Mixology Spirit: Stevie Sacco & Andrea Reyes

In this edition of Mixology Spirit we’re excited to showcase the two hard-working, female entrepreneurs behind Citrus & Rye Events. In the midst of the pandemic, Andrea Reyes and Stevie Sacco were determined to launch their own mobile craft bartending business utilizing their combined 25 years of bartending and hospitality experience. The business is off to a great start with high demand and great customer feedback. We met up with Andrea and Stevie at South Farms in Morris, CT to learn more about what makes them tick and to enjoy a couple of delicious cocktails.

First up, meet Stevie Sacco, Co-Owner.

Batchers: How long have you been working as a bartender? How did you get started in the business?

Stevie: I have been in the industry for 15 years. I got my first shot at bartending seven years ago when the Market Hospitality Group saw potential in me and provided the opportunity and mentorship to help me get to where I am today. They sparked something in me that I didn’t know even existed. The rush of bartending is incomparable to any feeling and it is addicting. I got started in hospitality through my family’s catering business when I was young and never stopped-and I don’t intend to!

Batchers: What inspired you to launch Citrus & Rye? Tell us a little bit about your vision for the business.

Stevie: Citrus and Rye was my partner Andrea’s vision. Initially, I was just going to be involved on the business end because I had a full-time position at Mercato as General Manager. When we launched Citrus and Rye, it became immediately apparent that the business had a mind of its own and deserved constant attention. So, I decided to make Citrus a full time endeavor. We wanted to start something that streamlined our combined 25 years of experience. Picasso said, “the meaning of life is to find your gift, the purpose of life is to give it away.” Andrea and I make some mean cocktails-it was time to share them!

Batchers: What was the hardest part about opening a new business during the pandemic?

Stevie: Opening a new business during the pandemic was immensely stressful, but there’s something to be said about having the most challenging chapter of your career out of the way in the first year. A number of difficult decisions were facing us when it came to how we would serve our customers and what kind of experience we would like them to have, especially because there’s so much chaos around and things are changing rapidly. We also at times seemed to be in need of taking a closer look at how we could reach out to customers and gain social media attention. And if necessary, we would have had to look into the best Instagram likes apps or elsewhere to bring in the needed attention to our business stories. When catering to customers, we knew that cash payments cannot be our only option anymore, and so we had to consider a comprehensive payment solution; we were then made aware of the fact that the cost of a payment gateway varies depending on what features we’d want it to have, and figuring out the financials and details for that proved to be quite confounding, but we got through all of it! We felt if we could make it through these obstacles, we could do anything. The most difficult part was coming to terms with the risk because if we’re honest, both of us were not sure if life would ever “return to normal.” We were also deliberating if we should opt for keyman insurance for either of us, in case we were struck with any unfortunate event, keeping in mind the situation around us. Nonetheless, we just had to take a deep breath, trust in ourselves, and hope for the best.

Batchers: We understand you went to art school. In what ways do you draw upon your artistic skills and talents as a bartender?

Stevie: Art school was just a little (but incredible) blurb of my life. I grew up in a family of amazing artists who greatly influenced me. We all found different creative outlets from painting, carpentry, furniture renovation just to mention a few. I ended up in hospitality and I see art in everything. Bartending is my artistic outlet and a glass is my empty canvas. I like to stray away from the classics by creating my own variations along with making abstract garnishes. I like to confuse people and create curiosity. I want my cocktails to be amazing but I don’t want the consumer to understand how I got there. They say true art is anything that makes you think and I apply that philosophy to my drinks on a daily basis.

Batchers: What is it about mixology that you love so much?

Stevie: Mixology has been my portal to understanding human beings. Bartenders have the privilege of meeting the most incredible people from every walk of life. The process of making a cocktail is a conversation starter in itself. I have talked to people I would never have met in any other circumstance. I am grateful to all my guests and amazing coworkers who work in the trenches with me for helping shape me into who I am. The late night conversations, the life experiences shared, and the raw emotions I get to see…it’s a really unbelievable industry. It’s an honor to be a part of it.

Batchers: What separates a great cocktail from just a good one?

Stevie: A great cocktail is when someone hands their drink to a friend to sip and then suddenly everyone around them wants to taste it. A great cocktail results in human connection, and another round.

Batchers: What is your favorite Litchfield Distillery spirit to work with?

Stevie: My favorite Litchfield Distillery spirit to work with is their Maple Bourbon. I’m a homegrown girl and I like to make drinks that are New England authentic. I think I could drink this Maple Bourbon on a beach in Hawaii and mentally feel as if I were sitting by a fire in Connecticut on an October night. New England is my home and LD’s Maple Bourbon and I are a match made in heaven.

