Bartender Takeover with Christine Short

B.R.A.T. 19 Cocktail by Christine Short

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!

And with that, please welcome our first guest, Christine Short.

Post #1: Atole de Arroz

Christine Short of ZaragozaHi Friends! I’m Christine Short and I am the head bartender at Zaragoza in New Milford, CT. I’m excited to have a forum to connect with my customers again, and to meet some new friends!

During this difficult time, we may find ourselves with limited resources and supplies in our home kitchens. I thought for my first post that I would demonstrate how you can take different ingredients that you might have at home to make a new, interesting cocktail. Let’s face it, while enjoying classic cocktails are great, we all have some extra time on our hands now. Why not use some of it to create and try something new?

At my house, I had on hand some rice, water, lots of different spices, brown sugar, bourbon and a few old bananas. For this recipe, if you don’t have any bananas, that’s fine.

With these ingredients, I decided to make a version of a Mexican “Atole de Arroz,” or Mexican Rice Drink. It’s a drink traditionally served during the holiday season. I guess we can put a positive spin on the current situation and pretend we’re all on holiday. 🙂 I thought I’d also share this recipe as my plan is to visit Mexico when the pandemic is over, and considering the world is how it is now, I’m probably going to really treat myself and look for a private jet as my travel plans to and from Mexico, I’m already excited, hence the drinks! The recipe is usually is made from rice, vanilla, water or milk, canela (unprocessed cane sugar) and cinnamon. I wanted to keep the recipe vegan and gluten-free, so I modified the recipe slightly.

To make this drink, you will need a blender and a rice cooker or pot with a lid. If you need to buy any of this equipment, you might want to visit or somewhere similar and read the reviews first. That would ensure that the equipment is reliable and it will give you peace of mind before spending your money. Other people’s reviews can be extremely helpful, so make sure to pay attention to review sites. Of course, in order to visit that website, people will need a good internet connection. This will allow them to read a number of equipment reviews to make sure they’re trustworthy. Perhaps the internet service offered by infinity dish would be good. That should provide fast internet, allowing people at home to find the best equipment and recipes online to make amazing drinks. I suggest putting your “Mise en Place” and have everything set up and measured before you start preparing.

Prepped ingredients for the BRAT 19 Cocktail.
1 Cup of White Rice
1 TBSP of Oil
5 Cups of Water (divided into separate containers: 2C, 2C & 1C)
3/4 Cup of Canela (You can substitute any brown sugar or granulated white sugar)
1/4 TSP Ground Clove
1/4 TSP Ground Allspice
1/4 TSP Ground Cinnamon
1/4 TSP Nutmeg
(If you only have some of these spices, it will taste great with any combination)
1 Old Banana (optional)
Litchfield Distillery Bourbon

First, cook your rice. Put the Oil in the bottom of the rice cooker or pot. Add 1 cup of rice, and 2 cups of water. Cook it.

Cooked Rice
Next when the rice is finished, put 2 cups of cooked rice into the blender. Then add 2 cups of water to the cooked rice in the blender, and blend on high until smooth.

Add your sugar, and spices. Then add the reserved cup of water, and your old banana. Blend again until smooth.

From the blender, add the liquid into a pot and heat it up but don’t boil it. I would suggest 6 ounces for each serving (if you have extra you can freeze it).
Take some of the rice you have leftover that is not blended but cooked, and add it to your warm mixture (as much or as little as you like) stirring until incorporated. Ladle it into your mugs or bowls, and finish with 3 oz of Litchfield Distillery poured right on top. Stir and serve with a spoon, garnish with some banana or more sugar and spices.B.R.A.T. 19 Cocktail by Christine Short
That might sound a little complicated and time intensive, but it’s not really that difficult. And, believe me, it’s really, really delicious! Cheers!

Post #2: Garnet Manhattan

Garnett Manhattan by Christine Short

If you’re craving a favorite classic cocktail, but don’t have all the ingredients you need to make it, don’t fret. It’s possible to still make an amazing drink if you’re aware of some simple substitution tricks. One of my favorite drinks evolved because I needed to substitute an ingredient. It’s called the Garnet Manhattan.

I wanted to make a Manhattan and had a bottle of Litchfield Distillery Port Cask Finish Bourbon, Angostura Bitters, and even the Luxardo Cherries, but no Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth. However, I did have a bottle of Unfiltered Port Wine and since Vermouth is fortified wine with macerated herbs, I figured I would give the Port a shot.

It came out delicious! Eventually, I tweaked the recipe to include both Sweet Vermouth and Port and now serve it regularly at Zaragoza. My happy little experiment turned out to be a crowd favorite that my regulars love!

When making substitutions, aim to replace “like ingredients” with “like ingredients.” If you stick to typical recipe measurements, the overall taste and balance should be fine. As a general rule of thumb, I try to replace clear spirits with clear, or brown spirits with brown. You can swap Vodka for Tequila, Rum, or even Grappa. Bourbon, Whiskey, Cognac and Rye can all be swapped.

I’ve made a quick cheat sheet for you in case you need to make a cocktail on the fly and don’t have the time to go to the store. Have fun experimenting, the sky’s the limit! I am happy to answer any questions directly, or even provide help to an emergency cocktail SOS via email or messenger. Cheers, Christine Marie Short.

