Bartender Buddha: Meet Those Shaking Up The Connecticut Cocktail Scene
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Michelle Stewart : 50 Elm
Bartender Michelle Stewart (pictured at right, with Milagros Bustamante) describes Hartford's new 50 Elm restaurant and lounge as a "spirit house...with a family atmosphere." The cocktail menu complements its food, both drawing from South American and Caribbean influences.
Stewart, who has worked in Connecticut and New York, returned to the restaurant industry when 50 Elm opened in July, quickly educating herself on the exotic spirits new to her. "There was a learning curve for me as a mixologist and bartender," she said. "It's fun and exciting - I can bring that knowledge to people that don't know it. That's the whole concept of this place. A spirit house, bringing different people together."
50 Elm's "libations" list is heavy on rum-based drinks, with a Caribbean Nationale with Plantation, orange juice and fresh basil; a "Tropical Storm 50," a take on a Dark and Stormy; and the signature El Do'Jito, with plenty of muddled fresh mint. Other drinks make use of white and gold Brazilian cachaca, and Peruvian pisco.
"Once we explain cachaca, people will ask for a shot," Stewart said. "It has more of a bite like tequila, but yet it's in the rum family. We also try to encourage [tastings] of our rums. If someone says they like Captain [Morgan,] we'll ask 'Have you tried Ron Abuelo?'"
50 Elm Café & Spirits, 50 Elm Street, Hartford, is open daily from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Information: 860-206-3322 and 50elmhartford.com.
--Leeanne Griffin, email@example.com