12 Feb 2016 Liquid Riot interview: Brieshan Kenoyer
Interview with Brieshan Kenoyer, Bar Manager at Liquid Riot.
What’s your background in bartending?
I started bartending probably 8 years ago and it was at a really high volume arts venue in Portland, Oregon. I was there for 5 years, and then moved to Pittsburgh and worked at a craft cocktail bar there.
How’d you end up in Portland?
My boyfriend is from Manchester, New Hampshire. We wanted to be closer to his family, and we loved Portland.
Do you have an all time favorite drink?
It changes a lot, I normally like really robust cocktails like Manhattans, Negronis. I base a lot of my drinks off of a very liquor-forward profile. I have a favorite cocktail in every different kind of category, but I often just go for whiskey.
What’s one Liquid Riot spirit that you’re really excited about right now?
We just made our own fernet, which is really, really cool. It’s the only one that’s being made in Maine. And our aged spirits are really awesome for how young they are. Our bourbon and our single malt and our rye are incredible at 18 months, so I’m really excited about what they’re going to be 5 years from now.
What’s a great cocktail to make using that?
Our Rye makes a killer Manhattan. It’s nice and hot and it works really well with this vermut negre that we have. I’ve also been doing a lot of cocktails with the fernet. One of those is the Michaud Fizz.
What’s your solution when someone visiting Liquid Riot says they don’t like cocktails?
If someone says they don’t like cocktails, I know exactly what to make for them. It’s always St. Germaine, always grapefruit. I ask if they’re comfortable with brown spirits, and see what I can sneak in. If they just like vodka, I’ll sneak a little gin in there and maybe some bourbon, they usually end up loving it. A lot of people have bad experiences with certain liquors when they were younger, but as adults people can really appreciate them for what they’re meant for, not how they first experienced them. It’s a great opportunity to introduce them to spirits we make in-house, which are a whole different thing from a lot of the liquors that are common with younger drinkers.
What little used cocktail ingredient is your favorite to include?
I really like robust rums, our Dow’s Demise is a great example. Monkey 47 gin is amazing but I hate to mix with it because it’s just so good.
What’s the process of creating a new cocktail like?
It’s a lot like food. Measurements have to be much more precise. When I first make a cocktail I’ll make it warm and taste it that way first, the flavors show more easily when it’s warm. I like to challenge myself to think about different flavors. Like today I’m thinking about molasses, so I’ll start with molasses, drink it, think about it, put one more thing in, drink it, think about it… I really want it to have a long progression of different flavors. I want to be tasting different things after that first sip, taste different things at different stages. I’m not happy with a cocktail really until I get to that point.
What’s the cocktail creation you’re most proud of?
One of the first cocktails when I started making my own syrups, and I started putting a bunch of random things together. Mezcal and absinthe, I made a falernum and a spicy pineapple syrup so it was kind of a tiki based drink that really had a lot going on that people don’t always like, but everyone really liked that cocktail so it was kind of a personal challenge that ended up working out really well.
Your prediction for the next big thing in the beverage industry?
Right now it’s definitely tiki drinks. But with people making more and more in house, I think that will be the new thing. At Liquid Riot we now have the ability to make a cocktail with all ingredients that we’ve made in this building, and we’re going to continue to up those offerings.
The Dow’s Riot is one we feature that includes all ingredients that have been produced in-house.
What are some challenges you face as a bartender?
I really want to try to get more spirits to Maine. That’s a challenge that a lot of bartenders in the craft world are dealing with – the lack of spirits that you want to have that aren’t available here. But it pushes you to be more creative. Like, how can I get this rum to taste like Smith & Cross, or how can I get this vermouth to taste like this other vermouth that I really like. There are people here that are making their own chartreuse, which I’ve never seen before. People are making things on their own if they can’t get them.