Nick Kosevich might be the busiest man in the beverage biz. As the cocktail king of Eat Street Social, he’s planning a new outdoor tiki bar for the bar/restaurant that opened in south Minneapolis last summer. He is concocting new varieties for his Bittercube bitters line, and consulting for a pair of out-of-state restaurants with his Bittercube bud, Ira Koplowitz. Last week Kosevich was named president of the North Star Bartenders Guild, an 80-member craft-cocktailers coalition.
Add to that his gig as a brand ambassador with Bombay Sapphire, which will have him flying 45,000 miles from now until September, and it’s a wonder he had time to get us up to speed on all of his imbibing enterprises.
Q: So, what’s your first order of business for NSBG, El Presidente?
A: The one thing that we are really going to focus on this year is there’s a lot of legislation coming out about distilling in Minnesota, how that’s going to shape up. As a guild of bartenders, we really have an opportunity to make change not just for today, but for the future. So I’ve been putting some time into understanding the legislation and figuring out what we can do to be a voice in that. Here in Minnesota, we don’t have [many distilleries] yet, where in Wisconsin you’ve got eight or nine making unique products.
Q: Any fresh ideas for guild events?
A: We’re working on a golf tournament, slated for the end of June. It’s going to be 18 holes and each hole is going to be sponsored by somebody. It’ll be 18 holes of [alcoholic and non-alcoholic] beverages. There’s been some talk about doing an early fall block party, where we would do music and craft cocktails. The one thing that I really think we do the best is when we get to showcase the work that our bartenders do in different stations. That is the most fun, easy way to showcase that a lot of bartenders are basically making art in this town right now.
Q: What about Eat Street Social’s new tiki bar?
A: The idea is that we’re going to take some classic tiki drinks and do Eat Street Social versions. We’re going to have a daily grog outside, kind of like a flowing punch bowl. We’re doing a couple classics that I don’t think people are as familiar with, like a Marama rum punch. We’re using [ingredients] that you would not think are tiki, but a little fresh squeezed pineapple juice goes a long way [laughs].
Q: People don’t always equate tiki with craft cocktails. What made you want to merge the two?
A: I don’t think anybody’s done tiki in Minnesota where everything’s happening with the highest quality ingredients possible. It’s just like what we do with classic cocktails. We use our own formulas based on classic recipes, using really unique ingredients, and so to do that same thing for tiki just seems to make sense.
Q: I understand Bittercube has some new flavors in the works.
A: We’ve got the hops bitters coming out right now. They’re the strangest bitters we’ve ever made and they’re amazing. We also have a cherry bitters using Door County cherries and cherry pits from a farm in Michigan. We’re working on a line of syrups. We’re working on getting ready for production on three flavors: a green tea honey, Old Fashioned, which is cherry orange and cinnamon; and one is pineapple vanilla phosphate. Then we also have a line of liqueurs that we’re working on. Hopefully we’ll have the first bottle of one of the flavors done by fall, a kummel, a caraway liqueur.