Quarantine Kitchen

Lemon-Garlic Clam Pasta

Enjoy this lemony pasta with a glass of chardonnay or a sparkling water and lemon!

(1) 10 oz. can of baby clams (I used Bumble Bee Whole Shucked Clams)

2 tsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 lemon, zested

1 small shallot, minced

1/2 Cup White Wine

6 oz whole wheat linguine*

1 oz. parmesan cheese, shredded

Salt, Pepper & Red Pepper Flake, to taste

Parsley, chopped

*This is an approximate estimate of how much pasta I used. I didn’t measure the pasta. No one measures pasta but sociopaths.

  1. Set a medium sized pot of water to boil seasoned generously with salt. Add pasta and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes depending on stove power.
  2. Mince garlic and shallot finely. Set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tsp olive oil slowly over medium heat. When hot, add garlic and shallot and cook until aromatic, about 1 minute.
  4. Open can of clams and drain off about 1/3 of the cans liquid, reserving the rest.
  5. Add clams with leftover juices and white wine to the pan with garlic and shallot and simmer on medium-low. Cover and simmer until juices have reduced, about 5 minutes.
  6. Ladle about 1/4 cup of pasta water into the clam mixture. Simmer for 1-2 more minutes, stirring well.
  7. Add pasta to the pan along with salt, pepper, and red pepper flake. Zest the skin of (1) lemon into pasta. Half the lemon and squeeze 1 half worth of juice into pasta as well. (If you would like a stronger lemon flavor, feel free to juice entire lemon into the pan)
  8. Toss pasta with parmesan and parsley. Serve warm. Enjoy with a board of burrata cheese drizzled in honey and a light green salad.
Cocktail Recipes

Kombucha Colada

4 oz Coconut Lime Kombucha 

.75 oz Coconut Cream 

1 oz Lime

.5 oz Pineapple 

.25 oz Passionfruit Syrup

Lime Peel

Allspice Dusting 

1. Add 3 oz kombucha, coconut, lime, pineapple, and passionfruit to a shaker tin without ice. 

2. Dry shake for about 20 seconds. (The kombucha can cause added pressure in the shaker, so be careful when shaking.)

3. Add ice to the shaker. Shake for 30 seconds until well chilled. 

4. Double strain into a rocks glass with ice. Top with 1 oz kombucha. Dust the top of the drink with ground allspice and express one lime peel over the top of the cocktail and enjoy!


An Open Letter to the Community From a Bartender

The holiday season is usually my favorite time to work behind a bar. Bathed in the red and green glow of christmas lights strung across the back bar shelves, the busy air of December drinking feels more sincere than other months. It’s a time when my favorite out-of-town regulars come home to see their family and always stop by for a gin martini and a hello. It’s when rich winter dishes fly from the restaurant kitchen, filling the bar with the scent of garlic, rosemary, and gravy as bottles of cabernet and primitivo are opened to fight back against the cold. It’s when a low-lit bar feels a little more like magic than reality. 

This year is different. Restaurant workers like me aren’t just missing our favorite traditions this year. We’re missing income that is crucial to surviving through the holiday season and the cold months beyond, and it doesn’t seem like there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Without holiday parties, crowded bars, or valuable amounts of incoming patrons traveling for the holidays, it’s difficult to imagine how smaller, independent restaurants are going to make it past January.

“It’s killing our business. We are doing $800 a night instead of $5,000,” says Rebecca Severs, co-owner of Bari Ristorante in midtown, about the difference in earnings. She says November to February are her restaurant’s busiest months—a time you can usually count on to carry the business through the winter even if the previous months were less profitable than usual. As we enter December with PPP loans drying up, case numbers climbing, and a possible stimulus package that does little to nothing for restaurants, your favorite restaurants are facing challenges that could be insurmountable without aid. “We need help from the City right now,” Severs says. “We need money in order to survive until Spring or Summer of 2021. A lot of places will close.” 

