Cocktails on a Budget: How to Save Money in your Home Bar


Today, we’re revisiting our favorite 10 podcasts of the last 100 episodes– with special guest, our very own Julia Tunstall. Split up between technique and career-focused episodes, these are podcasts you definitely want to go back and listen to if you missed them the first time!

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10 best episodes in no particular order

How we came up with the list –

Here are the episodes


Ben Potts smoked cocktails – 182

  • Takeaways: Smoked Cocktails are very eye catching
  • Cocktail families that lend themselves to being smoked – if it has been barrel aged (char) it lends itself well
  • Stick with Stirred cocktails
  • Equipment list – Smoking gun Polyscience
  • Surface area of the container makes a difference
  • Different types of smoke to create – Spices, Dried Fruits
  • Techniques to utilize smoke in the cocktail – mixers, syrups, vessel, etc
  • Cold glassware is better for sticking smoke flavor
  • Fun technique Smoked meat fat washing

Lucas Huff Cocktail Pairing – 161


  • Using Wine as a reference for cocktail and food pairing
  • Favorite aspiring French 75 with oysters add a touch of absinthe
  • Food knowledge is critical for creating pairings
  • Collaboration with chefs is critical
  • How to target flavor timing – using heat to focus on when the flavor evolves
  • Spirit heavy cocktails are really hard to pair with food – High alcohol blows out your pallete

Chris Krause and Nicole Barker – beer cocktails 173 and 174 respectively


  • Techniques that work for beer cocktails – Replace water instead of water Make the beer into a syrup first and then add flavor
  • Beers to use in cocktails – sour beers, porters, lagers, etc
  • Don’t use ice – dilution will kill the cocktail
  • Beer cocktails are for young people
  • Taste the beer go flat to see how it will work in cocktails

Chris Krause

  • Using Growlers from local breweries – This preserves the flavor of the original beer
  • Use Beer Concentrate and beer syrups
  • Making beer foam
  • Reduce the sugar to add more flavor in a cocktail, 2:1, 3:1

Red Cocktails with Amy Mirate MTP 172


  • How to incorporate colors into a cocktail :
    Dried Pigments
  • Purees and frozen fruit
  • Reinforce the color with spices that evoke the feeling of the color
  • Using freeze dried fruit for a diy approach
  • Natures Flavor and Fresh as are great flavor and color
  • Using a double boiler to make a consomme – 2 lbs of fruit (frozen) and 8 oz of sugar – preserves the aromatics vs boiling
  • Working with berries, add a touch of elderberries to punch up the fragrance

Julia Momose N/a – 137


  • Adding a purposeful N/A can add to the overall guest experience
  • Moving away from cocktail families and focus on flavor descriptors and the flavor experience
  • Dilution is your enemy, using the water in the best way possible, flavored ice
  • Instead of base spirits, descriptors start using “bases” building flavors through techniques like cooking with different temperatures for ideal extraction.
  • Peppercorns can be a big asset when creating spirit free drinks
  • Tea is a great vehicle for spirit free creation – Different steeping amounts have different expressions

Non alcoholic Amaro with Jason La Valla 176


  • Created a flavor library to create his first amaro then blended them. This helped him to identify specific flavors in cocktails
  • Use fresh herbs and orange peels  – Biggest tip
  • He covers flavor extraction using alcohol vs non alcoholic extractions – he went with a flavor house.
  • Use Non alcoholic mixer as a way to boost overall flavor in a cocktail – highballs tend to water down the base spirit, but a spirit free mixer can help to amplify it and add complexity

Just a fun interview


Chris Elford – 175


  • Context – Right at the beginning of the pandemic and gives some great information and mental approaches on how to execute a to go cocktail menu
  • To go menu is an extension of the experience that you want to create in your bar/restaurant.
  • Sold the kits with and without booze They include the story, inspiration and also a list of other spirits that will work in their mixers
  • Incorporate social media to help build your platform
  • Individual cocktail to go servings was a lot of work vs income
  • Interesting conversation that really showcases how hard the early part of the pandemic impacted our industry
  • If you offer too many options, they might not make a choice

Beach Bum Berry 178


  • Amazing story teller
  • Canadian whiskey and Carribean rums were the safest to drink during prohibition
  • Rum fell out of favor right after prohibition and the price fell dramatically and tiki was a perfect vehicle to create a fun, profitable environment
  • Tiki cocktails was the first craft cocktail after prohibition
  • They used fresh ingredients used complexity by focusing on adding complexity in every step of a cocktail family, using different rums, different type of infused syrups, etc
  • Talks about the journey of finding the recipes from Don the beachcombers.
  • Bartenders were being poached as fast as they could and opening restaurants all over the world – this was a good enough reason to make all his recipes and ingredients a secret.
  • World war 2 was the second wave of tiki popularity. Tiki offered a mini vacation
  • 1950’s had the cold war and all the red scare of the time and tiki was a perfect escape
  • Tiki restaurants were considered fine dining during their era. 1 million dollar build outs in the 60’s
  • 70’s was a victim of the counterculture, Vietnam  and moving away from what your parents liked. Drugs became more of a focus
  • 80’s was the death of tiki -prepackaged
  • One of my best stories around bartenders and how it impacted culture. The suffering bastard and how a bartender changed the direction World War 2 – Battle of El Alamein

Jennifer Colliau 120


  • Growing a business while working as a bartender – the birth of Small Hands food
  • Focus on not making the best syrup, but focus on making the best end cocktail
  • Deep dive into specific techniques with making syrups – making orgeat and pineapple syrups
  • Labor cost vs buying quality made products
  • We dive into some of the struggles of the environment of running a bar as a manager
  • Tips on being a bartender entrepreneur

David Sangwell 124


  • Relationships are key both with vendors but also with the staff in each venue.
  • Bar manager to beverage director – being organized – follow up with action items via email at any meeting
  • Multi site operator Challenges – Training a staff that have different time constraints he used videos to train a staff and used Survey monkey to reinforce training
  • Got a slack network of bartenders of other bars to pick up shift
  • Communication is the biggest thing
  • Remember names of each bartenders in each location
  • Standardize equipment and inventory
  • Motivation – Read each situation, see where each bar is at first and the personalities. Lead by example. Hearing the ideas of the staff
  • New bartender to Multi site operator – get more experience however you can. Understand the mechanics of business, show initiative.
  • Look for education, it is out there.
  • Build relationships with vendors !!!!
  • Bar manager to general manager – spreadsheets should be understood. Seeing the business from the guest perspective.
  • Build processes if you continue to run into the same issues
  • GM into multi site – Technology is your friend Dropbox,
  • Know who is responsible for what – accountability, Communication. Being a confident presenter
  • Surprises – you have to manage your time efficiently and what is going to move the needle the most.

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Melanie Tornroth

Melanie Tornroth

A former English teacher, Melanie optimistically embraces the struggle that is work-from-home parenthood as the in-house writer for A Bar Above. When not responding to “Mom” and writing articles for ABA, she also runs Goodnickels Photography, loves to cuddle her cats, and is perfecting the art of keeping her pandemic “fermentation babies” alive.

About Melanie Tornroth

A former English teacher, Melanie optimistically embraces the struggle that is work-from-home parenthood as the in-house writer for A Bar Above. When not responding to “Mom” and writing articles for ABA, she also runs Goodnickels Photography, loves to cuddle her cats, and is perfecting the art of keeping her pandemic “fermentation babies” alive.

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