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Behind the bar with Olaf Harmel


When Olaf Harmel arrived to San Antonio, he got here at a time when the craft cocktail revival was in its infancy. All these years later, the longtime barman is gearing up to relocate from his modest upstairs bar at Bluebox to Brigid, a modern American restaurant expected to open soon in Southtown, where Harmel will run a more culinary-driven cocktail menu. At the bar, Harmel said he wants to circulate spirits regularly to accommodate the always-changing food menu. Still, the one bottle he always wants to have on hand is Kinsman Rakia. 

How did you get into bartending? 

I didn't do it intentionally. A friend of mine opened a bar in Corpus Christi and I helped run the bar for awhile. But I needed to learn how to bartend. So I read a lot and applied myself. When I came to San Antonio I had to be full on focused. You can't be a bar manager without knowing how to bartend. 

What makes Kinsman Rakia an interesting spirit to use in cocktails? 

It's one of those spirits that elevates people. It's just so unique that it broadens people's drinking perspective. It has a unique flavor and texture but still has some heat to it. I love products that have a full-flavor profile. As a bartender I enjoy being in a position of introducing people to new things they haven't had before. 

What ingredients play well with the spirit? 

Gin, citrus go well with it. Raspberries, plums, grapefruit, mandarin, ginger. It blends really well with almonds, basil, pretty much anything that goes well with apricots. Just a small amount of Kinsman will enhance the cocktail. It's very supple. It's a year-round spirit you can use to make refreshing, luscious cocktails. 

Photos by Sara Ellis/Dorćol Distilling Company

Sunshine Daydream

1 1/4 ounces Kinsman Rakia

1/4 ounce apricot liqueur

1/4 ounce Amaretto

1 ounce cranberry juice

1/4 ounce lemon juice

Peach, quartered

Instructions: Lightly muddle peach quarter in the bottom of a rocks glass. Set aside. Assemble remaining ingredients into a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake. Strain cocktail into the rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with peach slices and blackberry. 

Cocktail by Olaf Harmel of Blue Box

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NYC-based culinary website gives nod to San Antonio's Kinsman Rakia

Via Tasting Table

Via Tasting Table

In 2013, Dorćol Distilling Co. introduced the South Side of San Antonio and the Lone Star State to a spirit with roots half a world away in the farms of Eastern Europe. 

Nearly two years later, Kinsman Rakia has become one of the premier spirits made in Texas. Sure the apricot brandy is unfamiliar to many folks but once they try it they find it has more body and depth than vodka while displaying all the complexity found in whiskey and gin. 

Last week, Tasting Table, a culinary website based in New York City, mentioned Dorćol's Kinsman Rakia in an article that looked at a handful of other U.S.-made spirits with roots from all over the word. After dinner, before dinner or whenever, at Dorćol we craft a traditional, old-world spirit for us all to enjoy. 

Here's what Kara Newman, spirits editor for Wine Enthusiast and New York-based writer, had to say about our award-winning brandy in her post: 

Kinsman Rakia: San Antonio, Texas
This small-batch apricot brandy is made by Dorćol Distillery; co-owner Boyan Kalusevic grew up in Serbia, where the spirit is sometimes referred to as "Serbian moonshine." This Lone Star version mingles stone fruit with almond for an after-dinner sipper that's nothing like firewater.

After dinner, before dinner or whenever, at Dorćol we craft a traditional, old-world spirit for us all to enjoy.