Her sentiments are echoed by Brian “Skinny” McCabe, owner of beloved Memphis bar and venue, the Hi Tone. “I’ve lost over $300,000 of revenue so far,” he says. The Hi Tone was one of the last bars in Memphis to reopen its doors after initially being closed, and McCabe has diligently worked to be sure his venue follows all restrictions and safety directives set forth by the health department to keep his staff and customers safe. However, being forced to close his doors for several months, and complying with the new restrictions from the Shelby County Health Department, has come at a high price. McCabe says his business revenue is down 76% from 2019, and he has taken to driving part-time for Uber Eats to provide for his family and keep his business afloat. 

I’ve noticed that the stress of working face-to-face with the public through a pandemic rarely comes up in debates about restaurants. Being a bartender long before Covid-19, I’ve had my fair share of frustrating nights and downright dangerous interactions with guests. One of the more tame names I’ve been called behind the bar was stupid bitch. I’ve had a man “joke” about punching me in the face when he saw his tab. I’ve been snuck out of the back door of the restaurant by coworkers when a guest couldn’t take no for an answer when giving me his phone number.

So often when we discuss hospitality, we bring up what it is to be a customer—what we expect from a staff or employee in regards to their tone of voice, to what they look like, and the way they handle our (inappropriate) behavior. Very rarely do we discuss that for too long the humanity of restaurant employees has been forgotten or disregarded because of their profession. 

Restaurants have an obligation to their patrons to provide a service as safely as possible. We always have before the pandemic, and we always will after it. But I wonder when the obligation of a guest to treat a restaurant worker with dignity and respect ended? When did people who were taking shots with their friends at dive bars and going on dates at taprooms in February suddenly forget that their bartenders and servers are human beings with feelings, fears, and rent payments in December? When did the social contract of respect between patron and establishment dissolve so that only the restaurant has to hold up its end of the deal? 

One study from One Fair Wage reports that there has been a serious rise in abuse directed towards front-of-house employees as tensions surrounding mask mandates have become more strained. According to the report, 78% of workers have experienced or witnessed hostile behavior exhibited from a guest in response to staff attempting to enforce safety regulations, and 41% have seen a noticable increase in sexual harassment from guests towards employees.  Over 80% of tipped employees have seen a dramatic drop in tips earned through the pandemic, with “nearly two thirds (66%) reporting that their tips have declined by at least 50%.” 

These reports aren’t just numbers, they are tangible events that have had disastrous effects on the quality of life of your neighbors. The emotional and psychological toll it takes on service industry workers to even go into work is incredibly high. Guests are pushing the boundary for what they can and can’t say and do to staff, such as when I had a guest tell me to my face that my high-risk partner’s life wasn’t worth the “effort” to wear a mask. Acre bartender Paul Gilliam estimates that his restaurant earnings account for over half of his family’s income and that without aid, he isn’t sure how much of the restaurant industry will be left to come back to after a vaccine is widely available. McCabe has set up a Relief Fund for his employees asking for donations to help pay for staff’s rent, groceries, and basic necessities because the money just isn’t there otherwise. 

I understand the points concerning the need to stay at home and the argument for shutting down restaurants completely. I have lost people to the disease myself, and I do not believe that the loss of human life due to Covid-19 can be compared to the loss of revenue. However, as a person who has served the people of Memphis behind the bar for almost ten years, I do not think the conversation regarding restaurants takes into account enough empathy surrounding the position we are in as an industry made up of real people. An estimated 100,000 restaurants have already closed permanently, and more will be on the way without the support of our community. The loss of local restaurants would mean the loss of almost 11 million jobs—that’s 11 million families without rent money, food, or heat in winter. That’s myself and a vast majority of my loved ones facing homelessness and crippling financial debt that could change the course of the rest of our lives. While I appreciate the thought behind the idea that restaurants should close, it cannot—and will not— work if the fight for federal aid to save restaurant employees is not equally as vigorous and aggressive. 

In turn, restaurants should have to follow procedures that will keep their communities and staff as safe as possible. There should be restrictions to help guide us on public health policy. The bars and restaurants who choose to disregard regulations or say that restrictions are unnecessary are misguided, and drawing a line in the sand about procedure doesn’t help anyone in the long term when nothing can truly fix our situation except for real government aid. 

