The Bar Napkin, featuring The Aviation

May 22, 2010 (Day 112) — The Aviation

This week in The Bar Napkin, we’re going to be taking a little bit of a different approach. Previously, we’ve interviewed a bartender with his own traveling business, a cocktail stylist, a former bartender and an aspiring bartender. In keeping with the tradition of interviewing people involved in the cocktail industry, we’re now going to be interviewing a cocktail/food writer. Now, some of you more cynical people out there may find this a bit odd — a blogger interviewing a blogger? But fie on you I say! After all, Wine Me, Dine Me in Cincinnati was recently voted the #3 blog by City Beat readers. So, hah! See? I got an interview with someone cool!

This lovely lady is Julie Niesen, author of “Wine Me, Dine Me in Cincinnati.” And she’s the most recent victim of The Bar Napkin!

Cocktails, 365: How long have you been writing for your blog?

Julie: “wine me, dine me” has been around since January of 2008.  I’ve blogged elsewhere (like Vox and Livejournal) since 2000, but “wine me, dine me” really took off.

Cocktails, 365: How did you first get started writing?

Julie: I’ve been writing since I was a kid, but I’m sure my bachelor’s and master’s in English certainly spurred me on.  I started writing “wine me, dine me” when I was in a job that bored me, and I needed to flex some creative muscle.  The old adage goes: write what you love.  I eat out a lot, love to cook, and love to talk about food origins and that sort of thing, so a food blog– based in my hometown– seemed a natural fit.

Cocktails, 365: What sort of reviews do you do?

Julie: My main focus is reviewing restaurants in Cincinnati, but I also travel a lot for work, so I’ll touch on some restaurants in the cities I visit as well.  I love high quality cuisine– whether that’s at a four-star restaurant or a food truck.  It’s all about execution, ingredients, and passion– sort of like a cocktail!

Cocktails, 365: What’s your experience in cocktaildom?

Julie: I’m a bit of a newbie.  I’ve always loved a good cocktail, but I didn’t get into the craft aspect of it until I had drinks at restaurants that featured craft cocktails– Tonic, Senate and Rookwood here in Cincinnati, Bouchon in Las Vegas, and a few other places around the country.  Once I had a taste of my first Aviation, I was hooked, and wanted to make them myself! As anyone who knows me will tell you, when I get into something, I pretty much dive off the deep end.  My bar went, in just a few months, from a bottle of Maker’s Mark and some old vermouth (blech!), to the beginnings of quite the respectable cocktailian.  I am reading classic bar books, and trying to learn as much as I can about the history of these great drinks.

I started blogging about cocktails only in March of this year.  I realized how much fun I was having, and wanted to share everything I was learning with my readers.  It was a natural fit– food and wine go together, and so do food and cocktails.  It’s been a hit!  So many people have shared their memories of classic cocktails, or have tried out new things– it’s been really gratifying.  I really look forward to experimenting during the week and posting every Friday. Plus, it’s been great to connect with the greater cocktail community.  I’m so excited to be attending Tales of the Cocktail for the first time, so I can meet some of the people whose work I read and who’ve taught me a ton without even knowing it!

I’ve only recently begun to venture forth from the classics.  It’s like cooking: learn to do something the classical way, then you get to add your own touch.

Cocktails, 365: Do you have a signature drink that you’ve thought of? Or is there one that you particularly like that you’d like me to feature?

Julie: I have two cocktails in development– one involving Corsair absinthe, and the other an organic Elderflower liqueur, but they’re not quite ready for prime time yet!

Julie recommended the The Aviator. Now, there are two ways to make this drink — one with creme de violet and one without. Now, I wanted to make the traditional drink. However I was completely unable to find the creme de violet. So I went with the more popular — modern — interpretation which excludes the very difficult to find violet.

So, here’s the more modern, standard version.

The Aviation

2 oz gin

.5 oz lemon juice

.5 maraschino

A great mix of sweetness of the maraschino and the bite of the gin and citrus. I used New Amsterdam, which is a sweeter, straight gin. The balance was pulled off very well. I very good classic. I’d like to eventually get my hands on some creme de violete, and try the traditional version. But, for now, this is one damn tasty cocktail.

A very sincere thanks to Julie for taking the time out of her schedule to be interviewed! You can find her at Twitter and on her blog.


— Mark


  1. […] People like Julie Niesen. […]

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