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Frisco STYLE Magazine

Who's Behind the Bar?

Dec 01, 2021 ● By Lisa Ferguson

If you visit your favorite local watering hole with any regularity, the bartender or mixologist there likely already knows whether you prefer a martini dry, shaken or stirred; if you enjoy or abhor salt on the rim of your margarita glass; and whether you take a scotch neat or on the rocks.

But how much do you know about them? Aside from their first name – maybe – we’re guessing the answer is not much.

It’s time for that to change.

Frisco STYLE recently caught up with several area bartenders (typically defined as someone who makes classic cocktails, house-specialty drinks and others) and mixologists (one who has studied the history of and creates recipes for innovative mixed drinks) at some of the most popular restaurants and bars in and around Frisco.

We queried these pros about their career paths, the wackiest ingredients they’ve used to craft drinks, what equipment they simply cannot work without and their personal cocktail preferences. Their answers, edited for clarity and length, may surprise you.


 Freddy Perez 

Mixologist

Good View Bar at Legacy Food Hall,
7800 Windrose Ave., Plano  

legacyfoodhall.com

Hometown: Carrollton 

Bartending since: 2014

When did you know you

wanted to be a mixologist?

I had bartended before, but it was at Legacy Hall that I knew I wanted to take my career to the next level. When I joined the team at Legacy Hall, I was exposed to a whole new level of mixology and that sparked my passion to take my craft further. I was excited by the wide variety of spirits, interesting ingredients, top-notch bar equipment and advanced techniques I could utilize to help hone my technique and execution. I realized I had a real passion for mixology, and I’ve fallen in love with it more and more.

What is your favorite thing about bartending? 

I love the atmosphere of bartending, especially at Legacy Hall. Being able to listen to live music and entertainment from the Box Garden while I work makes the evenings fun and energizing. I also enjoy making cocktails for guests that they’ve never tried before and helping them explore new flavor profiles. Their reactions to my creations and appreciation is a priceless experience for me.

What is the most unusual ingredient you’ve ever used in a drink? 

At first, I found it very unusual to use egg whites. Still to this day when I use it, people will look at me like I’m crazy, but the texture, frothiness and creamy flavor profile it adds to a cocktail really elevates the experience. 

Describe your ideal cocktail.

A tequila cocktail that is balanced. Not too sweet, not too tart and maybe with some pineapple, orange and lime juice with a dash of agave. I love it because it’s refreshing and crisp and reminds me of summertime on the beach.

What’s your least-favorite drink to make and why? 

Anything simple. I like the challenge of building a cocktail with multiple ingredients and experimenting with new techniques.

If you could have only one drink for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

I could probably survive off Palomas (a tequila-based cocktail) for the rest of my life. Tequila is always my go-to, and the combination of grapefruit, citrus and sparkling water is so refreshing.

What is your go-to tool behind the bar? 

I use a jigger with every cocktail I make because, just like baking, consistency and precision are key when bartending. 

If you had a superpower, what would it be? 

My superpower would be speed. The only thing better than a well-balanced cocktail is one that you don’t have to wait forever for. 

What advice do you have for at-home bartenders? 

Experiment with everything – it’s a great way to learn. Buy yourself an at-home bartending kit and look for stuff in your refrigerator to use like fruits, juices, bitters, herbs. … Bartending doesn’t have to be difficult and should always be fun.


Check out Freddy's recipe below!

Winter in Jalisco

Winter in Jalisco

Provided by Mixologist Freddy Perez, Legacy Hall, Plano Read More » 

 

 Riley Demaree 

Mixologist  

Rare Books Bar at J. Theodore,
6959 Lebanon Road, Suite 110, Frisco 

rarebooksbar.com

Hometown: Carrollton 

Bartending since: 2013

When did you know you wanted to be a mixologist? 

Sometime around 2015-2016 … I started playing around with flavors and my first cocktail I ever made with some merit was called a Rosemary Honey Slide. We sold out of them that night. After we sold out, I was like, "Well, time to come up with something new," and that’s when I realized I had a passion for creating and combining flavors. 

What is your favorite thing about bartending? 

The customers. Being able to connect with all … types of people. Whether it’s through a good drink you made, wines you’ve shared … even just tasting things and being able to evaluate something with someone. Those are my favorite times about bartending – and the ones that keep the engine going.”  

What is the most unusual ingredient you’ve ever used in a drink? 

Truffle oil and mushrooms. 

Describe your ideal cocktail. 

Cold, carbonated, in a bottle, and usually lite; or barrel-aged, room-temperature, distilled grains in a cup. … After making so many cool, creatives drinks all day, the last thing I want to do is make myself one. It’s kind of like the saying, "The mechanic’s car is always broken."

What’s your least-favorite drink to make and why? 

Any drink that takes more than six to seven steps to make. I mean, like, actual footsteps, because the more I’m having to run around for things, the less efficient and less time I have to connect with people. 

If you could have only one drink for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Scotch. More specifically, Macallan No. 6. Its exquisite nose, palate and finish are one of true harmony, history and art. 

What is your go-to tool behind the bar?

