Bartender Takeover is a new blog series by Litchfield Distillery aimed to help support our local bartenders during the Covid-19 crisis. Since the launch of Litchfield Distillery, bartenders have been there for us, now it’s our turn to support them. The way it works is we invite a bartender to take over our social media for a few days. They can post recipes, videos, tips…whatever they want. We pay them a stipend and we invite the broader community to “tip ’em.” The way to do that is by visiting the Go Tip Em website, scroll down to Connecticut and click on your bartender’s payment method. We invite you to rally around the bartender community during this time and reward their Spirit of Hard Work!
Post #1: Lessons from Ireland
“I took a risk last year. I quit my job bartending at Zohara that I loved and jumped on a flight to Ireland to feed the wanderlust in me. Ireland wasn’t new to me. I grew up visiting Ireland because of family and knew one day I would try to live there myself. It’s true when people say, “there’s never a right time,” so I packed up and left. I was based in Galway, where my family is from and quickly started to network with as many hospitality folks as I could find.
I was nervous about leaving my hospitality family behind in the States. But luckily, it did not take long to find an extended family abroad. I didn’t know what to expect. While many things surprised me, both good and bad, my overall experience was extremely rewarding.
The Irish are intuitively hospitable people. They’ll talk your ear off, but in a way that makes you want them to keep going. And if you’re lucky enough to hear them sing, sing along! I can’t say I learned anything new about Irish whiskey or the like, but I think what I came home with is even more rewarding for my career in the hospitality industry. I learned how to welcome new friends. I learned how to look in someone’s eyes when conversing. Most importantly, I learned how to really, truly listen.
I was embraced with open arms by complete strangers. To me, they all were just another extension of my home. Not my physical location of home, but my hospitality home. It was natural, comfortable and helped cement why this industry means so much to me.
In times like these, I can’t help but feel grief for all my friends that have lost their jobs due to COVID-19. But with companies like Litchfield Distillery giving back to our community, it’s a constant reminder of the hospitality that this industry still has to offer. While our bars may be closed, our hearts remain open and our hospitality family will grow stronger because of it. I think I can safely speak for all of us when I say we can’t wait to welcome you back into our homes.
I look forward to sharing some cocktail recipes with you over the coming days. Stay tuned!”
Post #2: Let’s Make a Shrub
“What to do when you’ve come to the upsetting moment when it’s time for a cocktail and you reach for your citrus and realize, you’ve run out?! In order to balance the cocktail you had in mind, you know that some sort of citrus is required to brighten and balance it. I’m going to teach you a trick for substituting that citrus for another acidic ingredient that you probably already have lying around the house.
It’s probably not something you ever thought about putting in a cocktail, but vinegars can easily replace the use of citrus in cocktails. Vinegars are used in what are called “shrubs,” which is simply a mix of fruit, sugar and vinegar. You can make a vinegar shrub at home by following these simple steps:
Take 1 part vinegar and 1 part sugar and mix until sugar is dissolved. Add the fruit/spices of your choosing and let the mixture macerate to soak up all the flavor. Strain and store in the fridge.
Note: Steer clear of aged vinegars like balsamic and malt as these can be heavily concentrated. White, apple and red wine vinegars are good starting points.
Not only will a shrub act as an acid substitute in cocktails, but it can also the source of your sugar as well. Now that you have this shrubhandy, just remember the “3-2-1” rule when building a cocktail at home. In a highball glass with ice add 3 parts club soda (or something bubbly and dry), 2 parts Litchfield Distillery Vodka or Litchfield Distillery Gin, and 1 part of your homemade shrub. Stir with a straw or spoon to fully incorporate and voila! Let us know what homemade shrubs you experiment with at home!”~ MeKayla
Watch how it’s done!
Post #3: Let’s Make a Dalgona Coffee!
“I’ve decided to hop on the Dalgona coffee trend and I’m so glad I did! It’s smooth, delicious and decadent enough to satisfy those indulgent cravings. This drink has origins in India, Pakistan, and Macau, where it is also known as whipped coffee or beaten coffee. For me, texture is a critical attribute in anything I drink. While there are many textures I can’t stand, I love anything that is whipped, light and airy–and that’s exactly the texture in Dalgona coffee.
To make a classic Dalgona coffee, all you need is instant coffee, sugar, warm water & milk.
In a jar, mix together 1 tbsp. each of the instant coffee, sugar and warm water. Whip until blended. I recommend using a whisk because it helps to aerate the mixture. In a separate glass, pour either warm milk or cold milk over ice and spoon the Dalgona coffee on top. I like to stir it until it’s halfway incorporated together.
