We recently took a short drive up to Torrington, CT to meet with Dylan Jefferis at Brinx Kitchen and Bar. The cozy establishment prides itself on serving craft cocktails along with small plates & tapas. Dylan made us two amazing cocktails as he told us a bit about his background and how Brinx came to be. If you love inventive cocktails with beautiful presentation, make sure to pay Brinx Kitchen & Bar a visit!
Batchers: Where do you work and what’s your role?
Jefferis: Hi, I’m Dylan Jefferis and I am part-owner and manager of Brinx Kitchen and Bar in Torrington, CT.
Batchers: How long have you been working as a bartender? How did you get started in the business?
Jefferis: I have been a bartender for about 6 years. I got my start behind the bar at Sawyers Bar and Grill here in Torrington. At the time, I was recovering from a badly broken femur after a bad car accident, which required me to re-learn how to walk normally again. I had some prior experience in the restaurant business and figured it would wise to work someplace where I was already familiar with what the job required. I applied for a busser/cook position and by luck was hired as a day bartender and a bar back on weekends. I remember feeling extremely anxious and nervous. Working behind the bar is a completely different universe compared to working in the kitchen. I had to quickly memorize all the draft beers and bottles, cocktails, and learn how to change a keg, work a POS and all the rest. It was one of the most exciting, as well as the most nerve-racking times in my early career.
Batchers: Tell us about your establishment, Brinx Kitchen and Bar. Why did you choose Torrington and how has the community responded since you opened?
Jefferis: In 2018, my friend and I opened Brinx Kitchen and Bar in downtown Torrington, CT. We decided on the location simply because it was situated right on Main Street across from the Warner Theatre and part of the cool downtown scene that includes a great community of restaurants, bars and art galleries. Throughout the years, we built a nice following and received a lot of positive feedback. I feel like people really enjoy having a craft cocktail bar in town that feels like a welcoming neighborhood dive. Working with my co-owner Joey Collabella, our mission is to deliver properly made cocktails at affordable prices.
Batchers: What piece of advice do you wish you had received before opening your own establishment?
Jefferis: If I were to go back and give myself some advice I’d probably say wait a little longer and take my time. Looking back, in the excitement of it all, I think we rushed a little bit and perhaps we should have opened when we were a little more comfortable and even more prepared. Also, be sure to gain more experience in management and business—it is critical to success. Luckily, I have been able to find the right resources and help over the years, but it was extremely tough and at times I felt completely lost. I also wish that I took more to time travel and work abroad while in my twenties—it would have been both fun and helpful to bring back inspiration from other cultures.
Batchers: What separates a good cocktail from a great one? What tips would you give novice cocktail makers who are trying to improve their skills at home?
Jefferis: I believe the difference between a good cocktail and a great one has to do with proper technique and having the right tools and equipment. I encourage novice cocktail connoisseurs to read as many books as possible–learn as much as you can about the classic cocktails, learn all the history. Finally, it’s really important to incorporate fresh ingredients in your cocktails and ensure all ingredients are in balance.
Batchers: What is your favorite Litchfield Distillery spirit to work with?
Jefferis: Personally, I am not a fan of big-brand flavored vodkas because of what I’d call, their “manufactured, artificial flavor.” But Litchfield Distillery’s flavored vodkas are made with local Connecticut fruit, picked in season when perfectly fresh and ripe. It seems rare to find flavored vodkas made this way and you can really taste and smell the difference. They are superb to drink and to build craft cocktails with.
Batchers: What does The Spirit of Hard Work® mean to you?
Jefferis: The Spirit of Hard Work to me embodies passion, love, and dedication to your craft—everyday, no mater what.
Dylan’s featured cocktail is the Holiday Thin Mint. It is wonderfully balanced, creamy and complex, minty and beautifully presented.
1.25 oz. Litchfield Distillery Vodka
.5 oz. Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao
.5 oz. Tempus Fugit White Crème de Menthe
.25 oz. Fernet Menta
Dash of Cane Sugar Syrup
1.0 oz. Heavy Cream
Matcha & Vanilla Whipped Cream
Chocolate & Mint Sprig for Garnish
Method: Combine all ingredients into shaker, add ice and reverse dry shake. Strain into 10-12 oz. glass and top with Matcha Whipped Cream. Grate chocolate over top and add mint sprig. Serve with mint chocolate cookies.
Dylan offered to make us a second cocktail and we didn’t take a second before we said, go for it! We’re glad he made the suggestion. This Rock Bottom cocktail is a tiki-inspired drink that features our award-winning Gin and is packed with an amazing mix of awesome flavors. And, how can anyone resist Dylan’s creative presentation?
1.25 oz. Litchfield Distillery Gin
.5 oz. Rhum JM
.25 oz. Velvet Fallernum
.50 oz. Lime Juice
1.5 oz. Pineapple Juice
1 Dash Absinthe
3 Dashes Angostura Bitters
.5 oz. Passion Fruit Syrup
.5 oz. Coconut Cream
Barspoon Pitaya Powder
Pineapple and Mint Leaves
Method: Combine all ingredients into shaker and shake 15-20 seconds. Strain into tiki mug with crushed ice. Garnish with Pitaya Powder, a tiki umbrella, Pineapple Leaves, and Mint.
Please follow Brinx Kitchen & Bar online on Facebook or Instagram or stop by the restaurant located at 53 Main Street, Torrington, CT. To learn more or to make a reservation, call 860-201-4179.
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