Under The Table is a new dinner party concept that is the brainchild of Jen Marlatt, co-owner of The Table on E Fifth Ave in Columbus Ohio. Jen invites female bartenders to host a four-course dinner paired with craft cocktails in the cozy basement of the restaurant. The first dinner was hosted by bartender Shea Wallace. One of her four unique and delicious cocktails was crafted with a simple syrup made with a croissant. This proved a delightful ingredient that lent a perfect amount of buttery goodness to the tipple. Who’da thunk? The food was typically delicious fare that we’ve come to expect at The Table and we got to break bread with folks we’ve never met before. Seating is limited so keep an eye out for the next one.

Not Your Mother's Gin & Tonic

Tonic water has been around for about 160 years. It was used back in the 1800’s to fend off malaria because of its high quinine content. Today’s tonic water has a much lower quinine content so it won’t prevent malaria or leg cramps but it will jazz up your glass of gin if its made properly. I recently visited Pints & Union, a cool bar in New Albany, Indiana, a small town across the Ohio River from Louisville, KY where they do tonic right. They make their tonic in-house and the one that I tasted was infused with allspice and lemongrass.  

Another wonderful product of the craft cocktail movement, many bars are making their own unique tonics… and for that, I thank you bartenders! Ask your favorite bartender if they’re making tonic in-house, if so, give it a whirl, you won’t be disappointed.

P.S. If you want to visit Pints & Union, it’s on Market Street in downtown New Albany, IN. And to learn more about Pints & Union look for our next podcast, set to drop in January, 2019.

Fan Favorite

If you’re looking to up your cocktail game to impress your friends and family this Holiday season, we’ve got you covered. At the end of each Columbus Craft Cocktail Tour, we ask our guests to choose their favorite cocktail of the evening. The recipes to these “fan favorite” cocktails can be found on our website. Many of these recipes can be made into a punch so you’re not spending all your time mixing cocktails. We will eventually publish all these recipes in a cocktail book but, for now, you can find them on our COCKTAILS page.

Happy Thanksgiving. Cheers!


Last Sunday night we hosted our second “I’m Not “Really” A Bartender” amateur cocktail competition. For this competition, we pair cocktail enthusiasts with professional bartenders who serve as their mentors to sharpen and/or develop their skills as a bartender and help them develop cocktail recipes.

Our contestants this time around were a Roman Catholic Priest, the Superintendent of Liquor Control for the State of Ohio and a Business Strategist/Irish Whiskey Podcaster. The mentors that they were paired with are all rock stars of the craft cocktail scene in Columbus, Ohio. They all performed magnificently. So much so that the judges had a very tough time picking a winner. It was like watching an episode of Top Chef where you want all the Chef’s to win because they’re so great but not picking a winner would be a disservice to the competitors. The competition was taped before a live studio audience and we’ll post it to YouTube as soon as we get it edited. You can see for yourself what a great time it was.

What you probably won’t see is how nervous all the competitors were. This was so striking to me because each of these men make a living presenting to a crowd — Fr. Nic delivers his homily at church service, Barry speaks to crowds of business people at seminars and hosts a video and podcast called Stories & Sips, and Jim is an attorney by trade and bureaucrat charged with controlling the liquor in the entire State. All complex, high profile positions. In the end, they all got through it with flying colors and, I think, a greater appreciation for what it takes to be behind the stick.  

Barry, the Irishman, skillfully won first place with a well-thought-out cocktail and presentation that, of course, included a potato garnish.


Hopefully you’ve taken the time out of your busy schedule to listen to our podcast “If This Bar Could Talk”. It’s a podcast about bartenders and the stories they have to tell as well as the storied history of cocktails, spirits and bars. We’ve had a lot of fun recording it. The best part is getting to know our local bartenders a little better. The great cocktail recipes aren’t bad either. After the Holiday’s, we’ll be back with new episodes and hopefully fewer “so’s” and “umm’s” from yours truly. Like most people, I cringe a little when I hear my voice. I hate how I’m all nasally and twangy. But the worst is how often I say “so” and “umm”.  Apparently, my brain doesn’t work fast enough to put together what I’m going to say next. To correct this annoying flaw, I’ve decided to make it a drinking game.

Subscribe to the podcast and grab a cocktail or a bottle of your favorite spirit (while in the safety of your home, of course) and each time I pause and say “so” or “umm”, drink! That’ll teach me.