As a person who has been behind the bar for countless birthdays and weddings and graduations of guests, I will tell you that I feel forgotten by a large part of my community. As a person who has locked the front door and stayed hours past when I should have gone home because a guest needed a safe space to cry about a divorce or a death or a loss, I feel thrown away by my city and federal government. As a person who has dedicated my career to honing a set of skills centered around serving the community when they want it, I feel betrayed by the statement that I am selfish because I do not have the skills to pick up and leave my career to enter into a new job market. As Paul Gilliam says, “I don’t have the privilege of being able to stay home and still provide food and shelter for my family. I’m terrified of how this is going to end.”

If you care about your local restaurants, order take-out and tip well, but do it while you call your local lawmakers and command that they take care of us. Demand a mask mandate on a state and federal level so that we do not continue to be abused, berated, and humiliated as we are compelled to enforce what is right at the cost of our income. Wear your mask. Hold your loved ones accountable for the way they conduct themselves in public and how they treat workers. 

Your favorite restaurants will close without aid, and they will close sooner that you are expecting. Think of all the times a server or bartender has gone to bat for you at a dinner, on a date, or after closing time. It’s your turn to do the same for us. 

cocktail hacks

Holiday Private Parties

After this hell of a year, a holiday spent alone is probably the last thing any of us want. This holiday season is probably going to look different for you than usual—I know it definitely will for me and my family. Putting together a virtual holiday might sound intimidating, but the good news is that you don’t have to worry about doing it alone! Best Shot Co. is here to help make this holiday as stress-free and fun as possible so you can come together with loved ones to make new memories, not agonize over what you’re missing.

This holiday season, I’m offering pre-packaged private events at a discounted flat rate with nine different cocktail options to choose from. With early and late time slots, getting together with your friends is as easy as clicking a button no matter the time zone.

You deserve a break. Why not take one with your best friends, family, and a daiquiri? Look below for dates/time slots and pricing!

Cocktail Recipes

Blackest Manhattan

2 oz Rye Whiskey

1 oz Jägermeister

3 dash Angostura

2 dash Cherry Bitters

Cocktail Cherry
1. Combine all ingredients (except cherry) into a mixing glass with ice.

2. Stir until chilled, about 30 seconds.

3. Strain into a coupe glass. Add a cherry and enjoy!

Cocktail Recipes

Amaretto Sour: Two Ways

The Amaretto Sour is a cocktail near and dear to my heart—it was the first cocktail that truly sparked my love for making craft drinks. These two amaretto sours work to turn this “Little Bitter” liqueur from a college party shot into something magical for after dinner or enjoying something low ABV.

Classic Amaretto Sour

2 oz Amaretto, such as Di Amore or Gozio Amaretto

1 oz lemon

1/4 oz Simple Syrup

  1. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker tin with ice.
  2. Shake well, about 30 seconds.
  3. Double strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a lemon peel. Enjoy!

*For a more sour version of this cocktail, simply omit the simple syrup.

Amaretto Fizz

1 oz Amaretto

3/4 oz Rye or Cognac

1 oz Amontillado Sherry

1 oz Lemon

1/2 oz Simple Syrup

Egg White (or 3/4 oz of aquafaba)

  1. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker tin without ice.
  2. Dry shake (without ice) for about 30 seconds.
  3. Add ice to the tin. Shake another 45-60 seconds.
  4. Double strain over ice and garish with an orange peel–enjoy!
Cocktail Recipes

Penicillin No. 2

This isn’t so much a riff on a penicillin cocktail as it is an attempted refining of it. The addition of hot chilis into the honey ginger syrup increases the heat of the ginger while a dash of angostura and salt sharpens the warmth of the scotches.

2 oz Blended Scotch

1 oz Lemon

1 oz Ginger Chili Honey

2 dash Angostura

3 drops Salt Solution (4:1)

1/4 oz Islay Single Malt

  1. Combine all ingredients except single malt intonations shaker tin with ice.
  2. Shake well, about 30 seconds.
  3. Double strain into a highball glass over one large ice cube.
  4. Gently float single malt on top. (I also find that spraying it via an atomizer is my preferred method for adding this ingredient.)
  5. Garnish with a lemon peel or cherry.

