She answered a few questions, including what’s her favorite drink, and also made a toast to her close friend, Ria Pell, a powerhouse in Atlanta’s food and beverage world who died Nov. 24.

What’s the difference between a bartender and a mixologist?

Great question. Folks identify this question so differently. They are not too far apart honestly. A mixologist to me is one that understands the capabilities and logic behind spirits and allowing it to work. A bartender “tends” the bar. One that can showcase service, know how to balance a cocktail, keep it clean and respect the craft.

What’s your favorite cocktail?

My favorite cocktail is a Vieux Carre’. It’s a beautiful cocktail and a little boozy, too. It’s equal parts of cognac, vermouth, and rye. There is a kiss of Benedictine and a few drops of bitters. Sounds complicated, however these three brown spirits combined feel so comfortable inside. That’s what I want to feel when I drink a cocktail, comfortable. It’s a sassy, strong cocktail from the Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans and it volume and smoothness remind me of what I’d like to be when I grow up — strong and sassy!

Did you ever create a drink that was actually pretty horrible?

Plenty! Crafting a cocktail is trial and error. Just because you like it doesn’t mean everyone does. It can be a challenge. I’ve tried to make cocktails with just about everything. Note to self: avacados are horrible in a cocktail.

What’s the best cocktail you’ve created?
Ummm. I’ve done a cocktail I adore called Rosy Cheeks. It had fresh rosemary and fresh blueberries incorporated with a small amount of apricot liquor. I then doused it with Four Roses Single Barrel and stirred it cold. I chose to garnish it with a red rose petal. It was outstanding to me! It lived on my cocktail menu at One Flew South for four months and it won third place in the Four Roses cocktail competition.

Ria Pell would always make me blush and bring my spirits high. This cocktail allows a connection with sweets and classic single bourbon to flow smoothly, and that’s what me and my bestie had. Rosy Cheeks is all for Ria Pell.

Vieux Carre

1 oz Adet Cognac
1 oz Bulleit Rye
1 oz Dolin Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
2 dashes of Peychauds Bitters
1 Bar Spoon of Benedictine

Combine all in a mixer. Stir cold. (Please don’t shake). Pour into a rocks glass over fresh ice then add the bar spoon of Benedictine. Garnish with a lemon twist. It may seem difficult, however it’s worth every drop.

Rosy Cheeks — my Ria Pell dedication
2 oz Four Roses Single Barrel
6 blueberries
Pinch of rosemary needles
1/4 oz Marie Brizard apricot liquor
3 dashes of Peychauds Bitters

Combine blueberries, rosemary, and bitters to bottom of a mixer and muddle until you smell the rosemary essence. Combine Four Roses and ice. Stir cold. Double strain. Garnish with a rose petal and let the blushing begin.

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