On a rare Sunday afternoon (rare because we had nothing to do except enjoy the day), we decided to have a drink at the stylish Soul Bar at The Joseph Hotel in the Short North Arts District. I ordered an Aperol Spritz and our bartender, Alex, asked “would you like that with a shot of tequila?”. It was a question that I’d never been asked before. It had never occurred to me to add tequila to an Aperol Spritz but being a fan of both, I said yes. From this day forward, I will always order a spritz with a shot of tequila. Cheers!


The Scofflaw Cocktail.

Ever heard of it?  I hadn’t until a recent visit to Cris Dehlavi’s bar at M Restaurant. She thought it would be something we’d enjoy, and she was right. This cocktail contains some of my most beloved spirits, Bourbon and Dry Vermouth.  I LOVE vermouth. Blair prefers a dry martini, so I always ask the bartender to swirl the vermouth in Blair’s glass and pour the excess into mine. I’ve never figured out if I should order my martini very wet? Is that a thing? Anyway, the best vermouths in the world (in my opinion) were invented in 1786 by Giuseppe and Antonio Carpano, respectively. Carpano Antica is a sweet vermouth and Carpano Blanco is a white vermouth. You can find cheaper vermouths but, trust me, it’s worth the extra money. The Scofflaw is made with dry vermouth and we use Carpano Blanco at home. If you’re ordering the Scofflaw at a bar, make sure they have house-made grenadine. If they don’t, you need to question why you’re there. You can make grenadine at home, it’s really easy, just google the recipe. Cheers!


Scofflaw Cocktail

2 oz Bourbon or rye whiskey
1 oz Dry vermouth
.25 oz Lemon juice
.5 oz grenadine
2 dash Orange bitters


I’ve always enjoyed the flavors of an Old Fashioned but I’ve never been fond of the pulverized bits of cherry and orange floating around in my cocktail or the granules of sugar that settle to the bottom ruining my final sip with grit and excessive sweetness. A couple years ago, I was sitting at a bar where the guest next to me ordered an Old Fashioned. I watched as the bartender dropped a chunk of ice into a rocks glass, dashed some bitters, squirted some simple syrup, added the whiskey and stirred and finally, expressed a lemon peel over the drink — that was it, clean and simple. I inquired about the technique and was told by the bartender that the original Old Fashioned recipe did not call for the muddling of fruit. In that moment, I felt the presence of my cocktail-loving ancestors. It was as though they had descended upon this very bar to show me the way to a proper and delicious Old Fashioned (this may not be far from the truth as this particular bar is, in fact, haunted).

I decided to do some research. Turns out, the original recipe which dates back to the 1850’s called for a sugar cube, bitters and whiskey. Muddling was called for but only for the sugar cube. It seems that, through the years, the recipe has evolved and “modernized” to include the muddled fruit. I for one think the original recipe is the best… although I do prefer simple syrup to the sugar cube.

In my research, I found that the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky claims to be the birthplace of the Old Fashioned. This was debunked by cocktail historian David Wondrich who found mention of the cocktail a dozen years before the Pendennis Club opened. The Pendennis Club did, however, invent another less-know classic cocktail named for the club. The Pendennis Club Cocktail is a gin based sour cocktail. Even if you don’t like gin, give this a try, you’ll be glad that you did.

Old Fashioned Recipe

Sugar cube
2 Dashes Angostura bitters
2 oz whiskey

Place sugar cube in rocks glass, add bitters and muddle. Add large ice cube and whiskey and stir. Express a lemon peel over the cocktail and drop into the glass.


Pendennis Club Cocktail Recipe

.5 oz lime juice
1 oz Apricot Liqueur
2 – 3 dashes Peychaud’s Aromatic Bitters
3 oz Old Tom Gin

Shake all ingredients with ice and fine strain into a chilled cocktail glass


The Manhattan is a sexy and classy cocktail with its deep ruby color and rich warming flavors. It’s my favorite winter cocktail. I can take my Manhattan with Rye or Bourbon and even Canadian whiskey, but I cannot take it shaken. Shaking a Manhattan is bartender malpractice… mixology malfeasance. The ugly foam that floats on top of the shaken Manhattan is cringe worthy; the tiny shards of ice that water down the boozy cocktail send shock waves through my pallet; the faded Cosmo-like color, ugh. A shaken Manhattan upsets all of my senses, and I am not alone. 

One evening, we ventured out to a local bar where we always order beer or wine or a perfunctory cocktail like gin and tonic. Our friend, we’ll call her Heidi, texted us that she was at the end of a challenging day and needed a cocktail. She asked where we were, said to save her a seat, order her a Manhattan and she’d be there in 5. I followed her instruction and ordered the Manhattan.  Minutes later, I hear the sound of ice being tossed around in a shaker. “Oh no, please don’t let that be Heidi’s cocktail.” The bartender placed a foamy pink cocktail in front of the empty barstool.  We looked at each other with eyes the size of saucers “what should we do, she’ll be here any second and this is going to make her bad day even worse”!  I grabbed the meringue topped cocktail and began blowing on it to try to minimize the foam. 