Ginger Chili Honey

1 cup Honey

1/2 cup Water

1 small hot pepper, sliced in half 

6” piece of fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

  1. Combine honey and water in a pot over medium heat. Allow to come to a light boil. 
  2. Add ginger and pepper and boil for 1 minute. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  3. Remove from heat and discard pepper but keep ginger in the mixture. Refrigerate overnight. 
  4. Strain out ginger solids and bottle syrup in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
Cocktail Recipes

Blood in the Water

1 oz reposado tequila

1 oz amaro montenegro

¾ oz lemon

¼ oz rich simple syrup

2 drops salt solution (4 water : 1 salt) 

3 dash angostura

2 lemon peels

  1. Combine tequila, amaro, lemon, simple syrup, salt, and 1 lemon peel into cocktail shaker tin.
  2. Shake well until shaker tin freezes in your hand, about 40-60 seconds.
  3. Strain over ice.
  4. Using a dropper or barspoon, carefully drop angostura on top of the cocktail.
  5. Hold lemon peel 4 inches above drink. Pinch, skin-side down, with pointer finger and thumb, expressing lemon oil over the cocktail.
  6. Rub skin side of peel over the lip of the glass. Drop into cocktail and enjoy!
Cocktail Recipes

Funeral on 77th Street

This absinthe and elderflower French 75 riff is perfect for when you want something a little sweet, a little sour, and a little more adventurous than your average cocktail. A perfect introduction to absinthe for newbies, this cocktail is best served with ice cold sparkling wine and a fresh rosemary garnish.

1 3/4 oz Gin

1 1/4 oz Lemon

3/4 oz Honey Syrup (4:1 honey to water)

1/4 oz St. Germain Elderflower

1/4 oz Absinthe

Lemon peel

Cold Prosecco or Cava

  1. Combine gin, lemon, honey, St. germain, and absinthe into a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well until frothy, about 30-45 seconds.
  3. Double strain into a large coupe glass. Top with desired amount of Prosecco or cava.
  4. Express a lemon peel over the surface of the cocktail and garnish with a sprig of fresh rosemary.

NOTE: For a Slightly sweeter drink, increase measurement of St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur from 1/4 oz to 1/2 oz.

Cocktail Recipes

Sherry Sidecar

A sidecar is one of my favorite cocktails because it’s everything I love about cocktails: rich, velvety, and full of flavor. This sherry sidecar captures everything I normally love about a standard sidecar while significantly lowering the ABV. Enjoy this version on nights when it gets too hot to have a lot of booze or when you’re close to being out of brandy but still have a hankering for something delicious.

1 1/4 oz Amontillado Sherry

3/4 oz Brandy

1/2 oz Dry Curaçao

1/2 oz Lemon

Bar Spoon Rich Sugar Syrup (2:1)

Lemon Peel

  1. Combine all ingredients, including lemon peel, into a shaker tin with ice.
  2. Regal shake for about 40 seconds or until shaker tin freezes in your hands.
  3. Double strain into a coupe glass, and enjoy!

You Should Be Drinking Jägermeister.

My meeting with Jägermeister brand rep Michael Titter went about how any meeting of cocktail minds goes in 2020: a mid-morning Zoom call that began with a discussion about bartending in a pandemic, the lack of federal aid for restaurants, and how working in any avenue of hospitality right now is, frankly, fucking difficult.

“It’s hard for anyone to focus right now, obviously for good reason, ” Titter says of bar accounts scrambling to pay their bills and the liquor distributors who are attempting to keep their products on those bar shelves. “At Jägermeister, our focus has really shifted from asking restaurants ‘what can we sell you?’ to ‘what do you need from us, and how can we help?” From European accounts having fees waived upon reopen to hundreds of thousands of dollars donated to organizations providing relief to furloughed bartenders, Jägermeister has been putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to helping restaurant workers around the world.

This conversation around Jägermeister’s Covid-19 relief efforts brought us the root of what our meeting, and Thursday’s live class, was about.

“I just want people to understand that Jägermeister is not the monster that people think it is,” Titter explains when I asked him what his biggest challenge was when reintroducing drinkers to the infamous German bitter liqueur. “Anything will make you sick if you take six shots of it in an hour. Jägermeister isn’t special in that way,” he laughs. “This is a third generation company that is putting out a high quality product. The family is deeply involved in the whole process, and it’s very important to us as a company that we not only make the best version of Jäger possible, but that we are also taking care of the people who actually work and make their living in this industry.”

