Calling the Shots

In December 2022/January 2023, Eat by Melissa HowsamLeave a Comment

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Voting is still open for Raleigh Magazine’s Best Bars—including the first-ever highly competitive Best Bartender Award! For our annual Best Bars Issue, vote for your favorite bars across a range of categories (Overall, Sports, Whiskey and more), including Best Overall—and, new this year, cast your vote for the best in-town ’tender from a cast of highly curated crafty nominees. No doubt all 16 have earned their stirring stripes—but which one takes the top spirited award? The choice is yours. Voting for Best Bartender (and Best Bars) ends Dec. 15. Go have a drink—or 16—raise a glass to the city’s best bartenders of 2022, and rock the vote. Then stay tuned for our February Best Bars Issue. Rock(s) on.

Go Vote!

Q: Cocktail you most love mixing for people?

Greg Ewan, Aunty Betty’s, @auntybettysbar

“My favorite to make for people is the 4:1 martini with blanc vermouth instead of dry. Using blanc vermouth adds body and balance to a drink usually restricted to being a super-dry booze-bomb or just a glass full of olive brine (not to say I don’t like both of those too). My preference is 2 oz. Nikka Coffey gin, .5 oz Yzaguirre blanco reserva, and eucalyptus bitters with a lime twist.”

Preddy, Bittersweet, @bittersweetraleigh

“Any classic cocktail I can talk them into substituting a gin for really. Like a Perfect Manhattan made with No. 209 Chardonnay-Barrel Rested gin. I feel like classic cocktails are often overlooked. When people come into Bittersweet thinking they don’t like gin, I want to change their minds… and I’ve got a 100% success rate.”

Colby Kress, Dram & Draught, @dramanddraught; @colorblindchameleon3

“A classic Negroni (1 part gin, 1 part sweet vermouth, 1 part Campari)… I enjoy the Negroni because it is simple, well balanced and you can get one at pretty much any bar you go too. It is also one of the first cocktails I learned how to make when I first started bartending so it has a special place in my heart.”

Daniel “Rico” Tallarico, Flask Cocktail Bar, @flaskcocktailbar

The Flask Old-Fashioned

Kyle Hankin, Foundation, @foundation_bar

“I love making people a proper martini because they’re incredible: 1 part dry vermouth, 2 parts gin, 1 dash orange bitters, 1 pinch of salt—as cold as you can stir it, lemon twist.”

Taylor Sullivan, The Haymaker, @haymakerraleigh

“The Devil in a Blue Dress (2 oz. tequila, .5 oz. lemon, 1 oz. simple, .5 oz. Blue Curacao, 5 drops Remedy Cocktail Company chocolate chili bitters, an egg white): I’ve always loved using egg whites in drinks. It has a way of blending all of the flavors and enriching the texture.”

Kat Binkley, Killjoy, @killjoycocktail

“Any sort of fun whiskey sour made traditional style with egg white! It’s super-rewarding to convince someone to have an open mind and ‘just try it.’ They end up loving it every time! Lately I’ve been doing a blood orange variation called Orange You Something with a spiced blood orange reduction I make in our kitchen.”

Doug “Dug” Wheeler, Libations 317, @libations317; @dugdubya

“Hanky Panky (gin, sweet vermouth and fernet Branca): “[I love] the simplicity and versatility of pairing vermouths and gins, highlighting different nuanced flavors within both—and the fernet rinse provides aromatics that let the depth of flavor stand out.”

Rebekah Hayes, The Longleaf Lounge, @thelongleaflounge

“I love mixing my Negroni-adjacent cocktail, Suspiria (named after my favorite horror flick). It’s made up of Del Maguey Vida mezcal, Cynar, Carpano Antica and some drops of a Hellfire habanero shrub. It’s a well balanced, sweet, bitter, fiery, little thing that will keep your taste buds on their toes!”

Cynthia Valverde, The Merchant, @themerchantnc

“The Negroni is a classic cocktail and along with it being a delicious libation, it’s my favorite—but also a favorite of one of the most influential luminaries in my eyes, Anthony Bourdain! As he would say, the drink will ‘hit you like a freight train after four or five.’ It is an easy drink to make, and to make well!”

Brad Froeschle, The Raleigh Times, @raleightimesbar

“Old-Fashioned (bourbon, bitters, simple syrup and orange peel): I like the simplicity, the process and, of course, I love bourbon!!”

Taylor Martinez, Vidrio, @vidrioraleigh

“My favorite cocktail to make for guests is a gimlet. It’s a classic cocktail with only three ingredients (2 oz. gin, 1 oz. lime, .75 oz. simple; shaken and double-strained, and served in a coupe with an expressed lime twist), but the type of gin you pick is the fun part. There are so many botanicals to choose from, and each is its own experience.”

Jacob Morey, Watts & Ward, @wattsandward

“Last Word (gin, lime juice, luxardo maraschino liqueur, green Chartreuse): Gin has been taking over in terms of popularity. The Last Word cocktail has everything from sweet to herbal to citrusy taste to make even non-gin drinkers wanna try this cocktail out. It’s by far my favorite gin cocktail and my go-to drink to make for guests.”

Johnny Berry, Whiskey Kitchen,

“The Scofflaw: Prohibition era cocktail that has historical context and is so universally balanced that I can give it to established whiskey drinkers and beginners, and both can appreciate it for its character and approachability.”

Mike Saunders, William & Company (Willco), @willcobar

“Onza margarita—a mezcal-based cocktail in which you can taste every component, from the sweetness of the dill, tart of the lime and the saltiness of the salted agave. It’s my favorite cocktail to mix and talk about.”

Zac Rogerson, Wye Hill Brewing, @wyehill

“Clear Eyes Can’t Lose: It’s my clarified milk punch. There are 19 different ingredients, including two types of rum, bourbon, brandy, pineapples, star anise, and coffee beans. I love making this cocktail because it takes five days to make the base, and three to four hours to clarify. But once the cocktail is done, all you have to do is stir on ice and serve!”

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