Located in the Harbor East area of Baltimore, Ouzo Bay made a splash when it opened in 2012 with its authentic-meets-modern Greek menu and neon-laced Mediterranean interior. With expert bartender Liz Jankiewicz manning the bar program, Ouzo Bay's cocktail menu is just as impressive as its lamb shank and souvlaki. When Liz isn't whipping up innovative, delicious cocktails for Ouzo Bay's menu, she's going for the gold in national bartending competitions like Speed Rack Mid-Atlantic, Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience, and Glenfiddich Most Experimental Serve. We recently spoke with Liz about her bartending style, her favorite drinks, and what it takes to run a bar program in bustling Baltimore. She also shares her recipes for two beautiful Belle Isle cocktails.
TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF…
I'm Liz Jankiewicz, Bar Manager at Ouzo Bay in Baltimore. I just recently took over the bar program at Ouzo Bay in November 2017, but I’ve been behind the stick for 9 years.
What first got you behind the bar?
The summer before I moved to Baton Rouge for grad school at the ripe age of 21, I wanted to learn how to bartend so I could support myself.
Any pro-tips for someone starting out behind the bar?
I would suggest seeking out the most experienced and charismatic bartender. Watch, listen, and learn. Respect your bartender elders.
Favorite drink made by someone else?
Sarah Anderson at The Bygone makes a killer Ramos Gin Fizz.
Favorite drink that you make?
My favorite drink to make is impromptu customized drinks based on a guest’s preferences. Most are riffs, or improved cocktails. I think it’s a special experience for the guest. I can usually introduce a new ingredient or style they can enjoy but may not be used to.
Favorite thing to drink when no one’s looking?
I know it defies the art of high brow cocktails, but I am a sucker for Jägerbombs.
If you had to pick one cocktail ingredient to use for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
Ruby Red Grapefruit. Whether she’s an expressed rind, a shrub, a juice, or bitters, Ruby Red is my favorite lady.
What’s your favorite part about working at your bar?
The Ouzo Bay ambiance is definitely my favorite. From service to lighting to the open air, it’s an oasis.
Where do you like to stop in for a drink?
My recent watering hole favorite would have to be the Regal Beagle. If you want great cocktails, impressive food neighborhood camaraderie, and the feeling of partying in your parent’s basement from the late 80s, you should ‘come and knock on their door.’
What’s your take on today’s cocktail culture in your city?
I’m continually impressed by the talent that is emerging in Baltimore. New programs and concepts are popping up all over the city. From locally-sourced ingredients to speakeasy exclusivity, Baltimore’s cocktail culture is diverse as the city is itself.
Give us your golden rule when it comes to bar etiquette.
My golden rule for bartenders is ‘This is the hospitality industry. Be hospitable.’
What’s your favorite way to drink Belle Isle?
Belle Isle Cold Brew Coffee and almond milk on the rocks.
Roots of My Homeland
1 ½ oz. Belle Isle Honey Habanero
½ oz. carrot juice
½ oz. lemon juice
¾ oz. ginger honey
3 dashes orange bitters
Orange wheel garnish
Add first five ingredients to shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into collins glass and add ice. Top with soda and garnish with an orange wheel.
Recipes by Liz Jankiewicz.
All photos by Joey Wharton.
NEED MORE COCKTAIL INSPO?
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.