Being behind the bar sometimes feels like a love-hate relationship. You get to wake up much later than your 9-5 friends, but your work day ends closer 3am. You're able to help people unwind from stress, but have seen them take it too far. Like any good relationship, bartending takes balance.
If anybody has perfected that balance, it has to be Alex and Lily. Not only are they able to run the bar at Green Pig Bistro with expertise and creativity, they have also learned to balance personal and professional. It's not often you see a husband and wife behind the bar together, so we stopped by to learn more about how they mix work & home just as successfully as they mix cocktails.
Tell us about yourselves.
Alex: I'm Alex and I am the Bar Manager at Green Pig Bistro in Arlington, Virginia.
Lily: I'm Lily, and I am a bartender at Green Pig Bistro. We've both been here at GPB for a little over a year now.
Alex: And we happen to be married as well.
When did you first get behind the bar?
Alex: About 4 years ago, I started at a sushi place (SEI) in D.C. The training there was good, and being friends with the bartenders, they were kind enough to get me started. I was making everything from rum & Cokes to egg white lavender margaritas.
Lily: I started out young working at a Vietnamese sports bar, mainly pouring beer and wine.
What drinks do you like to make?
Alex: I enjoy to make a little bit of everything. New experiences matter to me. I'm constantly changing the cocktail menu because of seasonality, while trying to bring flavor from all around the world to taste new and different combinations. Personal guilty pleasure though, definitely a Cinnamon Pineapple Daiquiri.
Lily: These days, I finesse classic cocktails. I am an advocate for mojitos done right and anything tiki style that isn't overwhelmingly sweet.
What’s it like being both coworkers and spouses?
Alex: It feels natural for us being both coworkers and spouses, because we make a pretty good team behind the bar.
Lily: A big pro is that we can rely on each other. A con is that its hard for us to plan a long vacation, because we both work full time in the same place. Overall, we love each other's company and have a really good time working together.
Tell us about your bar.
Alex: Green Pig Bistro is a very warm and welcoming restaurant with an awesome bar. The cocktail program is inspired by the seasons, an appreciation of classic cocktails, as well as bartender creativity. Giving bartenders a chance to place an original cocktail on the menu also helps with its diversity.
Lily: The vibe is local and cozy. I like to think I'm the inspiration for the cocktail program.
What’s the neighborhood like?
Alex: Green Pig is located in Clarendon in Arlington, Virginia. It is a few blocks from the busy main street inhabited by chain food spots and various retail, which makes it a hidden gem amongst the neighborhood in Arlington.
Lily: The people that stop into our bar are folks who live really close by and people who know where to go to get a good cocktail in the area.
Favorite part about your bar?
Alex: The freedom of creativity. Working with fresh and different ingredients keeps me inspired. And not only do we have great drinks, but we have great food too.
Lily: I love the quality of our cocktails. We take pride in using house-made ingredients in our cocktails, as well as juicing our citrus by hand daily.
Favorite cocktail + menu item pairing?
Alex: Fried Chicken Biscuits with the Smoking Old Fashioned.
Lily: This season, I like the Kiss of Mint on our menu. It's refreshing and not too sweet. It's a muddled mint margarita with fresh grapefruit juice and hopped bitters. I would pair that with our albacore sesame dish.
What inspires your cocktails?
Alex: I am inspired by my surroundings and local produce as well as trying to recreate flavors that I loved as a child, showing just a little bit of where I come from. I am also in love with a food documentary series on Netflix called Chef's Table.
Lily: I am inspired by whatever flavors I am interested in during the season. I tend to create cocktails that I would enjoy drinking.
What are your Belle Isle cocktails?
Alex: The inspiration for this cocktail came from a wine that kind of smelled like grapefruit and green bell pepper. I was trying to make the flavors work, but green bell pepper can be a little overwhelming. While randomly speaking with a fellow bartender Ben, he says, "Why don't you try red bell pepper instead?" Then it all came together. I like using ingredients that people don't normally see in drinks.
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange peel for zest.
Recipe by Alex of Green Pig Bistro
- 2 oz. Red Bell Pepper-infused Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
- 1/2 oz. lemon juice
- 1/2 oz, honey simple
- 2 dashes lemon bitters
How to make Red Bell Pepper Infusion: Blend three large red bell peppers with a bottle of Belle Isle Premium Moonshine. Let sit for 24 hours, then strain through a cheesecloth.
Lily: I am part Vietnamese, so my cocktail is inspired by traditional Vietnamese iced coffee. Creating this cocktail was a fun and nostalgic experience. It's definitely something I would order if I was day-drinking.
- 1 oz. Belle Isle Premium Moonshine
- 1 oz. Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee
- 3 oz. cold brew coffee
- 1/2 oz. condensed milk
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a Collins glass filled with ice.
Recipe by Lily of Green Pig Bistro
Lily's notes: Our cold brew coffee recipe is 1 part local Swing's coffee grounds to 6 parts cold filtered water. The mixture is refrigerated overnight and strained the next day. After straining, I usually premix the condensed milk into the cold brew to allow the ingredients to blend better. If I am batching this cold-brew, I may use up to 4 cans of condensed milk.
Photos by Kate Magee