Crystal Bertholic is a mixologist with infinite pizazz. When she's not performing and producing burlesque shows with the Vaude Villains, Bertholic is bar manager at Ruins in Spokane, where her improvisational cocktails are a staple of the establishment's inventive style. Prior to that, Bertholic helped open Bon Bon, and had stints at both Chaps and the Viking Bar & Grill. We asked her about the trends she's seeing in our local cocktail culture:
1. Cocktail Revival
"I think lots of restaurants are paying more attention to their cocktail menus, changing them seasonally and using ingredients from the kitchen, not just ingredients from the bar," says Bertholic. "We live in an area with such an abundance of quality fruits, herbs and vegetables, that I'm definitely seeing infusions of all kinds at all sorts of establishments."
2. Thrill Seekers Welcome
Bertholic says that although some people are very specific about their beverage preferences, others have embraced letting the bartender choose; the mixologist's version of chef's choice. "They trust that we know the ingredients we're working with, and are completely receptive to us just playing jazz," says Bertholic. The most unusual ingredient she's used in a cocktail, says Bertholic, is mushrooms. "It gave the drink a really nice, earthy flavor, and our guests were adventurous about trying it too!"
3. Whiskey and Gin Rule
Although vodka is still the go-to spirit for its versatility, says Bertholic, she's seeing more people try both whiskey and gin, including many made in the Pacific Northwest. "Gin is our most popular clear spirit at Ruins," says Bertholic, "but Spokanites also love their whiskey."