Mixology Spirit: Trevor Reed & Jamie Walker

Located in the heart of downtown Bethel, CT is J. Lawrence Downtown. What was once a historic opera house is now a lively American restaurant and cocktail bar offering food and drink so good, customers are apt to say, “Bravo! Encore!” We invited bartenders Trevor Reed and Jamie Walker to share their stories with us as they built delicious cocktails you can find on the J. Lawrence cocktail menu. You’ll want to try both of these excellent drinks–they are perfect for spring and summer sipping!

Meet J. Lawrence Bartender, Trevor Reed.

Batchers: How long have you been bartending? What attracted you to the profession originally?

Trevor: I’ve been bartending for about 8 months now. My family has owned restaurants since I was 12, so I have been around the industry for most of my life. My family owns J. Lawrence and I’ve been working here a while in various roles. When a bartending shift opened up I decided I would give it a try. I instantly fell in love with the process of crafting a great drink, setting up the bar so things are orderly, and interacting with customers.

Batchers: What has been your biggest challenge learning the craft?

Trevor: Just trying to slow down during a busy service. I used to try to get through every ticket as fast as I could. Now, I realize the key is finding balance between speed and quality. I believe people don’t mind waiting an extra minute or two for their cocktail when they know it’s going to be a great drink.

Batchers: What elements separate a great cocktail from an average cocktail?

Trevor: A great cocktail needs ingredients that work together. It’s all about how different elements of the drink blend together and achieve balance. The nice thing about working alongside an experienced and talented bartender like Jamie is that we can taste different ingredients and bounce ideas off of each other to help perfect new cocktail recipes.

Batchers: As part of the family that owns J. Lawrence, what is the dynamic like working together in such a fast paced business?

Trevor: It’s definitely interesting and like most things, there are pros and cons. I mainly work out front with my mother and sister. Sometimes, when things get a little chaotic, tensions can run high. But since we know each other so well, we don’t let the stress get to us. We realize it’s the hectic situation causing the tension, not us personally.

Batchers: How has J. Lawrence adapted to the pandemic?

Trevor: We’ve worked really hard to make people feel safe and comfortable by implementing many safety measures and cleaning protocols. We want our customers to know that we care about their health and safety and will do all we can to deliver the best dining experience possible while keeping things safe for everyone.

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

Trevor: I’d have to say the Vanilla Bourbon. It is very versatile because it works well with other ingredients that we tend to use in complex cocktails. On the other hand, it also works for the classics like an Old Fashioned, or simply bourbon on the rocks. It’s very smooth.

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

Trevor: It means being disciplined and consistent to ensure you’re working hard all the time. It’s easy to work hard during a busy shift because you have no choice. But, you also have to work hard on that Tuesday at 2pm before the doors open. You have to be willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard even though prepping and cleaning isn’t as glamorous as crafting great drinks on a busy night.

Trevor’s featured cocktail is called Vanilla Birch Old Fashioned. This is one of The Batcher’s favorite cocktails and Trevor puts his own unique spin on it by using our Vanilla Bourbon and muddling an orange and cherry. This is a straight forward cocktail and one you’ll come back to because it’s simply delicious!


Method: Add a splash of water into mixer glass, then muddle a cherry and orange slice until you have about a half ounce of liquid in the bottom. Add the bourbon and birch liqueur; stir for about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Strain over a large cube and garnish with orange twist and cherry on a skewer.

And now, meet J. Lawrence Bartender, Jamie Walker.

Batchers: How long have you been bartending? What attracted you to the profession originally?

Jamie: I have been in the hospitality business for 8 years and started bartending 6 years ago. I started in the corporate restaurant world only to discover afterward, that family-owned restaurants were a better fit for me.

Batchers: When designing your own cocktails, do you have a particular approach or philosophy?

Jamie: When designing cocktails I tend to find inspiration with classic cocktails and build off existing techniques and flavor profiles. I also have a philosophy that even though flavor and appearance in a cocktail is important, it’s the experience as a whole that defines a cocktail. Presenting something people haven’t seen before, or creating a taste or aroma that conjures up nostalgia is what creates a memorable experience. And, creating a memorable experience for our guests is the goal for everything we do at the restaurant.

Batchers: What advice would you give a home bartender, who might be new to mixing drinks, about crafting great cocktails?

Jamie: Learn the classics and play around with the classics. Mixology has been around a long time and there’s a lot to learn, and there’s plenty more to discover.

Batchers: The pandemic has inspired a lot of innovation in the industry. What recent trends or product offerings are you excited about and/or hope will stick around?

Jamie: During the pandemic many in the industry have been finding new ways to give guests a fun and safe experience. There’s been a lot of innovation, but I have to say that I really enjoy seeing outside dining becoming more of a common scene. It brings life to the town and creates an atmosphere that people passing through can see, feel and hopefully get inspired to come check out.

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

Jamie: As a Bartender for several years now, I have seen and heard a lot. What is most memorable are those busy nights of seeing bar tickets extending to the floor full of specialty cocktail orders. It is tough at the times and definitely hard work, but it comes with great satisfaction that people enjoy the drinks we have created.

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

Jamie: I really love their whole Bourbon line because there are so many flavor profiles to work with. They can be enjoyed individually by themselves, but are fun to explore in cocktail recipes.

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

Jamie: The Spirit of Hard Work to me is the continuous effort to strive forward no matter the circumstance and pursue new creative innovations to lift up the community as a whole.

Jamie’s featured cocktail is called Jam On It. He masterfully blends all ingredients to create a delicious and well-balanced drink. His house-made Rose Vanilla Vermouth along with the Strawberry Rhubarb Preserves magically complement the darker vanilla and caramel notes in our Straight Bourbon.


  • 2.0 oz Litchfield Distillery Straight Bourbon
  • .50 oz Rose Vanilla Vermouth**
  • 3 bar spoons Blake Hill Strawberry Rhubarb Preserve
  • .50 oz  Fresh Lemon Juice
  • .50 oz Simple Syrup
  • Freeze Dried Strawberries & Lemon Wheel for Garnish

** Rose vanilla vermouth: 2 cups dry vermouth, 1 cup dried rose buds, 1 vanilla bean. Combine ingredients into closed container, store in cool dark dry area for 6 days, strain and bottle.

Method: Combine ingredients into shaker with ice, shake vigorously, double strain into rocks glass. Top off with pebbled ice and garnish with strawberry and lemon wheel.

Be sure to follow J. Lawrence Downtown on their Website or on Facebook and Instagram. The restaurant is located at 186 Greenwood Avenue in Bethel, CT. To make a reservation, please call 203-616-5949.


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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