Maria Hines keeps plenty busy running her two restaurants, but tonight you’ll find the chef behind the bar at her newest spot, Ballard’s Golden Beetle. Hines will be tending bar during happy hour, from 5 to 6pm, most Tuesdays in November and December.
Hines says she’s been intrigued watching bar manager Andy McClellan and his cohorts "balancing out flavors and using their palates and just being creative." She’s been training with McClellan and even experimenting with her own tinctures and infused spirits.
The chef-turned-bartender even created a drink special for the night: a cucumber-infused gin drink made with Cynar and a sumac tincture of her own creation. A bourbon fan herself, Hines has another special in the works involving a Manhattan shaken with a bit of sweetened, condensed milk. The drink is served alongside a rocks glass filled with fried, puffed hominy, tossed with cinnamon and sugar. She describes her concoction as a play on the ingredients, including corn, that go into making the spirit.
Look for her every Tuesday for the rest of the year, except November 8 and 29. McClellan has rolled out a new cocktail menu for the winter months as well.
Hines, for the record, is circumspect about her foray into cocktail crafting.
"Let’s be realistic here," she says. "It’s happy hour time. It’s not like I’ll be here during the rush, taking the whole restaurant down."