We recently had a chance to catch up with Andrea Hoover, one of our resident cocktail experts, to pick her brain about her career, the world of mixology and what’s happening here at Cameron Mitchell Restaurants (CMR). Andrea is a lead bar trainer who works closely with the director of our beverage program, Ryan Valentine.
How long have you worked for CMR?
I celebrated my two-year anniversary on February 20!
What other positions have you held in the company?
I began as a server and also tended bar at M.
How did you get into bartending?
I was 21, serving at Lindey’s in German Village during Sunday brunch and the bartender no called/no showed. My manager asked me if I thought I could do it and I took the opportunity and ran with it. There were other people who worked there who had a lot more seniority than me, so had that person not bailed on their shift, I may have not gotten the chance to show them I could do it!
How would you define mixology?
My interest in mixology stems from my love of food and I think of them as one and the same. For me, mixology is playing with the flavors, textures, aromas and aesthetics of cocktails.
What’s your favorite cocktail to make?
An Old Fashioned! I think every bartender I know believes they make the best one!
Care to share your recipe for the best Old Fashioned?
Add 2 ounces Bulleit Bourbon and stir to dissolve sugar
Add ice and enjoy!
What is your favorite cocktail to drink?
I’m typically a bourbon/neat kind of lady, but I’ve been on a Negroni kick lately. It’s simple but delicious!
How do I make a Negroni?
It’s simple but delicious –
Stir together in a mixing glass with ice, strain into a highball over hand-chipped ice and garnish with an orange slice.
What exciting things are going on in the beverage world at CMR?
I’m really pumped about the beverage program at Hudson 29. We have house-carbonated bottled cocktails. We introduced them at M last year. Our first machine only yielded six bottles per batch – now we’re carbonating gallons at a time at 30 bottles per gallon. Being part of that evolution has been really gratifying.
What’s the most unique drink order you’ve ever taken?
There’s a regular at M who orders Lagavulin shaken with ice and served in a martini glass. Any scotch drinker would shudder at the thought of that – but hey, you like what you like!
Are there any unusual ingredient combinations that work surprisingly well together?
I’m always intrigued by odd combos. This past winter, my friends and I mixed homemade egg nog, espresso tequila and old fashion bitters. Previously I would have said egg nog and tequila belong in their separate lanes, but it was delicious! Like a White Russian on steroids.
What are the hottest trends in the mixology world right now? And what do you think the next popular thing will be?
What’s going on in the mixology world right now is spectacular. There are innovative trends like cocktails on tap, nitro infusions, bottled cocktails and clarifications – but I am a purist at heart. Right now the mixology world on the whole is being elevated. People are using top-of-the-line tools, quality products from local sources, house-made infusions and specialty ice programs. The people who were one slinging drinks to merely pay the bills now take pride in their craft and that’s awesome to me.
In my opinion, the next popular thing in the mixology world will be the carbonated cocktails over at Hudson 29 – I’m not biased or anything…
Which trends are on their way out?
I hate to put the kibosh on any trend or technique someone has worked hard on. What I do know is that quality withstands the test of time. That being said, I believe bartenders with no passion for the craft are of a trend that’s on its way out.
What about food pairings? What are your favorite food and cocktail pairings from a Cameron Mitchell Restaurant?
While many people enjoy pairing wine with food, cocktails are so much more fun! There are so many more flavors to play with. I have a favorite pairing from every single concept in the company. I enjoy nothing more than a Pine-Rum cocktail and potstickers combo at Rusty Bucket on a Sunday afternoon. The rum is spiced, sweet and delicious – the potstickers balance out the rum with their citrusy, savory flavor. Number two at this moment would be a Chopin dirty martini on the rocks with bleu cheese-stuffed olives alongside the bruschetta at Martini. The sweetness in the sauce and the saltiness of the olive brine… Yum!!