Bartender Spotlight Series: Kate Wise of Juniper Bar at Hotel VT
“For the love of god please refrigerate your vermouth!”. That was the one thing Kate Wise of Juniper Bar at Hotel Vermont wanted to make sure I put in this piece about her, so there you go Kate!
It was a warm and sunny Wednesday in October when myself and Josh, our Burlington Tasting Room Manager, went to go visit Kate Wise, a Bartender at Juniper Bar located at Hotel Vermont. A rustic and modern home away from home nestled in downtown Burlington, VT overlooking beautiful Lake Champlain. They’re known for their cocktail program that is oriented around using local ingredients. They pride themselves on stocking their bar with the finest craft spirits from all over the state of Vermont. Patrons will find Rum, Whiskey, Brandy, Gin, Vodka, and more, all produced in our little state alone. Look closer at their cocktail menu and you’ll see that the ingredients paired with the spirits are also locally sourced, coming from Vermont farmers, foragers, and other producers. They really do stay true to their mission of highlighting the finest products in Vermont, and do a great job of it. One of our favorite cocktails currently on the menu is their ‘Sweater Weather’. It features our Maple Cask Rum, Ploughgate Creamery Butter and Cold Hollow Cider. It’s a perfect concoction of local ingredients that will warm you up during this cold Winter. We are fortunate enough to have a great relationship with Juniper Bar, and have almost every single one of our spirits on their bar shelves. Therefore it was a no brainer to go visit our friends there and ask them what their favorite Mad River Cocktails were!
A PX Rum Negroni
When we arrived it was pretty quiet, meaning we had Kate all to ourselves. We sat down at the copper bar and said our hellos to the staff and then got right to the point; we asked Kate to make us her favorite cocktail using one of our spirits. Without hesitating she chose to make a PX Rum Negroni. The PX Rum happens to be my personal favorite spirit of ours, therefore I was very excited for her to make something with it. The PX Rum is distilled from Fair Trade Demerara Cane sugar, aged in oak barrels for 6 months, and aged in PX sherry barrels for another 6 months. The result is a nutty, fruity, and subtly smokey spirit that currently claims our highest award, a Double Gold Medal from the World Spirits Competition in San Francisco.
We decided to take the photoshoot and interview outside since it was such a nice day. Out on the hotel patio she started pouring the ingredients into her mixing glass while I started to snap photos, and she started to share the story of how this cocktail came to fruition. It was actually inspired by one of her favorite patrons, Kim, a familiar patron at our own Burlington Tasting Room as well. Kim has been a fan of ours almost since day one, so it’s no wonder she went into a local bar asking for a cocktail specifically using the PX Rum. She asked for it to be boozy, a little bit bitter, but still smooth on the palette, and the answer was a PX Rum Negroni. The ingredients included the PX Rum, Campari, and Dolin Rouge. The Campari provides the bitter component, the Dolin Rouge adds spice notes, and the PX Rum adds that little bit of sweetness to balance it all out. It was the perfect cocktail for a Fall day, but I honestly would have it any time of year. I had Kate pose with her creation, and from the pictures you can really tell that she loves what she does, and is just super photogenic it’s almost unfair.
Kate is the kind of Bartender that usually gravitates towards making classic cocktails with her own twist on them. She has been bartending for over 17 years but has been with Juniper for only a short time. She absolutely loves working there because of the people she’s with every day. The team there is great; they are supportive, fun and love what they do. She also enjoys the customers she gets to meet everyday; they come from all over the world and share their stories and ask all about Vermont. On the side she has her own business where she teaches private cocktail classes and does consulting. We definitely recommend a visit to Hotel Vermont or booking her for a class. She will be able to stir you up the perfect drink that you are looking for without hesitating.
Written by Isabelle Federico, Marketing and Communications Coordinator