In this edition of Mixology Spirit we visit with MeKayla Roy to learn about her love for cocktail making. She works at Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen in West Hartford. The restaurant offers an innovative menu, drawing influence and inspiration from North Africa, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Turkey and Greece. MeKayla made us a drink called the Urfa Collins. You’ll see that she is inspired by the same Mediterranean influences, which makes her custom craft cocktails the perfect complement to the restaurant’s menu.
Batchers: Where do you work and what is your role?
MeKayla: I’m a team member at Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen in West Hartford, CT. Most people seem to think I am the Bar Manager, but we actually don’t have a bar manager at Zo. I’m one of the five bartenders on staff.
Batchers: What does Bartending offer you that most other jobs cannot?
MeKayla: For me, flexibility is key. I like to travel often and explore what other markets are doing in the restaurant industry. I love that I can request time off and switch shifts, if necessary. I feel a certain peace of mind that comes with bartending. With my skills, I believe I can bartend anywhere in the world. I never really worry about being out of a job. I also love the inherent creativity and hands-on approach you have to have with bartending. I’ve constantly searched for a creative outlet that felt right and once I found bartending, I had that “ah-ha!” moment–this is it!
Batchers: Bartending is a tough job. Any horror stories from being behind the bar?
MeKayla: Bartending is tough, that’s for sure. I wouldn’t say I have any horror stories, though. One of the toughest things about bartending is you have to always be “on” even when you may not be feeling your best. It can be hard on your mental health. Being aware of that and taking proper care of yourself is key to being your best self in front of your guests.
Batchers: What is your “go to” Litchfield Distillery spirit and why?
MeKayla: I would have to say the Batchers’ Vodka. For the most part, I am an infrequent vodka drinker. But, an ex-boyfriend of mine persuaded me to try some of Litchfield Distillery’s vodka on the rocks and it’s delicious; very smooth with a pleasant creaminess.
Batchers: What does The Spirit of Hard Work® mean to you?
MeKayla: The first thing that comes to mind is a memory of my father. When I was young, I remember him telling my sister and me to never judge someone by their job. He was speaking in reference to a garbage man we just passed on the street. Everyone has their own route to success, and everyone experiences struggle along the way. When you find that one thing that gets you excited to learn (like bartending did for me), you’ll put 100% effort into it. If you have that, everything becomes an opportunity to advance or improve on what you already know.
Batchers: What advice would you give an up-and-coming bartender?
MeKayla: Never be afraid to ask questions. Never be afraid to look or sound “new.” Someone who is eager to learn and improve might be more valuable and have more potential than someone with several years of experience who’s looking for another gig. Lastly, pay close attention to the small details, or the things you may think no one will notice. That passion for perfection always stands out and can make the biggest impressions with your customers.
How to make the Urfa Collins by MeKayla Roy:
Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake to mix. Strain into glass with ice, top with club soda. Garnish with lime wheel coated in Urfa.
Follow MeKayla online on Facebook and Instagram. Learn more about Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen on their website.
About Mixology Spirit:
Mixology Spirit is a Litchfield Distillery blog series dedicated to sharing the stories of creative and passionate mixologists who embody The Spirit Of Hard Work®. Think you got what it takes to be featured? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2019 Litchfield Distillery. Photography & Editing Credits: Tony Vengrove