Behind the Bar: Uptown Kitchen hosts Valentine's Day 2015 wine dinner

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By: Geoff Lesar
glesar@flavor574.com

Geoff Lesar / Flavor 574

It’s been over a year since Granger’s Uptown Kitchen served dinner. Now, it’s known primarily by early-rising patrons seeking Sunday brunch or “the hair of the dog.”

But for Valentine’s Day 2015, Uptown will serve a six-course Valentine’s Day dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Feb. 12. Tickets are $65 a person, plus tax and gratuity. 

Each course of the meal will be paired with a different wine, including a chocolate ganache torte buddied up with a 2013 Moscato. Wines are provided by Tiedemann Wines of Elkhart and Southern Wine and Spirits.

Located at 7225 Heritage Square Drive #208, Uptown Kitchen and its executive chef Brad Curtis intend to offer red velvet pancakes and a special caprese salad on Feb. 14 and 15, to accompany the already proven brunch menu. 

In addition to next week’s themed items, Curtis is planning to add a few new dishes to the menu, though they’re not available yet, including a vegetarian breakfast burrito and his take on biscuits and gravy.

Manager and bartender Jessica Quintanilla said the restaurant may go back to serving dinner some day, but it’s not a priority.

“Because we are so known for breakfast and lunch, we really wanted to focus all of our energy on perfecting that and making it better, before we start looking at dinner and spreading ourselves too thin,” she said.

Featured cocktail:
Love Bug
Created by Uptown bartender Katie Beauchamp-Sanchez

  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. Amaretto
  • Fill with cranberry
  • A splash of orange juice

We also chatted with Quintanilla to get her take on what goes on behind the bar.

What’s the secret to a perfect cocktail? A balance — you want to have a balance of the alcohol and mixers in there to appeal to a wide variety of people.

What’s the best perk of being a bartender? Getting to meet people, getting to play with drinks and have fun with that. They can kind of create something with you and you have that with them. So, if you’re telling me you want a specific drink, I can make whatever you want and give you something unique that you wouldn’t get anywhere else.

What’s the worst drink you’ve ever made? I’m not sure. There’s been some awful drinks. As a bartender, you think these flavors would go together sometimes and you make drinks and you’re like, “I was wrong.” That’s part of, again, experimenting, because you learn what doesn’t go together. 

What’s something most people don’t know about bartending? It’s fun, but it’s not just all fun and games. There’s a lot of cleaning, a lot of memorizing that goes into it. You have to know every recipe off the top of your head or you’re going to be really slow. If you just start rattling off drinks, I need to be able to know how to make all of those. It’s going to be lots of memorization. You can refer to a bar book, but how often do you really want to do that?

What’s one thing you wish you didn’t have to deal with as a bartender? The cleaning up afterwards. You get liquor everywhere and that stuff is sticky.

What’s the trick to bartending? Having a good personality, because even if you get behind, if you’re up front and positive with them, and have a good personality, they tend to be more patient with you if you are busy or the kitchen gets behind. If you come in with a bad attitude, you’re going to get them in that bad mood right away. So, that’s one thing I try do — always have a smile on your face. I try to train my bartenders (to) be friendly right from the beginning, so that if you make a drink that they hate, they’re going to be able to tell you, but be nice about it. Instead of complaining to you, they’ll ask you.

What’s in a name? Kind of a lot. I think that’s actually one of my hardest things whenever we’re creating drinks here. Because we are privately owned, we get to make up a name for this drink we might create. I feel like it’s going to steer people toward it or steer them away. So, some of the drinks, I know that as I’m making it, I’m specifically targeting certain people sometimes. I know that if I make a drink and it has a really girly name, I’ve just cut out the men that might order, but at the same time it might not appeal to them, so it’s the right thing to do. Other times, I might cut out 50 percent of my clientele by not being too girly of a name. A name means a lot.   

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