She’s got an insatiable love of pickling, experience behind the stick at bars in South Beach, and card-carrying membership in a ladies’ cocktail preservation society. We check in with Urbana’s Assistant General Manager and new mix-mistress Amy Troutmiller and check out some of her current creative concoctions.
By Kelly A. Magyarics
Washington Life: What did you do before landing at Urbana?
Amy Troutmiller: I grew up and went to college in Indiana. After bartending for years and traveling whenever possible, I made the move to Miami Beach in early 2004. Being on the opening team for a South Beach nightclub and working for Bacardi and Morgan’s Hotel Group, I realized I wanted to turn my job into a career. In June of 2007 I relocated to Chicago and began working for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants as a manager at 312 Chicago. While in Chicago, I was a founding member of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails) and became even more committed to artisanal and craft cocktails.
WL: What brought you to DC?
AT: In order to grow with the company I wanted to open myself up to transferring. When the opportunity for the assistant general manager position at Urbana came along, it was a perfect fit. Urbana has a great balance between a fabulous dining experience and a chic lounge. I am always up for a new adventure, new city and new people.
WL: What is your philosophy towards cocktails? What’s your goal with the drinks program at Urbana?
AT: Simple recipes that result in complex flavors. I like to add interesting components and creative garnishes while maintaining the integrity of the product. In the future, I would love for Urbana to be known as much for cocktails as it is for wine. I want to be a destination for anyone who wants an interesting bottle of wine, a perfectly made Aviation, a glass of their favorite bourbon or an original cocktail they keep coming back for. We will have something for everyone and we’ll serve it with care and hospitality.
WL: What’s your current favorite drink on the menu and why?
AT: The Bittersweet Symphony ($11) [with Jose Cuervo, agave nectar, Lillet, orange juice, and house made Caribbean bitters] is great. Tequila is nice this time of year and the homemade bitters really make the drink. I also love the Test Pilot ($13) [with Flor de Cana 7 year Rum, Myers Dark Rum, Velvet Falernum, Cointreau, Pernod, Angostura and lime.] It is an intricate cocktail created in 1941 by Don the Beachcomber. It’s all about perfect proportion and I’ve never seen it on a menu before.
WL: What new things are you planning for the summer menu?
AT: I have a fun bourbon cocktail in the works called Kentucky Picnic that has a sweet corn component. You’ll see other seasonal ingredients and there will be new house-made bitters. I am also working on some refreshing warm weather cocktails that incorporate ice wine and white port. Expect to see some Mezcal as well.
WL: What’s all this about pickles? How did pickling influence a current drink on the list?
AT: I have a two jar a week pickle habit. Three years ago I started pickling and canning, with my friend Danielle, and labeling them “We’re Kind of a Big Dill”. I currently have a cocktail called The Dirty Bird that uses pickled quail eggs as a garnish. They are about the size and shape of an olive, and pickled eggs are an old tavern staple. [I tasted The Dirty Bird during my last visit to Urbana. The inclusion of beet juice and horseradish make it so savory. I think it would make for a great Bloody Mary alternative for brunch, too. –Kelly Magyarics]
WL: Where else do you like to go for a great drink in DC?
WL: What’s your favorite spirit and/or cocktail, and why?
AT: I love Amaro and Gin. Both can vary significantly depending on the herbs and botanicals used, therefore more fun to explore. Amaro I drink neat, Gin I drink up. I also have a strange love affair with Wild Turkey American Honey.
Courtesy of Amy Troutmiller, Urbana, Washington, DC, and sold there for $12
2 oz. Earl Grey-infused whiskey (**See note)
¼ oz. St. Germain
2 dashes each of Angostura and orange bitters
2 orange slices
Place orange slices in bottom of a rocks glass. Add other ingredients and muddle. Add ice and serve.
**To make the Earl Grey-infused whiskey, take a 750 ml bottle of whiskey (Troutmiller uses (ri)1 and add three Earl Grey teabags. Steep for three hours. Remove tea bags so whiskey doesn’t become bitter.