Wine & Spirits: Q&A With Urbana Mixtress Amy Troutmiller

by WL Author

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

The bar at Urbana
The bar at Urbana

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?

AT: I like Veritas and Proof for a glass of wine.  The Passenger for a well-made cocktail and Nanny O’Brien’s for a Guinness.

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.

Amy Troutmiller's Nightcap cocktail at Urbana.
Amy Troutmiller’s Nightcap cocktail at Urbana.

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.

Kelly Magyarics is a wine and spirits writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, DC area. She can be reached through her website,, or at

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