Lauren Spain, Bar Manager at Tazza Kitchen Short Pump, is a rising star on the cocktail scene. We paid the West End a visit to sip her delicious signature cocktail, Warm Fuzzies, and gain some insight into her day-to-day behind the bar.
How long have you been bartending, and where?
I've been bartending for seven years now! I started at Outback Steakhouse blending Wallaby Darns and Down Under Ritas! I've been at Tazza Kitchen for almost 2.5 years.
What is your favorite part about being a bartender?
I feel I can truly be myself behind the bar. There's no script. I get to host a really cool party with some of my favorite people, and meet lots of new friends.
Do you have one particularly memorable moment?
I can't think of one particular moment. There are those nights when you get your ass kicked. All night. So hard. And you weren't expecting it. When it's happening you don't know how you're going to survive. You need to make 15 cocktails, put in five dinner orders, talk to the dude who keeps staring you down in the third row of guests, split three tabs, DO ALL THE DISHES, and smile. Can't forget to smile. You make it out alive, look over at Adam Pitts, and ask "What the fuck just happened?!"
Which cocktail do you hope people ask for?
Soda City! That's a drink I'm just really proud of. It always feels good to see one of my drinks pop out of the printer, but it's really exciting when it's a Soda City. Ginger, agave, lime, Averna, Espolon Reposado, cracked ice.
How do you come up with names for your cocktails?
It's so hard! Ingredients, flavors - I try to name according to those. Warm Fuzzies has Belle Isle Honey Habanero and Fresno peppers, and I'd like to think the drink gives you the warm fuzzies!
How would you describe the bar at Tazza Kitchen?
I really love our bar program. It's about knowing our clientele and being able to give them what they want, but pushing them out of their box too. We are in the suburbs, so yes, our top selling drinks are old fashioneds and margaritas. But you better believe they are kick ass. And when they're feeling a little more adventurous, we've got you!
Do you have a pro-tip for new or home bartenders?
Fresh, high quality ingredients make all the difference! Squeeze the juice! Spend the extra money on the bottle of Cointreau! I promise you aren't going to use it all in one night - and if you do it must've been one awesome party.
What’s the question you get most often while bartending?
"What's in the bag?!" - every time we beat the ice in the Lewis bag.
What’s the best food + cocktail pairing at Tazza?
Warm Fuzzies and fish tacos!
Cocktail: Warm Fuzzies
- 1/2 oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
- 3/4 oz. honey syrup
- 1/2 oz. lemon juice
- 1 1/2 oz. Flor de cana 5 year rum
- 2 slices Fresno pepper
Shaken and served up. Expressed grapefruit garnish.
Recipe courtesy of Lauren Spain
Photography by Alexander Kreher.