Bartender Buddha: Meet Those Shaking Up The Connecticut Cocktail Scene
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Khalid Williams, Barley Vine
Williams grew up in Connecticut and after a quick attempt at college in West Virginia realized it wasn't for him. He soon had a kid on the way and he got a job at Macaroni Grill, where he quickly became passionate about the many wines they had to offer. A move to Carmen Anthony in New Haven got him hooked on classic cocktails and working at Uncorked (now Vinted) in West Hartford took his knowledge to a whole new level. Now in the biz for 12 years, his name is at the tip of people's tongues when it comes to the craft cocktail scene in Connecticut.
Q: So you do a lot of cocktail competitions?
A: The Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender is a [yearly] competition. The winner gets featured in GQ Magazine. I was a finalist for that. It's great because I get to do the most out-there, crazy, foolish recipe I want that day without worrying about cost. Even when I don't place, I take a lot away from what I see. Last year, I won the Onyx Moonshine infusion Competition at their Great Gatsby party using local quince and sour pear. I also take part in the Faith Middleton Food Schmooze Martini Competition: We won best in craft. Q: You sound like a scientist when you talk about your cocktails. Do you have a formula?
A: The three "L"s: Is it local, is it legendary, is it luminary?
Q: Do you have one ingredient that you love to work with if you had to pick?
A: I'll give you two answers. Bartenders can never pick one thing. Local is the first thing. Also acid. You can get it from lemon, lime and shrubs, which is a really cool new concept.
Q: What is one drink people can make at home that would be a hit?
A: One drink I love to make a home is the Paloma. Everyone knows about the margarita; this is also tequila based. It's basically a tequila lime grapefruit soda. Get a couple grapefruits, skin them and make simple syrup with them with some sugar. Throw it into seltzer water, lime and tequila.
Watch him shake up a fall cocktail