Setting the mood at home- it’s not just the light of a candle that plays a role in creating a romantic setting. The scent of a candle helps to engage humans on an in-depth emotional level. We are drawn to scents that make us feel a certain way, so if a candle has a particular scent, then it’s bound to help create a romantic association in the brain. Couples can definitely engage in aromatherapy together and with cocktails also in the mix they can embody the scents with drinks for a romantic heart opening night.
Today, in Part 2 of our getting personal with our favorite bartender Leah Pupkin from Oregon who curated a beautiful cocktail menu featuring our best selling scents.
B: What is it like dating another bartender- is there a line between collaboration vs competition?
LP: There will be times when one of us gets an opportunity and the other doesn’t. For example, Yancy just got a job. Of course, it’s natural for me to be a little jealous. I’m a competitive, goal-oriented person. But mostly, I’m happy for him because he deserves it. He works so hard and I’ve learned so much from him, so I love to see him succeed. The best thing about dating someone who does what you do is that they intrinsically “get” you. They understand you. They understand the passions and the struggles and the ups and downs of your career and lifestyle, because it’s theirs, too. I had never had that before. In the past, I dated guys who worked Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 type jobs. They’d be off on weekends and I would be working; it would take a toll on our social life. So it’s nice to be with someone who’s on the same wavelength as you.
Q: How would each of you describe your style of bartending?
LP: I’ve worked in so many different kinds of bars, from dive bars to high-volume clubs to upscale cocktail bars and everything in between. I would equate that to having a really well-rounded education. I can make you a special, bespoke cocktail and have a lovely, intimate chat, but I can also multitask my ass off filling service tickets, opening and closing tabs, staying on top of my guests needs, and running the whole show. The best part of my job is when I get to talk to people and make connections that make them want to come back. Whether they’re interested in learning more about cocktails and spirits, or whatever horror movie is on my t-shirt, it’s creating a memorable experience that makes a bar guest become a regular. I grew up doing theatre and playing music; I’ve been a performer my whole life, so I think that really informs how I am behind a bar. I enjoy putting on a show, but not to the point that it would ever be a hindrance to service. So I would describe my style of bartending as efficient, but attentive. It’s all about that balance.
Q: What has been your most memorable project specifically to work on or place to work at?
LP: I worked at The Garden City Hotel, which is the only luxury hotel on Long Island. It’s been open since 1874, so needless to say it’s fairly iconic. Working there was such a mixed bag. I learned so much under the tutelage of the bar director, a very talented guy named Brian Russell. The hotel opened a speakeasy, and that was the first time I was trusted to create a cocktail menu of my own, so that was a big deal for me. But at the same time, it was the most dysfunctional and poorly run establishment I’ve ever worked at. Management treated the employees like trash. We were verbally harassed, over-worked, and abused in every way possible. After working there for over a year, I was offered another opportunity to help open two new bars on the east end of Long Island, and that was my cue to leave. It was a toxic work environment, but I learned a lot, not just about cocktails, but about what not to do and what’s not okay. Everyone deserves to work somewhere they’re appreciated, respected, and treated with basic human decency. But that was a learning experience in every way possible, and I’m very grateful for that. And to end on a positive note, being a hotel, we had a lot of fun celebrity stays. Slash, Marilyn Manson, Allison Janney, Sean Hayes, and The Undertaker, to name a few…
(banana nut bread & honey)
2 oz aged rum
.5 oz banana liqueur
1 oz fresh lime juice
.25 oz honey syrup
3 dashes black walnut bitters
Combine all ingredients in your shaker. Add ice and shake. Fine strain straight up into a coupe glass. Garnish with a dehydrated banana chip.
(coffee & cedar wood)
2 oz bourbon
.5 oz coffee liqueur
.25 oz luxardo maraschino liqueur
3 dashes woodland bitters
Combine all ingredients in your mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain over ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with an orange twist and amarena cherry.
(high tide & beach linen)
3 oz gin
.5 oz Lillet Blanc
3 dashes orange bitters
3 drops saline solution
Combine all ingredients in your mixing glass. Add ice and stir. Strain straight up into a coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.