with more appealing flavors like ginger, blood orange and lychee.”
SIGNATURE DRINK – A Lychee Blossom: Three Olives Rangtang, Blood Orange Liquor, Coconut and Lychee Water.
Junior Mixologist, The Block
146 West Lockwood Ave., Webster Groves
There are two things that Mandi Kowalski strongly dislikes.
“I don’t like whip cream on the top of my drinks and I have a strong distain for flavored vodkas,” she says with complete conviction.
Her philosophy on cocktail culture revolves around a holistic approach to a well crafted drink.
“Enjoying a drink is not just about the alcohol in the glass in front of you. It really is about the entire experience. I love it when someone comes up to the bar as opposed to having a drink delivered to a table because you get to ask them what they like and how they respond to what I make them.”
Recently, she’s been nerding out to David Wonrich’s annotated history of the mixed drink
“Before there were cocktails everything was made in large vats and poured into bowls and that’s how spirits were shared,” she explains. “Alcohol is all about camaraderie.”
SIGNATURE DRINK – The Gingered Pair: Pear Bell de Brillet, Meyer’s Spiced Rum, Grand Marnier, Ginger Syrup, Fresh Lime Juice, Fresh Lemon Juice and Garnished with a Pear and Candied Ginger.
4584 Laclede, Central West End
“I use a lot of my customers as guinea pigs when they come in for a drink,” admits Shannon Ponche.
But when your mentor is St. Louis’ master mixologist Ted Kilgore, it’s bound to be pretty easy to find willing test subjects. Shannon is building her career as a mixologist and bartender at TASTE in the CWE where she says the key to a great cocktailing experience is great customer service.
“You can make a great cocktail but the experience is how you get people to come back to your bar,” she explains. “If you have lousy service no one is going to want to come back. I’ve had great cocktails at bars where I had to ask to have my ice refilled. I think the best bartenders are the ones who you don’t have to ask them for anything.”
Shannon hopes to make it to New York one day and says she wants to build a name for herself in the competitive world of mixology by creating drinks that are unique and different.
“The best part for me is when I make a cocktail for somebody and it is perfect for them and they didn’t even know that they wanted it to begin with.”
SIGNATURE DRINK – A Rinse and Repeat: Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Sazerac Rye, Aperol, Punt E Mes, Absinthe Rinse.
General Manager of Kota Wood Fire Grill
522 North Grand Blvd., Midtown
“I don’t use recipes,” says Matt Bosley as he points to his head. “It’s all up here.”
He says the biggest challenge to running a bar in midtown is anticipating the different crowds that come through The Fox each night.
“Some nights it’s all wine, others it’s all beer. When Santana was in town we went through almost four cases of his tequila!”
Matt is a man of few words but you can tell he’s a pro when it comes to restaurant and bar service.
“I like to work when it is fast paced at the bar. I’m able to just do what I do.”
SIGNATURE DRINK – The Grand Flamingo: Strawberry Shake with Stoli Vanilla and Barcardi Dragon Berry.
BY: JOSHUA BARTON