On the cusp of celebrating our fifth anniversary, Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Company has added a new face to the award-winning bar program. Starting today, Eric Fritts (just call him Fritts) is the team’s newest barman. Joining us from Paramour, he will run day-to-day operations at the South Flores tasting room and lead the creative direction for the spot’s robust cocktail menu. The Connecticut native has worked in the San Antonio bar scene for years. He got his start in scrappy dive bars and eventually worked his way into respected craft cocktails joints, learning the ins and outs of the craft. Aside from slinging cocktails and pouring beers, he’ll be helping to grow the Kinsman and HighWheel brands as a Brand Ambassador.
As a previous barkeep familiar with Dorćol from the start, I sat down with Fritts to chat about his new role at Dorćol, thoughts on the craft beer scene, and his take on using our award-winning apricot brandy. Let’s see what's in store:
Barmen usually have several base spirits to work with when slinging cocktails. What are your thoughts now that you only get to use one?
It’s exciting. I like that we feature just one spirit because I know the goal of every drink. Every cocktail that comes from behind this bar will feature Kinsman and feature it well.
How would you describe Kinsman’s versatility?
It’s only going to add to a cocktail and never take away anything from it. You can use it in a variety of cocktails and it’s going to compliment and accentuate the drink. As the main feature of a cocktail, you can’t go wrong. Kinsman is always going to make whatever you're concocting better. I like that it’s apricot based, which is something you don’t see everyday. I like that it’s unique and there’s nothing else out there like it. A spirit can be iconic because of the story it was inspired from. This spirit has a great family history and it’s part of what makes it special.
As the creative force behind the bar, what are your plans for the cocktail program?
I’m excited to come in and work to develop my own drinks and use such a great spirit while doing it. I want to develop different syrups, shrubs, and tinctures to compliment the brandy and not overwhelm it. I’ve worked with so many great mentors. I’m ready to take what I’ve learned and really create something special. But really, I want to help further establish and grow the identity of our brands.
What are your thoughts on HighWheel’s place in the craft beer scene?
There’s so much more to craft beer than hoppy IPAs and artificial flavorings. I think most breweries don’t get that. IPAs are great, I personally love the one we have, but you don’t need nine of them. I love that we take it back to the beginning, embracing the classic styles. It’s handcrafted beer, but it’s not pretentious, it’s not excessive flavors for the sake of excessive flavors. It’s just really good beer.
Aside from the gig behind the bar, what else excites you about this opportunity?
I’m excited to experience the entire process, both spirits and beer, getting out from behind the bar and help grow a brand beyond the tasting room. I’ve been behind the bar for six years and now it’s exciting to have the opportunity to sell beer and spirits in another way. It’s something I’ve always been passionate about, so I’m ready to learn everything from production, to sales, to consumption.
What can people expect with you behind the bar?
I always want to make sure you’re going to have a good time. That’s the whole point. You’re coming here to relax and enjoy yourself. Every time I get back here I’m ready to have fun. This is my passion. I enjoy this. I want to make drinks people will really enjoy and develop a relationship with them over time. I want to be their bartender.
Describe your approach to cocktail making?
It’s versatile and quick. I like to adapt to each guest and make sure I give them what they are looking for.
How would you describe Dorćol to someone who hasn’t visited?
You have to know it to find it. There’s relaxed identity here. The whole place has this cool industrial feel that’s refined, but not pretentious. It exemplifies the spirit it was inspired by. We are makers of the world's highest-rated brandy, that needs to be shared.
Where does brandy fit into the craft cocktail scene?
Brandy is one of the oldest spirits and it's starting to re-emerge in its own niche. Not many people know brandy was America's original spirit, long before whiskey and vodka, so it’s going to take a little education, but that’s part of the fun. We’re bringing something different to the table and that changes things.
by Valentino Lucio