30 Mar Wham, BAM, Thank You Christina Rando
Bartender of the Month. Christina Rando, Beverage Director at Brick and Mortar Philadelphia.
Christina Rando’s introduction to the bartending world came like many others: by responding to an ad on Craigslist. She quickly made her way up the ranks. About a year and a half later, while tending bar at the Franklin, Rando created her very first cocktail that she dubbed “Red Medicine,” a variation on a Scotch Swizzle. “The drink had 10 or 11 different ingredients, because I was at the Franklin, and I thought that’s what it had to be,” she said.
Since her time at the Franklin, Rando has simplified her recipes and no longer believes complexity is what the people are looking for. “If you had asked me this two years ago when I was at the Franklin, I would have said things probably need to be a little more complicated to keep it interesting.” She continued, “I think we’re over that hump now in the ‘mixology’ world. We’re trying to get back to not scaring people away or keeping them in the dark with ingredients they aren’t even certain about. So I actually think simplicity is far more important than complexity, given the right space- especially in a place like this.”
That place is Brick and Mortar Philly, a hip, service-driven establishment located at 315 N. 12th Street. With an extensive rotating list of beer, wine, and cocktails (not to mention the delicious food), Brick and Mortar (familiarly known as BAM) has quickly established itself as a favorite haunt for locals and travelers alike. BAM’s General Manager, Len Wood, says that concept for Brick and Mortar came from a book called The Great Good Place by Ray Oldenburg. Wood says, “We wanted to make it easy for you to come in a couple times a week.
Wood says that while developing the concept for BAM, he and his partners took employment in well-to-do cocktail lounges and “less-approachable” establishments. He went on to explain, “When it comes to cocktails, Brick and Mortar is about quality, creativity and knowledge. Christina executes this very well. It requires skill to build her creations, like the Stateside Highball.”
“I’ve always drawn on the culinary world. I take items I enjoy eating, and try to impart them into cocktail creation,” says Rando. “I didn’t want it to just be green tea and honey, because I feel like that’s already been done before,” she says, “So we found an awesome cold-pressed pistachio oil and added that to our house honey syrup.” Rando says that the inspiration for the recipe came from a desire to incorporate the flavors of baklava in a drink. What she came up with is a delightfully refreshing cocktail using Stateside Vodka, green tea, lime, honey, and pistachio oil.
The drink has made it’s way to the top of the Brick and Mortar drink list and so far has been “selling like hotcakes,” according to Rando. We asked Rando what she thought of Stateside Vodka and she replied with wide eyes, “I was surprised. I normally taste vodka and think this is okay, it’s vodka. This particular vodka though spoke to me as a perfect ingredient in a cocktail. There was certainly brightness in the spirit and I was excited to craft something with it.”
Get over to Brick and Mortar and treat yourself to a great experience with delicious fare and fantastic libations. Ask Christina to make you a “Stateside Highball” and find out why we believe that she certainly has found her craft and is getting better at it every day.
Wood let us in on some plans, “the biggest goal for us is to create awareness for the Brick and Mortar brand while continuing to serve as an anchor to help the neighborhood grow.” They are holding an “Art Night” every third Thursday each month showcasing local artists and they are partnering up with Mission-22, an organization to help veterans more easily become acclimated with society. 10% of Stateside Vodka’s cocktail proceeds will be contributed to their organization.