David McEntire is a bartender at Bar 19 at the Four Seasons at Las Colinas and recently created a new locally focused drink, the Farmer's Tan, made entirely with ingredients sourced within 100 miles of the bar. Recently, we got to chat with McEntire about local booze, how a drink can be "more of an experience than just a cocktail" and flavored spirits that just won't quit.
What was the inspiration for the Farmer's Tan? We were given the task to create a drink using only ingredients from within 100 miles from the bar. It took some research finding the base liquor, but once we found the Stingray Spiced Rum from Carrollton we just got the team together and had some fun with it. It's made with jalapeños, cilantro and basil from the chef's garden, infused with lime juice and a house-made simple syrup and mixed with Stingray.
Are customers ordering more herbal drinks like this? Yes, when guests look at the cocktail menu they're usually looking for something fun and different. And when they see cilantro and jalapeño-infused simple syrup they become curious and give it a shot. It becomes more of an experience than just a cocktail.
How is working at a hotel bar different than working at a local dive? I get to meet new people everyday. We have our regulars, but they come five times a year instead of every week. There's also a following of local club members, but when the hotel is busy, you've got to love a 300-person group coming to the bar after dinner.
Do you like being asked, "Just make me whatever you like?" Definitely, but only after I've had the opportunity to talk to them and find out what their general interests are.
Are there any new trends in the cocktail world? Micro-distilleries are popping up everywhere, which gives different bars the capability to offer a uniquely local experience. Also, just like with food, the farm-to-table is very popular. Finding the different herbs and spices and how they complement each other opens the door to all kinds of cocktail combinations.
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Is there something you'd like to see more of? I always enjoy when someone orders an aperitif or digestif. When they notice that section on our menu and order a Fernet or Carpano, you know it's the beginning of a fun conversation.
Are there any Texas spirits or beers you're excited about right now? At the moment I am most excited about Garrison Brother's Bourbon. We'll start carrying that in a few weeks.
Are we almost done with flavored vodkas? I would like to think they've hit their peak, but I don't see them going away anytime soon. Now the trend seems to going towards flavoring other kinds of spirits.
Worst pickup line you've ever heard? My favorite one was when a guest told a girl at the bar, "I want to be on you," a reference from the movie Anchorman. The great part was that the girl had never seen the movie and was not amused.