Heaven Hill’s National Brand Educator Explores Her Heritage through Cocktails
My mother’s side of the family is African American, Choctaw, Blackfoot, French and Irish. My father’s side of the family is African American, Cherokee and Scottish. The flavors from all these cultures have shaped my culinary tastes, and, as such have greatly influenced my approach to cocktail creation. There are very few ingredients I think are off limits. Nuanced ingredients like apple butter, pickled rhubarb, blackberry basil shrub, mulberries, sweet peas, pineapple sage and lingonberry jam have taken center stage on my menus throughout my career as a bartender. In my current role at Heaven Hill Brands, that hasn’t changed.
A great cocktail is all about understanding balance. I think cocktails achieve greatness when the creator is true to their voice. My daughter is half Japanese, so I often utilize Asian flavors as a way of paying homage to her. My granddaughters are half Peruvian. Learning about that culture has opened new doors for me. In describing my style, I would say it pays homage to those who came before me and honors the generations to follow. The following are a few of my autumn-inspired, signature cocktails that evoke my multi-cultural heritage, while paying homage to my diverse family.