Holli Medley, who opened Cardinal, thinks back to friends when she stirs a Negroni, especially a smoky version. “I first tried the Desert Negroni when visiting a fellow bartender and friend during his bar shift one night,” she said. “His drinks were amazing. He had passion, finesse and fire in his every step, and, heartbreakingly, passed away not long after that night. Today, the strong and bittersweet cocktail reminds me of easier days and lighter hearts, but to always pour some out for lost friends.”
Freelance bartender Tiffanie Barriere remembers her first amaretto sour. “As a young drinker, it was all about being able to order something that sounded cool and delicious. The flavor, color and smell that comes out from amaretto is unforgettable, and classic. ... Now, when one asks for an amaretto sour, it will most likely be made with an egg white, brandy or cognac, and never that bright cherry we used to place on top. However, it will always remind me of the feeling I had as a young drinker looking for my place at a bar.”
Bartender Demario Wallace, who started Social Civics Cocktail Club in 2020, gets nostalgic about daiquiris. Courtesy of Demario Wallace
Demario Wallace shifted gears during the pandemic, starting Social Civics Cocktail Club. Nostalgia for him is remembering growing up on the Gulf Coast. The colorful, frozen daiquiris swirling in machines on the pier at the beach made him drool. He also remembers cocktails in New York City, and “diving deep into rum, one daiquiri at a time, learning the intricacies of the world of spirit, and all of its unique characteristics.”
It all began with a mai tai for Krista Slater, partner and wine director of Athens’ Expat and the Lark Winespace. When she turned 21, her best friend’s parents made her a special dinner. “I had caviar for the first time! And, her father offered to make me a real grown-up drink,” she said. “He made us all a round of mai tais. They were the strongest thing I had ever tasted; I felt like my mouth was on fire. But, it also felt so sophisticated. One of the small but mighty life experiences that led me to the profession I’m in today, I figure.”
For Mercedes O’Brien, owner of Sippn at Home cocktail kits, and former beverage director for Gunshow and Cold Beer, nostalgia comes by way of a slightly dirty martini. “It was my weekly Monday or Sunday order at two of my favorite restaurants: the Colonnade and Highland Tap,” she said. She would go with her best friend, who since has moved away, “and it was always the perfect time to reconnect while watching the top-notch, no-guff women bartenders just dominate a busy service.”
For Talat Market beverage director Adrian Fessenden-Kroll, a frozen drink reminds her of home. “When my Mom wanted a cocktail, it was usually a frozen margarita. Back then, it was bottled margarita mix — just add tequila and ice to a blender. Before I was old enough to imbibe, I would get just the mix blended with ice (sans tequila) so I could have a ‘fancy’ frozen drink, too.”
Forza Storico bartender Jose Pereiro has fond memories of a special mezcal cocktail he created. Courtesy of Jose Pereiro
Forza Storico’s Jose Pereiro remembers a special mezcal cocktail that he once created. “Canoe Club is a cocktail that reminds me of the good times I had when I used to bartend along with my best friend, times that I don’t know if we will ever be able to re-create,” he said. The recipe for the drink, which has been “on every menu that I’ve put together,” was included in “Miami Cocktails,” by Gabriel Urrutia.
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