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Bartender Spotlight Series: Emily Morton of The 126

Have you discovered The 126?

Located at 126 College Street in Burlington, Vermont is The 126. Step inside and you will discover a bustling cocktail lounge filled with soft jazz music, the sound of cocktails being shaken, and patrons enjoying libations (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) made by the excellent Bartenders. Originally opened as Deli 126 in April of 2018, The 126 has quickly become a staple watering hole in Burlington. You will even find other local Bartenders there, among the other customers, enjoying their time off the clock. With a great cocktail menu, draft list, wine and cider options, as well as a Temperance Menu, The 126 has something for everyone. Events like movie marathons, food pop-ups, jam sessions, and live music round out the great experiences that they provide for the community.

The manager of this wonderful bar is none other than Emily Morton, 2019 Vermont Bartender of the Year. Emily describes herself as one part Bartender and one part historic preservationist (she earned a degree in this field!). She loves researching how the history of food and drink trends have evolved and shaped our world over the years, and what that means for current trends. She is always curious about learning more from the past so that she can apply them to the present. One passion of hers is to curate a menu that caters towards people who don’t drink alcohol, but still want the ability to go out and socialize and enjoy a delicious beverage. A lot of the people around her choose not to drink so she wanted to provide a whole menu of options for them. Using ingredients like brewed tea, distilled non-alcoholic spirits and homemade shrubs, she has been able to create an impressive array of Temperance Cocktails available at the bar.

She of course is still a very big fan of creating cocktails with alcoholic spirits. Given her curiosity about cocktails in the 20s, and the theme of The 126, she is steered towards classic cocktails using traditional ingredients. Being based in Vermont though, where Vermont-produced ingredients are plentiful, she always tries to incorporate them onto the menu. Being a big fan of our Bourbon Whiskey, she wanted to use our spirit in one of her original cocktails for the current menu.

The Donchester Arrow

Located in one of the bathrooms of the bar is a framed print depicting ‘The Donchester Arrow’, a type of evening shirt that was popular back in the 20s and worn by many men who ventured into speakeasies. Under the image it reads; ‘immaculate and in its place’, describing the classic and everlasting nature of the style. This quote is what specifically inspired Emily to create The Donchester Arrow cocktail. She wanted to create something that could withstand the test of time, that used old and new techniques, and included ingredients that haven’t been more widely used since the 20s. She decided to base the framework of her cocktail off of the classic cocktail, The Old Fashioned. Known as the ‘original cocktail’ this drink is one of few that has stood the test of time. It is still widely consumed to this day, and is the inspiration for other cocktails. Emily knew she also wanted to use sherry as one of the ingredients because it was used regularly in cocktails in the 20s, but it hasn’t made quite the comeback since then. She’s a fan of the nutty flavor and rich taste they bring to cocktails, and the fact that they pair well with Bourbon, the traditional spirit used in Old Fashioneds. Our Bourbon Whiskey in particular is a mash of corn, wheat barley and oats, and is aged for about 1.5 years in new oak barrels. Due to the amount of corn in the mash, the finished spirit is extremely smooth on the palate with a distinct corn sweetness.

After tinkering with different ratios, Sherrys, and other complimentary ingredients, she finally nailed down the recipe. The Donchester Arrow includes our Bourbon Whiskey, Amontillado Sherry, Asuncion Oloroso Sherry, Angostura Bitters, and Demerara sugar. Upon first sip you immediately get the rich, nutty flavor of the sherry, but roll it around on your tongue and you can taste the distinct flavor of our bourbon. The bitters and the sugar balance everything nicely in the end so that it all goes down smoothly. With this cocktail, Emily was able to bring old and new together. With the ingredients, methods, and flavors, she brought a classic 20s cocktail to the 21st century to be enjoyed.

Be sure to visit Emily Morton and her team at The 126 for delicious libations (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic), great local music, and a great atmosphere to hang out in.

Written and published by Isabelle Federico on February 10, 2020.
Edited by Brianne Lucas on August 17, 2021.

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