Nowadays, you won't find Cathy Bartlett behind the bar every night. That's because the skilled bartender quickly rose the ranks to become the general manager at one of the city's top restaurants, Lüke San Antonio. She started at the riverfront restaurant in late 2011 and it was there that Cathy honed her skills as a bartender, crafting inspired cocktails to present "happiness in a glass."
How'd you get into bartending?
So Lüke is the second job I've ever had. My first job was with Chili's and it started as an after-college job. I started off in serving and moved up to the bar. It was very basic bartending, pouring beer, making margaritas. While I was working one day I actually got recruited to work here at Lüke. When I came to interview, I thought I was interviewing for a hostess job. When I was hired, I got here and they put me behind the bar. I thought, 'wow, cool, this is awesome.' It was here at Lüke that I really started getting into craft cocktails and I learned about spirits, craft beer, wine. It wasn't just about pouring a drink but about creating something.
What makes Kinsman an interesting spirit to use in cocktails?
It has different personalities. It's a great spirit to drink neat because it's approachable yet bold. But it's also great to mix with because of its pronounced aromatics and bright flavors. It's refined so you don't want to do anything crazy and mask it. You want to highlight the spirit. That's why it's really fun because you can use it to make awesome, flavorful cocktails.
What ingredients play well with the spirit?
Spirits wise, I've used whiskey and it came out great. We did a spin off of a Vieux Carré using a rye whiskey and it paired incredibly well. I like to use fresh ingredients. I don't like to use a whole lot of different spirits with it because I want the Rakia to shine. Ingredients like fresh honey, seasonal fruits, fresh herbs and citrus work well. It's about keeping it really simple.
Photos by Sara Ellis/Dorćol Distilling Company
The Eye of the Beholder
2 ounces Kinsman Rakia
1/2 ounce Cherry Heering
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Instructions: Combine ingredients into a mixing glass, add ice and stir. Strain into a coupe and garnish with a brandied cherry.
Cocktail by Cathy Bartlett of Lüke San Antonio