Somewhat successful, I sat the glass down just in time. Heidi walked into the bar and plopped down in the seat that we had saved. She took one look at the glass sitting in front of her and said “what is this?” Me: “that’s the cocktail you asked for.” Heidi: “no, I asked for a Manhattan.” Me: “I ordered a Manhattan.” A good sport, Heidi tasted the cocktail. Without any emotion, she summoned the bartender over. Super-friendly bubbly bartender: “How’s your drink?” Heidi: “Um, what exactly is it?” Super-friendly bubbly bartender: “It’s a Manhattan. Your friends ordered you a Manhattan. Do you not want a Manhattan?” Heidi, as she slides the cocktail across the bar toward the bartender: “I want a Manhattan. This is not a Manhattan. I am sure you did your best but I can’t drink this.” Her cocktail was replaced with a glass of wine.

On another occasion, I visited one of my regular stops and ordered a Manhattan from someone I don’t usually order a cocktail from. He sat the drink down in front of me and the second I looked at the foamy mess, without a word, the drink was whisked away by the bartender that generally makes my cocktails. With apologies, he returned with a properly made Manhattan, stirred, not shaken.

We had discussed a solution to this dilemma would be to ask for our Manhattan stirred, not shaken but I’m not convinced that is a good idea. If the bartender doesn’t know that a Manhattan should be stirred, do we want to drink their Manhattan anyway?

The Manhattan

The history of the cocktail is unclear, some accounts say it originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City in early 1870 and was invented by Dr. Iain Marshall for a banquet hosted by Winston Churchill's mother. Other accounts say it was invented by a bartender by the name of Black at a bar on Houston St in NYC.

From David Wondrich's Recipe

Prepare a cocktail glass or coupe by placing it in the freezer for 30 minutes. Measure 2 oz Rye whiskey and 1 oz sweet vermouth into a standard pint glass. Add 2 – 3 dashes of Angostura bitters. Add ice and STIR about 50 revolutions. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with lemon or cherry.


So I don’t recall what I was reading or why this classic cocktail came to mind, but I announced to my boyfriend, Blair, that I have never tasted a Gibson. In fact, I don’t recall ever tasting a pickled onion. The next day, we’re at M Restaurant for happy hour (if you haven’t been to M for happy hour you are really missing out on a great deal Monday – Saturday, 5 – 7) and I order my very first Gibson. The bartender, Josh, presents me with a handsome, crisp looking cocktail garnished with two pickled pearl onions. With excitement, I pick up the chilled martini glass for my first taste of the classic tipple… it was delicious; cold and salty with just a hint of the onion flavor. Ironically, I am one of those people who generally avoid onions as they tend to stay with me for days but there must be something about the pickling that mends this awful side effect. I am giddy, so pleased with my tasty martini when Cris comes over to greet us (Cris is the head bartender, master of spirits, and all around bad-ass bartender) and proceeds to straw-taste my Gibson (she can do that, we’re friends) and exclaims, "it’s not dirty enough". She highjacks my cocktail and returns it to me with a bit more pickled onion juice and a dash of olive juice. Holy Martini… my new favorite cocktail.

Most evenings, if we’re not belly up to one of our favorite local bars, we can be found on our balcony sipping a cocktail carefully crafted by Blair. I should mention that, while Blair has never been employed as a bartender, he can mix a cocktail that would rival any seasoned bartender I know. He could never keep a job in a bar though because he would insist on joining you for a drink and would forget that there are other customers to tend to. At any rate, with pickled onions now in stock at home (olives and Gin always in stock) Blair mixes my Gibson, dirty, very dirty, with a dash of olive juice… life is good.


The Gibson

Believed to have been created in San Francisco by businessman Walter D.K. Gibson in the late 1800s. Mr. Gibson thought that eating onions prevented colds.

Traditional Recipe

2.5 oz Gin (or vodka)
.5 oz Dry vermouth

Add both ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice
Stir and train into a chilled cocktail glass
Garnish with cocktail onion


Non-traditional Recipe — We’ll call it, the dirty Gibson (the way I like it)

2.5 oz Gin (or Vodka)
Dry vermouth rinse
Cocktail onion juice, to taste… say 2 bar spoons
Dash of olive juice (just to make it a bit briny), a dash or two
Garnish with cocktail onion