Artist Profile – Master Mixologist
Story by Megan Whitehead | Oct 27, 2016
Kevin Thompson mixes a mean cocktail and provides recipes.
Kevin Thompson is the one to thank for the amazing cocktails found at The Grand Cafe. He began his career with Outback Steak House in St. Louis, where he was able to travel and learn about the basics of the restaurant industry. After working at upscale establishments in California, New York, Arizona, and Missouri, Thompson decided that he wanted to learn more about the art of mixology. He was taught how to pair cocktails and wines, with the understanding that each ingredient and flavor should complement the taste of the food it was intended for, by Memphis chef Kelly English.
This led to Thompson’s move to bartending. Working at The Grand Cafe, he is able to continually learn and grow.
“The fit between the Grand Café and me was seamless,” says Thompson. “I knew I liked the owner, Ben Huhman, the first time I met him. We talked about the business, and he was already doing a fantastic job, but the bar was an area that had this amazing untapped potential. I remember one of my first nights working and looking for ingredients to make a cocktail, and I thought about the unlimited potential of ideas, recipes, and experience I could bring. Ben was very open with letting me expand the bar and what it could offer. We have worked very hard in expanding our own house-infused alcohols.” The bar started with four vodkas, but has expanded to 15 different options. Thompson also continued beyond vodka to also include bourbon, gin, rum, and the popular jalapeno-infused tequila.
With trial, error, and experimentation, Thompson continues to push the envelope with perfectly paired new and interesting concoctions.
“The bar program has taken a lot of hard work and wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing amount of support and encouragement from our guests,” says Thompson. “Kudos must also go to Ben Huhman, who took a huge chance on my abilities and what I have to offer. I wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of Ben and the rest of the staff at The Grand Cafe.”
Start by coating a chilled martini glass with Absente.
Muddle a sugar cube with the Peychaud’s Bitters and whiskey barrel aged bitters in a shaker and add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey. After muddled, add ice, shake, pour into glass, and add a lemon twist.
Pumpkin Espresso Martini
Equal parts Midnight Espresso Liqueur and Pumpkin Pie Cream Liqueur, plus a little pumpkin puree, together in a shaker with ice. Shake vigorously to mix well and pour into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a little cinnamon.
Barrel Aged Blackberry Manhattan
Four weeks prior to serving, I combined the Four Roses bourbon, Crème de Mure blackberry liqueur, and lemon bitters together in our oak barrel. This allows for the ingredients to blend together and pull the flavors from the oak barrel. Chill and garnish with a blackberry and lemon twist.