Batchers: What does The Spirit of Hard Work mean to you?

Stevie: “Spirit” is the word that means the most to me in this tagline. We all understand there is something to be said about using your hands and feet to get things done, but spirit is what separates a successful person from average. Your spirit is what guides you, what influences the people around you. Great leaders have an intense spirit that builds and inspires strong teams that get things done. I could try all day to be successful alone, but it’s my team that actually gets me there. If you believe in yourself and those supporting you, then you can expect to find success even in unlikely places.

Stevie’s featured cocktail is called The Pumpkin King. The cocktail showcases our Maple Bourbon along with fresh pumpkin pulp, lemon juice and homemade brown sugar cinnamon simple syrup. It may seem an obvious choice for the fall season, but trust us, you’ll enjoy this one year round!


Method: Combine all ingredients in shaker with ice and shake well. Double strain to remove excess pulp and pour into a large snifter glass. Garnish with fresh pumpkin.

And now, meet Andrea Reyes, Co-Owner.

Batchers: How long have you been working as a bartender? How did you get started in the business?

Andrea: I have been working as a bartender for almost 10 years. The first experience I ever had bartending was being thrown right into it during a busy shift. I was forced to jump in and figure it out based on the very little I knowledge and experience I had after a few years of being a server. That experience instantly ignited my love of bartending!

Batchers: What did you do to perfect your craft?

Andrea: I don’t think I’m done perfecting my craft, as it is a constantly evolving vocation. I always try to bring a “wow” factor to every drink that I make. I started polishing my craft by spending an incredible amount of time experimenting with different spirits, liqueurs, etc. at the bars where I worked. Through trial and error, I figured out what tasted good together, what worked well and what didn’t work well in a cocktail. I also watched a ton of YouTube videos, subscribed to cocktail channels and read several books. I put a lot of effort into teaching myself and then worked with people who helped me reach a new level of knowledge. All of that experience helped me realize that bartending is just as much science as it is art.

Batchers: How did you meet Stevie? How did you both decide to go into business together?

Andrea: I first met Stevie six years ago at a restaurant we both worked at and instantly formed a fast friendship. Late last year, I approached her with the idea of going into business together to launch a mobile craft bartending service. The rest is history!

Batchers: What has been your biggest surprise during the first year?

Andrea: To be honest, the amount of inquiries we’ve had really took us by surprise. People are itching to get back to events, to see each other again, and to gather like we used to do.

Batchers: What advice would you give young women about starting their own business?

Andrea: Always keep going. Trust everything you know, use everything you have and always have faith in yourself. It’s easier said than done, but most of the success comes from hard work and just allowing yourself to believe you deserve to have what you want. Remember the important aspects like marketing and customer service. Have a beautiful, responsive website built by approaching agencies like thewebdesignercardiff.co.uk. Because your website is one of the main elements that can help grow the business.

Batchers: Got a good story about a hard night behind the bar?

Andrea: This makes me smile. I thrive off of adrenaline and I definitely had a lot of nights where the adrenaline got me through the shift. I remember one job where we just opened a new bar and in a blink of an eye, it was over capacity. To make matters worse, we were completely understaffed and I looked at the sea of people wondering, “How am I going to be able to do this with only one other person helping?” It was an intense night, but we stayed focused, got into a zone and made it through every order. I think I slept for about 16 hours that night.

Batchers: What is your favorite Litchfield Distillery spirit to work with?

Andrea: That’s a tough question to answer because I have a few. I have an affinity for all things blueberry. So their Blueberry Vodka is perfect for me, especially in the summer. I’m also a huge fan of the Gin. It’s got great texture and tastes great served up with a twist. However, I’d definitely say the Rye Whiskey is my favorite. It’s got great spice and pairs beautifully with cocktails; it’s a very versatile spirit!

Batchers: What does The Spirit of Hard Work mean to you?

Andrea: The Spirit of Hard Work means being your best regardless of circumstances. Pushing through, educating myself, and doing whatever it takes to get the job done.

Andrea’s featured cocktail is called Bright Idea. This is a fantastic brown-spirit cocktail you can enjoy in the summer months. It features our Rye Whiskey and is full of complex bitter, spicy and herbaceous notes balanced perfectly by the acidity of the lemon juice and sweetness of the vanilla & strawberry syrup.


Method: Combine ingredients into shaker with ice and shake (with a smile), double strain into coupe glass. Garnish with lemon wheel.

Be sure to follow Citrus & Rye on their Website or on Facebook and Instagram. To contact them about booking for an event please call 860-834-9173 or email citrusandrye@gmail.com.


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 info@litchfielddistillery.com.

2021 Litchfield Distillery. Photography & Editing Credits: Tony Vengrove

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