You can swap one fortified wine for another.
Sweet Vermouth for Bianco, or Dry
Port Wine
Aperitif or Digestif
Red Wine or White Wine
Sweet Madeira
Lillet Blanc

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Triple Sec
Other bitter Cherry Liquors such as Luxardo Cherry Heering
Ginger Liqueur
Yellow or Green Chartreuse

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Grand Marnier
Blanc Vermouth
Blue Curaçao
St. Germain Elderflower

Post #3: Blue Eyed Susan

This cocktail is a variation of one of my favorites that I made for a very good friend, Susan (who has blue eyes), for her signature wedding-day cocktail! My favorite drinks are usually the ones that I make specially for my regulars at Zaragoza. After her wedding, I continued to fine tune the recipe and tailored it for easy-at-home mixing, using ingredients most of us have on hand, including Litchfield Distillery’s Spiked Lemonade RTD cocktail can.

First gather your ingredients:

1 can Litchfield Distillery Spiked Lemonade
2 oz. Litchfield Distillery Vodka (or the seasonal Litchfield Distillery Blueberry Vodka)
2 oz. Red Wine
8 Frozen Blueberries
1 TBSP Fresh Sliced Ginger


Combine Blueberries and Fresh Ginger in a shaker and muddle to release the flavor. Pour in vodka and red wine, then add LitchfieldDistillery Spiked Lemonade. Shake with ice and pour into your glass. Garnish with more Blueberries and Fresh Ginger on top.

This recipe yields enough for 2 cocktails! Enjoy!

Post #4: Brighter Day Manhattan

Litchfield Distillery Straight Bourbon is my go-to bourbon at Zaragoza. The first time my boss’s mother, Diana, came to visit while I was behind the bar, she asked for her favorite drink–a Litchfield Distillery Manhattan. Just so happens that’s one I love, too. So, Diana and I immediately bonded over a martini glass filled with this delicious bourbon. Before I knew it, she wouldn’t let anyone except me make her Manhattans.

I am also a fan of the distillery’s RTD Canned Cocktail, “The Litchfielder,” which is their signature cocktail. I actually was a part of the distillery’s cocktail competition that helped create their signature drink. Alas, my recipe didn’t win the competition, but I was honored with their Distiller’s Award! The whole experience was one of the best of my career.

So, for tonight’s cocktail, I decided to combine my two favorite drinks: my Zaragoza house recipe, Litchfield “Mimi’s” Manhattan, and The Litchfielder. I call it Brighter Day Manhattan.

For me, this drink symbolizes how Litchfield Distillery has brought my personal and professional friends together in a positive way. Hope you enjoy it. Cheers! ~ Christine

To make this drink you will need:
1 can of “The Litchfielder” RTD Cocktail
3 oz. Litchfield Distillery Straight Bourbon
1 oz. Sweet Vermouth
8 dashes Angostura Bitters

2 Martini Glasses
Luxardo Maraschino Cherries

Put a cherry in the bottom of each martini glass. Combine bourbon, vermouth, bitters, The Litchfielder, and ice into a shaker. Shake and pour into martini glasses. This recipe yields 2 cocktails. Cheers from my family to yours!

Post #5: The Litchfield Tisane

I would like to thank everyone for following my Bartender Takeover. This is my last post for now and it has been an honor to be featured. I am eagerly waiting for the moment I can serve you all behind the bar again at Zaragoza.

Even though the restaurant is closed, I have been working with Zaragoza Bartender/DJ Christian Mendoza to build a new Cocktail Menu for when we reopen. I also took some time to build a creative studio space in my home. My friend suggested I should get acrylic prints, you know because huge acrylic prints make a statement! They would look really good in the background when I host a Facebook Live Mixology/Cocktail Q&A and Dance Party Happy Hour this coming Friday, April 17th (more info in comments).

Since I’ve been working so much with Christian, I decided to share one of his recipes that I think you’ll enjoy. It’s called The Litchfield Tisane and here’s how Christian describes it:

“The composition of my cocktail The Litchfield Tisane has been inspired by some of my favorite flavors. I’ve been self-quarantining and did not want to have to go to the store. So I made a drink with things I had in my kitchen. My mother is from Colombia and a naturopath. Growing up we always had different teas in our pantry, such as Chamomile, that she served with lemon and honey. Litchfield Distillery Gin is one of my favorite Gins because of its 100% CT-sourced grains and the botanicals. Being Juniper forward, and a “London Style” I knew that the soft subtle notes of chamomile and the sweet roundness of honey or agave on the palate would compliment the botanicals in the gin. At Zaragoza restaurant where I am a full time bartender, my creativity has been encouraged to come out in ways that are natural for me and my lifestyle, bringing my own flair to the beverage program.” -Christian Mendoza

2.5 oz. Litchfield Gin
oz. Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
oz .Agave or Honey
8 oz. Manzanilla (Chamomile) Tea
32 oz. Water

Bring water to a boil. Steep tea bags. Juice fresh lemon while the tea is steeping. Add tea, lemon, honey and gin into mugs. Serve and enjoy!

If you tune into our Facebook Live event next Friday (links in comments), you can watch me build a special “Mystery Cocktail” featuring the following ingredients:
Litchfield Distillery Vanilla Bourbon
Antioqueño (sin Azúcar) Aguardiente
Panela (Brown Sugar)
Canela (Cinnamon)

Thank you once again to Litchfield Distillery for allowing me to participate. And, thanks to everyone for your contributions (aka online tips) to my Venmo/Paypal. God Bless you all, stay safe, happy and healthy!
~ Christine Short


To help Christine 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 Christine’s name.