Bartender’s Choice

Story Jason Browne | Photographs Luisa Porter

We’re living in a bittersweet era.

Not in the Dickensian “best of times/worst of times” sense. The literal combination of bitter and sweet.

A perfect example of this can be found at Central Station Grill in Starkville, where a drink called Here’s Lookin’ at You answers the question “Am I in the mood for liquor or wine?” with a simple “Both, but with some agave nectar, lemon and ginger beer to really mix things up.”

Bartender Sara Belue explains the strange combination as she shakes up a serving of the drink conceived by general manager Terry Long.

“It’s pretty surprising to people to mix scotch and white wine, but the tastes compliment each other very well. Then the agave adds something sweet, and the lemon and ginger beer add their elements,” she says. “It’s a little bit of everything. It appeals to people who like sweet drinks, but not too sweet.”

Dewar’s Scotch is Long’s drink of choice, so that’s where he decided to start. Several experiments down the road, he arrived at a flavor combination that’s sweet when it hits the tip of your tongue, teeters between tart and savory on your soft palate and finishes with a faint saltiness as you swallow. It’s a flip-flop flavor experience catered to veteran drinkers looking for something different. If it doesn’t whet your own personal whistle, the Grill has a long list of original cocktails on its menu to choose from, all conceived in-house.

Belue, of Tishomingo, has only been bartending for about a year and doesn’t have a signature drink of her own design yet. But she’s paying attention to the evolving zeitgeist of getting loaded, looking for trends and patterns in customers’ taste preferences to mix and match with her personal preference for spiced rum.

But while she’s watching them, Here’s Lookin’ at You.


HERE’S LOOKIN’ AT YOU

2 ounces Dewar’s
1 ounce Starborough sauvignon blanc
¾ ounce agave amber
Juice from half a lemon
Ginger beer, to taste

• Combine first four ingredients in cocktail shaker and mix well.
• Pour into glass and top off with ginger beer. Garnish with lemon twist.