Philbrook MIX events to test area bartenders' craft, creativity
BY NICOLE MARSHALL MIDDLETON World Scene Writer
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
4/18/12 at 2:20 AM
The craft of making a great cocktail is experiencing a renaissance.
And mixologists couldn't be happier.
By embracing the complexities of drink-making, bartenders are building layer upon layer of flavor from scratch.
And it maybe easier to rely on ingredients such as commercial sweet-and-sour or bottled Bloody Mary mixes, but easy is not what this trend is about, explained Tony Collins, bar manager for The Tavern, 201 N. Main St., and McNellie's, 409 E. First St.
"Basically, the philosophy is to try and accentuate the flavor of a liquor instead of trying to mask it. That makes the drink a little more of a slow sipper," Collins said.
Collins will be one of nearly 20 top area bartenders competing Saturday at MIX, a fundraiser for Philbrook Museum. Collins said he is putting the finishing touches on the drink that he will make for the competition.
Craft cocktails - sometimes called artisan cocktails - are limited only by the bartender's imagination.
"Craft implies that there is more going on than just throwing some booze in a glass. There is an innovation to it," Collins said.
Many bartenders are making their own ingredients, such as limoncello, ginger beer or bitters. Infused liquors and spirits that have been aged in oak barrels are also popular.
"It seemed like it took root on the coasts about 10 years ago. People are returning to the pre-prohibition style of bartending," Collins said.
Craft cocktails started to become more common in Tulsa about four or five years ago, he said.
"It is little bit like the Wild West now. People are doing all kinds of things," Collins said. "You just have to think, 'What haven't I seen before?' "
At The Tavern, bartenders have been experimenting with aging pre-mixed cocktails, such as a Negroni, in oak barrels. Collins said they are also exploring such ideas as infusing hops - used as a culture in beer - into gin.
"It introduces a new flavor to the drink," Collins said.
The Tavern offers drinks such as the Gin Martini Variation - Citadelle gin, Lillet Blanc (a French apertif wine), Esprit de June (a vine-flower liqueur) and celery bitters - or the Old Cuba, which is made with Bacardi 8 rum, champagne, lime juice, mint and Angostura bitters.
And many customers are excited to try the new, creative drinks.
"They will ask, 'What are you guys working on next?' " Collins said. "So some clients are even pushing us to be more adventurous."
In the MIX for Philbrook
See nearly 20 of Tulsa top
mixologists in action Saturday at
the MIX Patron Party.
The patron party will take place
on the roof of the One Technology
Center Parking Garage in downtown
Tulsa, which is across from
City Hall and overlooks the home
of Philbrook’s new satellite facility
in the Brady District, Philbrook
Downtown, said Jeff Martin.
Tickets to the event, which
starts at 7:30 p.m., cost $75,
and guests will vote on the best
The inaugural MIX party will
begin at 10 p.m. at the corner
of Archer Street and Cincinnati
Avenue. Tickets are $20.
Look for food from downtown
eateries and music from DJ
Skribble (MTV Spring Break,
etc.) and DJ Aero (worked with
Snoop Dogg, Beastie Boys, and
was in the band Methods of
Mayhem with Tommy Lee).
For more information, go to
Proceeds will support educational
programming and general
Original Print Headline: Mixology event test of bartenders' craft
Nicole Marshall Middleton 918-581-8459
Tony Collins of The Tavern and McNellie's shows off one of his drinks. Collins and his staff are working on "craft cocktails" that emphasize the creative aspects of bartending. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World
Tony Collins, head of the bar staff at The Tavern and McNellie's, pours a mixed drink last week. Collins will be competing for the title of Grand Mixer at a Philbrook fundraiser Saturday. MICHAEL WYKE / Tulsa World