Welcome to 2020’s first edition of Mixology Spirit. We recently sat down with Amanda Palmer to experience some of the delicious cocktails she builds at Thomas Hooker Brewery at Colt. With the brewery’s diverse lineup of ales, IPAs and stouts at her fingertips, Amanda loves incorporating beer as a cocktail ingredient and creates unique, flavorful drinks that are not to be missed. She built us a cocktail called, the Boysenberry Blush, a fusion of Thomas Hooker Boysenberry Pulp’d (a Berliner Weisse) and Litchfield Distillery Vodka. Check out the recipe below!
Batchers: Where do you work and what is your role?
I am the Mixologist at Thomas Hooker Brewery at Colt, located in Hartford, Connecticut.
How long have you been working behind the bar?
It’s been about 6 years now. I started at PF Chang’s and was doing just about everything until I got promoted to bartender. I spent about three years there, honing my craft. Then, the opportunity at Thomas Hooker came my way and I’ve been here for about two years now, loving every minute.
What do you like about the profession?
I really love interacting with the people. Bartending is so much different than any other job I’ve had in the restaurant industry. When you’re behind the bar, it’s so engaging. You get to hear people’s stories, you get to meet people who are visiting town from all over the state and world. Every day is a new experience.
I love experimenting with ingredients and flavors to create new drink experiences. Working in a brewery creates an opportunity for me to incorporate Hooker’s various beers as a cocktail ingredient, which opens up a whole world of endless possibilities.
What is your favorite Litchfield Distillery spirit to work with?
I like using their Vodka when I’m making cocktails that include beer and don’t want the beer’s flavors to get overpowered. Litchfield Distillery’s Vodka is crisp, clean and smooth—perfect for mixing in cocktails. I also like their Straight Bourbon and used it recently to make a delicious cocktail that includes our Chocolate and Caramel Coffee Stouts, topped with some orange liqueur. That was a popular drink—so many complementary flavors to savor.
Do you have a particular philosophy when it comes to designing new drinks?
To be honest, I inspiration finds me somewhat randomly. An idea will pop into my head and I’ll just pull some bottles and ingredients and give it shot. It’s fun to do that and see what I like best, then get feedback from folks around the bar. Once I feel there’s real potential for a recipe, I’ll really hone in on it and fine-tune the recipe to perfect its balance. The unlimited creativity is what I love about the job.
What’s separates a great cocktail from merely a good cocktail?
Great cocktails require intent. Intent to marry ingredients properly so they showcase unique flavors in a complementary, well-balanced way. You don’t want ingredients to compete with each other or to overpower each other. It’s important to strive for a beautiful blend of flavors that create an extraordinary experience when you’re drinking it. The simpler, the better.
Got a story about a really hard night behind the bar?
It seems the hardest nights usually happen when we’re understaffed, when someone calls out last minute. I remember one such night and there was only one person in the kitchen, so I was running food out, checking in on tables, and working the bar. Of course, it was packed that night, shoulder-to-shoulder with people and only two bartenders. It was pretty intense. I don’t think I stood still the entire shift. Truth be told, I kind of like it when it’s that busy because you get to test yourself and see how much you can handle.
What does The Spirit of Hard Work® mean to you?
I embrace the spirit of hard work because it’s a statement of who I am. I always want to put my best self out there to the world…to go above and beyond and to prove to myself, and others, that I can do great things. At the end of the day, your work ethic says a lot about who you are and people are going to make judgments based on what they see you do and not do. Ultimately, I feel best about my work when I know I’ve given my work everything I have.
How to make the Boysenberry Blush:
Follow Amanda online on Instagram and Facebook or stop by Thomas Hooker Brewery at Colt to enjoy one of her delicious cocktails. To learn more about Thomas Hooker Brewery visit their Website and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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.
© 2020 Litchfield Distillery. Photography & Editing Credits: Tony Vengrove