For a boozier treat, use the instructions above and add 1.5 oz. of Litchfield Distillery Vanilla Bourbon to your milk base. Stir and you’ve got yourself a delicious pick-me-up! If you don’t have a bottle of Vanilla Bourbon on hand, try their Maple Bourbon or Straight Bourbon Whiskey –either of these will work fine.
PRO TIP: It’s great for desserts! Spoon your whipped coffee over your favorite ice cream for a sweet treat. (And trying adding some Litchfield Distillery Bourbon on top as well because…bourbon!!)
Check out this video I made and see how simple it is to make a Dalgona Coffee! Cheers, MeKayla”
Post #4: Hope For The Day
“Hey friends! I wanted to take a different path today and tell you about an organization that is close to my heart. Hope For The Day is a non-profit focused on proactive suicide prevention through outreach and mental health education. Please bear with me for a second while I share some grim statistics.
“On average, 121 people a day take their own lives in the United States, totaling over 44,000 each year. When looking at it globally, that number climbs to over 800,000 each year, with many going unreported due to social stigma. Every 40 seconds, someone completes suicide.”
After reading that, I was shook to my core. Although I have dealt with and still deal with mental health issues, I’ve personally never been to that point. But let’s face it, there’s a high chance we all know someone or are that someone reading at home. In a time like this, where we are all quarantined alone with our thoughts, I think it’s more important than ever to remind yourself that it’s okay to not be okay. I shared a few slides including signs that someone may need support and ways that you can be supportive. I would like to point out that I am in no way a mental health professional. These slides are educational resources through the Hope For The Day non-profit organization.
I’d like to share that I’ll be donating 20% of all tips/stipend I receive from doing this Litchfield Distillery takeover to Hope For The Day. Thank you for listening and as always, reach out to me via Instagram or Facebook with any questions, thoughts or just to say hey!
Stay tuned for my final post tomorrow, which will return to some cocktail tips. Be well! ~ MeKayla
Post #5: Make Your Own Sugar or Salt Rim
“For me, the best part of a margarita is the salt or sugar rim that enhances the taste while drinking it. In honor of Litchfield Distillery’s launch of the Batcherita, I’ve put together a few fool-proof rim blends you can make on your own at home! To use, simply dip the rim of your glass into a liquid (I use lime juice) and then dip the rim into your salt/sugar blend. Pour your Batcherita over ice into your glass and enjoy!
Homemade Tajin is a tangy lime salt with just a touch of heat.
- – Dehydrate lime husks in your oven at 170 for 4 hours. The time and temp may need to be adjusted accordingly to your oven.
- – Blend dehydrated lime husks in a coffee grinder/blender until powder form.
- – Blend crushed red pepper flakes in coffee grinder/blender until powder form.
- – In bowl, mix 2 tsp. lime powder, 1 tsp. red pepper flake powder and 1 tbsp. kosher salt.
Spicy Curry Salt
- – Dehydrate sliced jalapeños in your oven at 170 for 3 hours. The time and temp may need to be adjusted accordingly to your oven.
- – Blend dehydrated jalapeños in a coffee grinder/blender until powder form.
- – In bowl, mix 1 tsp. jalapeños powder, .5 tsp. curry powder and 2 tsp. kosher salt.
Chocolate Coffee Sugar – this is a great use of coffee grounds you would normally throw out.
- – In bowl, mix .25 tsp. cocoa powder, .5 tsp. spent coffee grounds and 1 tbsp. sugar and a pinch of salt.
Banana Sugar – I saved the best for last!
- – Lay banana peels on baking tray and rub with a few dashes of vanilla extract.
- – Dehydrate peels in oven at 170 for 5 hours. The Time and temp may need to be adjusted accordingly to your oven.
- – Blend dehydrated peels in coffee grinder/blender until powder form.
- – In bowl, mix 1 tbsp. banana powder, 2 tbsp. sugar and a heavy pinch of salt.
I hope that throughout the week I could give you a good insight of how I like to think, live & work. I’m so thankful to Litchfield Distillery for giving me the chance to share my thoughts and ideas. Thank you to everyone that has tipped me because of this. I am grateful. Stay safe. Stay sane. With love, MeKayla”
HELP SUPPORT MEKAYLA WHILE BARS & RESTAURANTS ARE CLOSED!
To help MeKayla out during this unusual time, please consider leaving her a tip on Go Tip Em. It’s a website set up to make it easy to send cash to your favorite bartenders. When you click on the website, just scroll down to the Connecticut section and look for MeKayla’s name.