KaTrell Thomas has spent more than a decade working in Detroit bars and restaurants. For nine years he worked at Slow's, then two at Sugar House, and now he's tending bar at Wright & Co., a restaurant that's received plenty of accolades since its opening five months ago.
While Sugar House and Wright & Co. are operated under the same owner, Dave Kwiatkowski, Thomas says Wright & Co.'s drink menu is much simpler. And while he helped open Wright & Co., it was a process just to get behind the bar at Sugar House.
"We spent a lot of time learning," he says of his days at Sugar House. He says everyone was required to pass a "mixology 101" course or two under Kwiatkowski before making drinks that would be served to customers.
It's clear all the study has only made Thomas more passionate about his job.
"I don't sell drinks to make money," says Thomas. "I sell drinks to make people happy."
He describes Wright & Co.'s cocktail menu as eclectic and that it changes with the food, which often reflects the season. Right now, guests can expect warm drinks like a mulled wine cocktail or sweet autumnal flavors like in their rosemary pine sour.
When we stopped in last week, Thomas mixed us up a Queen's Park Swizzle, which he described as an alternative to a mojito or a caipirinha. It's complicated to make, but the payoff is extra sweet (and boozy). While some bartenders loathe the thought of all the mixing and muddling that goes into such a drink, Thomas revels in it. "They call me the 'Queen's Park Swizzle maker,'" he says.
Queen's Park Swizzle
2 ounces rum
6 mint leaves
half ounce lime juice
Quarter ounce trifecta bitters (Orange, Peychauds, and Angostura)
Half ounce simple syrup
Build in a Collins glass. Muddle mint leaves and lime, then add rum. Fill glass with ice and slowly swizzle. Top with more ice and add bitters. Garnish with mint sprig.
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