This is all great, but I’m sure you’re still wondering why should I drink Jägermeister? Because it’s delicious, that’s why.

Comprised of 56 botanicals, with warm spices and a heavy licorice nose, Jägermeister is more suited to be the bitter liqueur of your dreams, not the bottle lurking in the corner of your nightmares. Rich caramel notes dominate the first sip, and they’re followed by a dry bitterness that tastes suspiciously of gentian—arguably my favorite ingredient in other, very popular, bitter spirits. Jäger leans a little sweeter, but I don’t think that’s a mark against them. Its caramel notes reminds me of the warm sweetness I love in sweeter versos fo Italian Amari like Nardini. (And nobody I know has the guts to talk shit about Nardini.) It makes beautiful cocktails. (Like the ones we made in class, a Jäger Negroni The Buxom Bounty Hunter and a strawberry and Jägermeister sour The Red Death Wet Dream.)This spirit is complex, bittersweet, and herbaceous: all the hallmarks of a bottle bartenders should be clamoring to put on cocktail lists. So what gives?

Michael argues it could be a cultural problem. “In the US, it’s all about taking shots and getting fucked. We over-do things here. I mean, look at the shots with the worst reputations for partying hard: Fireball, Rumple Minze. One dimensional and mass produced without much thought to layers of flavor.” Jägermeister never expected to be on the list of shots people take just to get drunk and forget that they have finals the next day. “That was never the intention behind the spirit,” he says. “It’s not how the rest of the world enjoys Jägermeister.”

What I took away from my conversation with Michael was that the problem with Jäger is about image, not taste. Even the most loyal attendees of my cocktail class were skeptical about Jägermeister cocktails. Some people even chose not to participate at all, citing past experiences of hanging over a toilet all night and waking up with a blank memory. However, there were also a surprising number of people in class who had never had Jägermeister before yesterday, and their responses supported the idea that Jäger’s bad reputation isn’t deserved.

“I’m surprised at how much flavor is packed in here,” said one class attendee after tasting Jägermeister for the first time. “I was really expecting it to taste more like the stories I’ve been told, like pure grain alcohol. But this is very complex.”

“I would definitely drink this regularly,” said another participant, someone who had the stereotypical college experience but was willing to give Jägermeister another chance. “It doesn’t taste anything like I remember. It really reminds me of some of the Amari we’ve tasted in other classes, which I really like. This is good!”

The response was unanimous: Jägermeister is not only tolerable to a 2020 drinker, but something they would seek out again and again. Perhaps Jägermeister was ahead of it’s time when it first came to the US in the 1980s. Perhaps the inclusion of bitters and fernets on menus over the last few years have better prepared consumers for its licorice-forward flavor profile. Perhaps people have just gotten a little older and gotten over their college days. Whatever the reason, Jägermeister is slowly making its way into cocktails and home bars, not in the freezer or the pantry, but on on the front shelf, where it has always deserved to sit.

Cocktail Recipes

Blueberry (Mock) Mojito

Mint. Sugar. Seltzer. Fruit.

It’s hard to get more refreshing than a fruity mojito. Modeled after one of the most popular cocktails for summer drinking, this non-alcoholic mojito uses rich Demerara sugar to mimic the flavor of rum with a tangy blueberry-lemon puree to create a mojito even more refreshing than the original.

2 oz black tea, brewed per instructions

3/4 oz lime

1/2 oz blueberry-lemon puree

1/2 oz rich Demerara sugar syrup (2:1)



  1. Gently smack mint and roll between the palms of your hands to release mint oils. Do not muddle! muddling often mangles the mint beyond repair, bringing the bitter and swampy qualities of the herb out instead of the aromatics. Add to the bottom of a Collins glass.
  2. Pour sugar syrup over mint. Gently use a muddler to lightly press herb oil into the sugar. Again, do not muddle and tear the leaves.
  3. Add tea, blueberry-lemon puree, and lime to a cocktail shaker tin with ice. Shake well.
  4. Pack Collins glass with crushed ice on top of mint and sugar. Pour cocktail over ice. using a bar spoon, swizzle to combine.
  5. Top with a generous pour of seltzer and another sprig of mint and enjoy!