The Bogle wine key I’ve had since 2014. I don’t know how I’ve kept up with it so long, but it’s the best tool, in my opinion. 

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Mine would be the ability to be fluent in all languages. 

What advice do you have for at-home bartenders?

Read books. It’s what I do. If you can find passion in the readings, just wait ‘til you actually start doing it.

Check out Riley's recipe below!

Rosemary Honey Slide

Rosemary Honey Slide

Provided by Mixologist Riley Demaree, Rare Books Bar, Frisco Read More » 


 Jennifer Jackson 

Bartender 

Tupelo Honey,
6725 Winning Drive, Frisco 

tupelohoneycafe.com/location/frisco

Hometown: ​Frisco 

Bartending since: ​January 2020

When did you know you wanted to be a bartender? 

It wasn’t until I saw how you can build more rapport with the guest at the bar rather than at a table. As a bartender, you can enjoy and contribute to giving your guests a unique experience. Bartending is very social and every interaction is different. I also enjoy creating and garnishing different beverages in new and artistic ways.

What is your favorite thing about your work? 

My favorite thing about bartending would have to be the social interaction or constantly networking with each guest. Bartending really gives you the chance to meet people from all walks of life, and it’s interesting how much you can learn about your guests and what they can teach you.

What is the most unusual ingredient you’ve ever used in a drink?

I frequently use egg whites in cocktails. They are great for any sour-style cocktail. The egg white does not change the flavor of the drink, but ... leaves you with a perfect amout of creaminess. The flavors bind together and make a perfect frothy-yet-silky cocktail.

Describe your ideal cocktail.

My ideal cocktail would have to be something a little more tart and sour, and overall refreshing. The four flavors to look for are sweetness, acidity, bitterness and booze, and a good cocktail will have a balance of all of these components.”

What’s your least-favorite drink to make and why? 

It would probably be a mojito, only because they will leave you finding tiny pieces of mint in the next few cocktails you make following it. 

If you could have only one drink for the rest of your life, what would it be? ​​

I would choose a Gin & Aperol Sour with basil. It’s the perfect combination of sour and sweet and you could drink it all summer or winter long. 

What is your go-to tool behind the bar? 

Strainers. … I use a combination of a Hawthorne strainer and a fine-mesh strainer most frequently. These make sure that any solid ingredients (such as muddled fruit or herbs) and broken/crushed ice is removed, resulting in pouring an incredibly smooth cocktail. 

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I would choose the ability to read someone’s mind. People already expect you to be able to do this. A good example most bartenders run into would sounds something like this: "Sorry, I don’t know what the bartender down the road served you. Do you know the ingredients?" If I could avoid this conversation by reading their mind, I would do it in a heartbeat. 

What advice do you have for at-home bartenders? 

Buy smaller sized bottles when trying new spirits and liquors in an attempt to grow your at-home selection without breaking the bank or investing in something you may not enjoy. Start with a few easy, three-ingredient cocktails. These can result in a variety of drinks depending on what you like, from booze-forward, sweet, sour or a subtle cocktail.

Check out Jennifer's recipe below!

The Bees Knees

The Bee's Knees

Provided by Bartender Jennifer Jackson, Tupelo Honey, Frisco Read More » 


 Kellen dZi O’Keefe 

Bartender/Bar Manager

Didi’s Downtown,
7210 Main St., Frisco

didisdowntown.com

Hometown: Frisco

Bartending since: 2019

When did you know you wanted to be a bartender? 

I knew I wanted to bartend after waiting on tables for a year. I really enjoyed waiting, but I wanted to do something more hands on and creative.

What is your favorite thing about bartending? 

It allows me to be social and interact with customers, since I am naturally introverted and have struggled with social interaction for the majority of my life.

What is the most unusual ingredient you’ve ever used in a drink? 

Mayonnaise. It was for a shot called The Tapeworm (vodka, mayonnaise, tabasco and black pepper). Yuck.

What’s your least-favorite drink to make and why

Weirdly, mimosas. There are only two ingredients. … I am by no means a morning person, so I associate the most common breakfast drink with dread.

Describe your ideal cocktail. 

My ideal cocktail would consist of something light, with a little bit of tartness and a nice, sweet complement.

If you could have only one drink for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

It would definitely be an Amaretto Sour or New York Sour, since they are so easy to drink and just taste delicious. Outside of mixed drinks though, a good tequila is always nice.

What is your go-to tool behind the bar?

The shaker. I use it for just about every drink I make behind the bar. A good shaker can go a long way. It would make my life extremely difficult if I didn’t have one.

If you had a superpower, what would it be? 

Super speed. I feel that I can pretty much handle any load of drink tickets at any given time, within reason.

What advice do you have for at-home bartenders? 

Try to make many different cocktails at home to get an idea of what they like and dislike since every bartender can make a certain cocktail differently. I find myself not liking many other bartenders’ cocktails compared to mine since I know what I like.

Check out Kellen's recipe below!

Caramel Apple Manhattan

Caramel Apple Manhattan

Provided by Bartender Kellen dZi O’Keefe, Didi’s Downtown, Frisco Read More » 

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