We ate Tastethedram are always looking for new and interesting personalities to interview. We personally believe that everyday people are more relatable to and a whole of a lot more interesting then someone who gets paid for a living to promote a product. It is more genuine. So let’s get right into this.
Lisa, let’s just get into this. Give us a 20 second synapse about who you are.
LC: I’m a rural Washington state farm kid turned Phoenix city girl. I love all things related to alcohol, from history to chemistry to culture. But smoke is my spirit animal especially when it comes in the form of whisk(e)y, mezcal or cigars. I am a passionate cocktail creator and alcohol enthusiast. My love is finding ways to enhance how you experience your favorite spirit. I believe that life is meant to be lived as a series of unforgettable moments. So instead of creating something that is simply nice to drink I strive to create something that is an unforgettable experience.
How did you get into mixology or cocktail creations? Was there someone in your life that inspired you, or are you self-made?
LC: I grew up in a non-drinking family. So I actually started out a decade ago in the foodie scene as the slow food movement was taking a hold in America. That really trained my palate to see, taste, smell and experience everything on my plate. At some point I craved the same adventure in the drinks that complimented my meals. The craft cocktail scene also started to take off so more options became available. I continue to be fascinated by how a well crafted cocktail can emphasize, prolong and compliment the delicate flavors in whisky, gin and other spirits. So it wasn’t so much a single person that served as inspiration as it was an inspirational journey of discovery.
What motivated you to start your Instagram page and bring your love of cocktails to social media?
LC: So actually it was the fact that all my other social media feeds were getting stuffed full of cocktail photos, recipes and tedious tasting notes. My family started to wonder if I had a problem! So I created Cocktail Maven, as an anonymous place to share beautiful photos of the drinks I enjoyed along the way. It honestly was never intended to turn into what it is today. It all happened organically.
What is your process when creating a new cocktail ? Also how do you select the right spirits/bitters/ingredients to use and make sure you have the right ratio of each?
LC: The process starts with some kind of inspiration which I keep in mind as I begin to create. I select the ingredients all around that inspiration. If I am trying to evoke a certain feeling then I focus on prolonging that, a certain flavor then I look to deepen it. Everything centers around that. As far as ratios go, there are a lot of standard cocktail ratios out there and I suggest people use those to start until you get a feel for things. For example; 2 ounces of spirit, an ounce of sweet and ½ ounce of tart is a great way to start. Sweet can be liqueurs or syrups or just plain old simple syrup. Tarts are things like lemon or lime juice but also vinegar is a great tart. I am crazy about the subtle flavors of bitters so I always add a drop or two of bitters to my drinks. Taste as you go and adjust. They won’t all be winners, but I can think of worse things to try and fail at!
Give us the rundown on the classic old fashioned. The biggest issue we have noticed from venues is that there is always some sort of imbalance between the bitters and the whiskey. Tell us your recipe of your favorite old fashioned.
LC: My house old fashioned is 2 ounces of angel’s envy bourbon, 1/2 ounce of demerera (raw sugar) syrup, 3 hard dashes of my homemade spiced orange bitters, stirred until chilled, served over a giant clear ice cube, in a tobacco smoked glass with a flamed orange peel. Now that’s a little extreme for most. So if I was going to make it a classic I wouldn’t actually smoke the glass. The rest I would leave the same. I am super picky about my old fashioneds. I love spirit forward drinks and the last thing I want is soda or a lot of fruit smashed into it overpowering the taste of that fabulous bourbon.
Your well respected Instagram features whiskey/cocktail and cigar pairings. What do you think personally it is about cigars and whiskey/cocktails, that makes the pairing so perfect?
LC: There are two things that make it perfect for me. The first one is mental. We live in a crazy fast paced world. Cigars force you slow down. It can take an hour or 2-3 hours to smoke a cigar. Alcohol naturally relaxes you. So combining them takes you down a notch, lowers stress and allows you to just sit and think for awhile. Paired together you can enjoy time reconnecting with friends or you can silently sit and solve the world’s problems. The second reason is that each actually enhances the other. We have over 12 million smell receptors in our noses and only a few thousand in our mouths. Our sense of smell is much more nuanced than our sense of taste. Paired correctly you can use each one to enhance the other and to help you pick out the delicate flavors and prolong them. Mind you, there is an art to it. You can’t just toss anything together. But done well, it can be transcendent.
How did you get into whiskey yourself? Was it love at first sip? Tell us about your first experience.
LC: I had some friends introduce me to good bourbon about 10 years ago and I never looked back. I had only tasted cheap bottom shelf whiskey before. So my first taste of bourbon was life altering. My love affair with whiskey only gets deeper. I truly love every kind of whisk(e)y. American, Irish, Scotch, Japanese, Indian….all of it. I love the dramatic differences between the genres themselves and the subtle differences between individual bottles within a family.
What are some tips you have for other aspiring self mixologist / cocktail mavens looking to build a name for themselves on Instagram?
LC: People come to me for advice a lot. My first question is always “what makes you different than everyone else”? You need to be special, do something no one else is doing. However, I will caution that your uniqueness must be real and not forced. People can see and feel authenticity; and they will gravitate to it. If you want a great example check out @socktails_co. Chris posts pictures of cocktails with his awesome sock collection. It’s simple, unique, different, fun and people clearly love it. Find what makes you special and focus on that.
Is there a certain direction you hope to take your Instagram into? and is there anything we should be on the lookout this year?
LC: The word Maven comes from Hebrew and loosely translated over time means someone who likes to share what they know. I haven’t had as much time as I would like to share all the things I have learned so far on this journey. I’d like to spend more time sharing the tips, techniques, history and fun things that have enriched my experiences with cocktails. As a result you will see more videos in 2018 and an expanded website.
You co-host the Lushlife podcast. Can you give us a little more info on the podcast?
LC: The Lushus Life is a weekly podcast that I host with @bourbonsipper who is a bourbon expert living near Louisville, KY. It’s a fun, educational and irreverent look at all things alcohol and the serious… or rather not so serious business of being an adult. There is nothing out there quite like it. It will keep you laughing and drinking while you learn something new.