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Behind the Bar: Summer cocktails with The Mark Dine & Tap

Summer is here – and what better way to quench your thirst than with a cold cocktail? To celebrate three months of outdoor happy hours, Flavor 574 will sit down with bartenders from across Michiana for a series on the secrets to the best drinks for patio season. To start, we raise a glass with The Mark Dine & Tap at Eddy Street Commons in South Bend.

Matt Forest – also known as Frosty – has been a bartender at The Mark Dine & Tap, 1234 N. Eddy St., South Bend, for three years. As one of three bartenders in charge of the bar’s original cocktail list that changes seasonally, Forest knows what to mix up for warmer days.

“We’ll sit around and throw out ideas for summer drinks,” Forest said. “We search the web and do our own varieties. You get to drink while you do it, so bar meetings are fun meetings.”

Featured summer cocktail:
East of Georgia

This peach drink is a summer favorite the Mark created a few years ago, with ginger liqueur, a splash of peach schnapps and iced tea. Nothing fancy, just mixed.

“It goes down easy,” Forest said. “It’s an incredible outdoor patio drink.”

The secret to a perfect cocktail: Use high quality ingredients and learn how to match up ingredients. There are a wide variety of gins with different profiles and each gin goes better with specific ingredients.

For summer in a glass: Don’t use rye or bourbon, with occasional exceptions. Lighter liquors like gin or champagne are fantastic for summer. You want fruity and fizzy. The Mark has elderflower liqueur that bartenders mix with grapefruit juice and champagne, or orange juice, ginger ale and bourbon.

The best perk of being a bartender: You meet a lot of interesting people who have really cool stories, people who speak 10 languages or people working on the cure for cancer.

Most bizarre snippet overheard at cocktail hour: Two women talking about how one was cheating on her husband.

What you wish you didn’t have to deal with: Football weekends can be 18-hour days.

What most people don’t know about bartending: You have to be able to multitask. “We often just yell out drinks across the room and it’s an intense amount of information to hold in your head all at once. We memorize all the drinks but we also have a cheat sheet – just in case.”

The Mark Dine & Tap is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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