A Note from Long Road: Recently, we launched a Guest Blog series, “Behind the Bar with Long Road”, to take you on a journey behind the bar with our talented team and to give you a glimpse into the creative process behind innovative and enticing cocktails that feature our spirits. Be sure to check out our earlier posts by Jenney Grant, Joey Robles-Zepeda and Carley from Cocktails with Carley. This week’s post comes to us from Long Road Bartender Connor Everhart. You can find him behind the stick several nights a week at the distillery on Leonard Street.
Gotta Light?: A Split-Base Pleaser from Connor
by Connor Everhart, Bartender, Long Road Distillers
I remember sitting next to my new coworkers with my cocktail notebook in hand, eager and excited to share my drink ideas. This was not just my first cocktail meeting while working at Long Road, but my first cocktail meeting ever! At thirty years of age, I moved to Grand Rapids only four months prior, and I had never been a bartender before in my life, only an at-home bartender and cocktail enthusiast. I left a five-year Personal Training career behind in order to pursue my passion for cocktails and hospitality. With no experience in the food and drink industry, Long Road decided to take a chance on me and see what I was capable of.
“So, I was thinking of combining our Apple Brandy, which I really love, and our Nocino together in a cocktail because I think it would be a perfect blend of flavors for the fall menu,” I said nervously to the seven other bartenders, all of whom possessed years of experience behind the bar and have no idea who I am.
“Oh yeah, I was thinking of possibly doing something like that too! That’s a great idea!” said one of my colleagues.
My nerves vanished as I was immediately encouraged and praised for my one (and only) idea I had prepared for the meeting. At that moment, I knew I needed to prove my idea was worth executing, so it was time to go to work!
After several attempts at trying different ratios, spirits, syrups, glassware, and listening to advice from coworkers, I created my very first cocktail that would be featured on the Long Road Fall menu of 2022!
I named the cocktail “Gotta Light?”, a reference to the notorious episode of the same name from my favorite TV show “Twin Peaks” (if you have seen the show, you know the episode).
The cocktail features a split base of Bourbon and Apple Brandy as the star of the show with Nocino and Cinnamon Brown Sugar simple syrup to round out the booziness. It’s then topped with a dehydrated apple slice and a cinnamon stick. Before the drink is given to a guest, the glass is smoked with apple wood chips and then covered to bring more complexity and depth to the flavors. Not only was it my first cocktail to ever be featured on a menu, it was one of the best-selling cocktails of the season! While still new to the world of cocktails and spirits, I’m filled with excitement to learn more and improve my skills as a bartender.
Gotta Light? Recipe
- 1.5oz Apple Brandy
- .5oz Bourbon
- .5oz Nocino
- .5oz Cinnamon Brown Sugar Simple Syrup
Add all ingredients into a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir and single strain into a smoked (preferably apple wood chips) snifter glass topped with a dehydrated apple slice and cinnamon stick.