Nestled on the outskirts of tourist-heavy Annapolis, Maryland, Lures Bar & Grille has been serving up some of the best seafood and craft beer in the area for more than a decade. While the 27-draft tap list of only craft beer draw a lot of attention, this small-but-mighty bar staff can also whip up a mean cocktail. Focusing on fresh ingredients, bartender Haley Jeffries and the Lures team create drinks that perfectly compliment good times, great food, and patio weather. We recently chatted with Haley about getting her start in the industry, her favorite spots to stop for a drink in Annapolis, and her “Golden Rule” for bartenders. Haley also shared her recipe for the aptly named Honey Habanero cocktail, Instagrammable.
First thing’s first, who are you?
My name is Haley Jeffries, and I’ve been at Lures Bar & Grille for about a year now.
How long have you been bartending?
I’ve been bartending for way too long–probably six or seven years! This has been my favorite bartending job, for sure. I just got my Associate’s Degree last month, so I’ve been doing that on the side, and next month I’m taking my exam to get my TEFL [Teaching English as a Foreign Language] certificate.
So you’ve been busy! What first got you behind the bar?
My parents own a smoothie shop [Robeks] in the Harbor Center in Annapolis, so I’ve worked in the restaurant industry since I was about 13. After that, I jumped around to multiple serving positions. When I started serving at Lures, I kind of got lucky because they needed a bartender. At first when they asked if I was interested, I said “no,” because this place is pretty intimidating and the drinks are kind of complex. I was hesitant, but they threw me in and gave me a really extensive training.
Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?
The biggest thing that I’ve learned is to not freak out. Especially when you get busy or “weeded,” it’s so easy to say “Oh my God, I can’t make this drink,” but you can’t make a good drink if you’re freaking out. Just stay calm and have fun. People are at a bar to have a good time, so just relax and have a good time with them.
Do you have a favorite drink?
I really like a jalapeño Moscow Mule, or any kind of Moscow Mule. Ginger Beer is my favorite thing. We also make this drink here in the summer that’s cucumber vodka, lemonade, and a little bit of agave. Or anything margarita. Clearly, I just like alcohol.
You’re talking to the right people! If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Agave is my favorite sweetener, especially in the summer. Tequila is my go-to liquor-wise. You can make anything good with tequila.
What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?
More than any place I’ve ever worked, they give people room to grow. They’re very much like, “Hey, you have an idea? Throw it at us, we’ll see if we like it.” Sometimes there’s constructive criticism, and sometimes they’ll just put it on the menu the next day. Management here is really phenomenal. They’re super helpful as far giving advice and encouraging growth, which encourages you to try to be better and work harder.
What makes your bar unique?
The food is great, first of all. We have almost 30 beers on tap, and we don’t serve any of your typical domestics. But also, I think I might be the person who’s worked here the shortest amount of time, and you don’t see that in a lot of restaurants. There’s usually a lot of turnaround in restaurants, but there are servers who have been here for 10 or 12 years.
Where do you like to stop in for a drink?
I really like Vida in downtown Annapolis. I love tacos, Mexican food, and tequila, obviously. Paladar has great margaritas. As far as “divey” bars, I really enjoy West End. They’re open until like 1 or 2 a.m., so it’s easy for us to go there after work.
What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in Annapolis?
Downtown Annapolis is definitely the place for it. People come here to visit, to explore, and to be by the water and be tranquil. I think if you can sit by the water and drink a cocktail that looks pretty, you’ll probably drink more than one of them if you have a good view.
Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.
For bartenders, my Golden Rule is to greet your customers right away. Now that I’ve done this for so long, I’m kind of picky about the service I get when I go out, and I like to be greeted within a minute. I think it’s important, because you know your experience is going to be good.
What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?
I like spicy in general, so I love the Honey Habanero. This new cocktail [Instagrammable] has definitely been my favorite creation so far.
4-5 fresh strawberries
juice from 1 fresh lime
½ oz. agave
top with sparkling wine
garnish with a lime wheel and edible pineapple flower garnish ( via Dress the Drink)
Blend or muddle lime, strawberry, and agave and add mixture to shaker tin. Add Belle Isle Honey Habanero and ice, then shake vigorously. Pour (don't strain) into a Collins glass and top with sparkling wine. Garnish with a lime wheel and edible pineapple flower.
Recipe by Haley Jeffries, courtesy of Lures Bar & Grille.
Photos by Justin Tsucalas.
Belle Isle Moonshine is a premium, handcrafted spirit proudly hailing from Richmond, Virginia.
We take the name Belle Isle from a small, 540-acre island located smack dab in the middle of the James River where Civil War soldiers used surplus corn rations to make moonshine in copper kettles.
Belle Isle Moonshine is distilled from 100% organic corn, grown by three family farms and responsibly sourced. Once triple-distilled, we charcoal filter Belle Isle four times over. Then, we cut it with purified water right from the James River. Our infusions are made with 100% real ingredients, never artificial flavors or color. We use real grapefruits sourced from Texas and California, local honey from the Shenandoah Valley, organic habaneros grown an hour away, and freshly roasted coffee beans from the most socially conscious roastery in Richmond, Blanchard's Coffee Roasting Co.
From there, each bottle of Belle Isle Moonshine is filled, corked, labeled, and packed by hand by our Production team, who check each bottle and batch for quality assurance. Since Belle Isle is made in small batches, you can find the batch number handwritten in the bottom right corner of each bottle.
Distilled from good times and 100% organic corn.