Blueberry-Lemon Puree

1 cup blueberries

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 lemon, zested

  1. Combine all ingredients into a blender. Process until completely liquified.
  2. Press through fine sieve to remove and berry solids. Discard.
  3. Store puree chilled for up to 10 days.
Cocktail Recipes

Using Tea as a Base Spirit

When creating non-alcoholic cocktails, a “base spirit” is still an important component to the construction of the drink. Just as a Manhattan is usually defined with the use of whiskey, zero proof cocktails also have an ingredient that acts as the backbone to the drink. Juices, fruit purees, shrubs, and sparkling waters are all products I reach for when creating my spirit free lists, but none are quite as popular as tea.

Tea is ideal as the base for cocktails because it tends to share similar properties to alcohol in terms of body and mouthfeel—astringency, bitterness, umami, botanics, and sugars are all present in some form in teas. Because of this, I have an easier time manipulating tea to replicate spirits. For example, by adjusting the brewing time of an astringent black tea, I can create a long, slow dehydration in the back of the throat similar to the feeling you get after drinking a high proofed whiskey.

Hibiscus and black teas are two of my favorite varieties to use in zero proof cocktails, but just as there are thousands of tequilas and gins out there, so are there thousands of teas!

Just Can’t Say No to You

This cocktail is based in hibiscus tea but features some beautiful savory notes with the addition of celery and strawberry with bitter tonic water.

1 celery stalk, muddled

4-5 strawberries

1 1/2 oz hibiscus tea

3/4 oz rich simple syrup (2:1)

1/2 oz lemon

3 dash celery bitters (optional)

Tonic Water

  1. In a cocktail shaker tin, muddle together celery, strawberries, and syrup.
  2. Add tea, bitters, and lemon juice with ice. Shake well, about 40 seconds.
  3. Strain over ice into a rocks glass. Top with a splash of tonic water and swizzle together with a bar spoon. Garnish with a lemon twist and celery stalk.

Broken Heart’s Gentleman’s Club

Aloe vera is a plant with some pretty damn impressive health benefits. It also has an acidic flavor that balances the strawberry without adding too much lemon juice.

1 1/2 oz Hibiscus Tea

1 1/4 oz Strawberry Puree (1:1 strawberries to sugar, blended)

3/4 oz Aloe Vera Juice

3/4 oz Lemon

1/2 oz Vanilla tea Syrup

3/4 oz Egg White

  1. Combine all ingredients into a shaker tin with ice. Shake well until egg white foams, about 60 seconds.
  2. Strain cocktail out of tin and discard ice. Return to shaker and dry shake without ice for 2-30 seconds.
  3. Strain into a large coupe glass. Drop angostura over foam if desired and enjoy!

Vanilla Tea Syrup

1/2 cup vanilla tea, brewed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

  1. Brew vanilla tea per instructions.
  2. Heat finished tea over medium-high until it simmers. Stir in sugar until it has completely dissolved.
  3. Allow to simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and cool completely. Store chilled for up to 14 days.

Happy Drinking

Thanks for joining me! Be looking for new food and drink recipes to satisfy your inner cocktail nerd.

“I’m very type-A, and many things in my life are about control and domination, but eating should be a submissive experience, where you let down your guard and enjoy the ride.”

-Anthony Bourdain
Sherry Sour

Sherry and tequila are one of my favorite combinations, whether it’s shaken with lime or stirred in a Negroni riff. Sweet, sour, nutty, and dry, this version of a sherry sour has added complexity from falernum, a clove and lime flavored liqueur hailing from the Caribbean.

Sherry Sour

1⁄4 oz falernum
3⁄4 oz honey
1 oz fresh lemon
1⁄2 oz añejo tequila
1 oz amontillado sherry

  1. Combine all ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice.
  2. Shake vigorously for about 40-60 seconds, until shaker tin freezes in your hand.
  3. Double strain through a fine sieve into a stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel.
Cocktail Lists

Best Pour & Lore Cocktails of 2020

Check out these cocktails from Pour & Lore 2020 and mix yourself something fantastic for the first day of the new year!