~ Molly is the Bee's Knees, and knows her cocktails. ~
Molly Wellman, co-owner of Myrtle's Punch House, The Famous Neons Unplugged, Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar, and Japp's, has been doing it for a while. She's not one of these new kids on the scene jumping on classic cocktails because it's popular, and hopping behind the bar as a rookie. If you live near, or pass through Cincinnati it's a must to visit any of the bars she has a hand in. I've enjoyed the drinks I've made from her Handcrafted Cocktails book, plus reading about her career mixing it up and growing. Let's dive in and get to know Molly even more.
- The LAB Team
The LAB: Being behind the bar and hospitality scene of Cincinnati for a while, what are the changes you've seen in the city that have excited you the most?
Molly: I’m excited to see more and more bartenders who know their stuff! They know how to make great drinks and the history of the drinks they serve, because they’re taking bartending seriously. They research, develop new and creative cocktails -- using fresh and interesting ingredients. And, that’s awesome!
The LAB: Which celebrity would you get weak in the knees, or have butterflies from, if they came into your establishment (past or present)?
Molly: I would go absolutely nuts if Charles H. Baker came into the bar! I’d also totally lose it to serve a drink to Ernest Hemingway.
The LAB: Good picks. That would probably be an all day drinking get together. It's actually crazy to think Charles H. Baker lived to be almost 100.
The LAB: What are the 3 bar tools, and 1 bottle you'd take with you to a secluded island that has an endless supply of fruits?
Molly: Second Sight Rum. It’s amazing. The tools I just couldn’t live without, especially with an endless supply of fresh fruit would be a muddler, a cocktail shaker, and a good sharp knife!
The LAB: Which classic cocktail, or beer style best represents your personality? And why, if you'd like to elaborate?
Molly: The Kitty Burke cocktail, one of my own recipes, and is in my book. It’s light, refreshing, a touch of sweetness, a bit of floral, and has a big punch …just like me!
The LAB: A magical day off in, or around Cincy would be highlighted by what things?
Molly: if I had a day off, I would start the day off with going to my favorite place for breakfast, The Echo in Hyde Park. If it’s a beautiful day, I’d then head to Washington Park with a good book, and a flask of whiskey. For lunch, I’d stop in at Bottle & Basket for a sandwich, and set up for a picnic at the park. If it’s raining, however, I’d take my headphones and head to the Cincinnati Art Museum, perusing the halls and listening to some great tunes. Late afternoon is the best time for a drink! So, I’d head to my cocktail bar, Japp’s, for a pre-dinner drink. Depending on my mood, and what I'm craving I’d head to one of the fantastic restaurants in town. There are so many great places here, but I do love a good, juicy steak from Jeff Ruby’s, cooked medium rare. My fiancé, Bee, and I dine there often before seeing a show at the Aronoff or Music Hall. After a great evening out, it’d be time for a night cap, at any of the wonderful watering holes downtown.
The LAB: That's an impressive list, and you are a good ambassador for Cincinnati.
The LAB: If you weren't in the beverage industry what do you think you'd be doing, or fantasize about doing in another lifetime?
Molly: If I didn’t do bar stuff, I would love to a perfumer designing new scents!
The LAB: What is an experience, or lessons from childhood, that you feel helped prepare you the most for being such a badass behind the bar?
Molly: I’ve always been really creative, and can make something out of nothing. I’ve always been that way.
The LAB: What was the craziest ingredient you ever tried to incorporate into a cocktail, even if it didn't work?
Molly: Tobacco Bitters is my favorite weird ingredient. It’s my own secret recipe. And, yesterday I made a drink with beet juice! However, once I tried to make radishes work, and it DID NOT WORK…those are best for garnishes, if used at all.
The LAB: Your favorite thing to eat with a straight pour of American whiskey?
Molly: STEAK! Medium-rare from Ruby’s, or milk chocolate — just depends on my mood.
Congrats on all the success Molly, and also a big thanks to Lisa Colina with Wellmann's Brands for the help. We hope to make it to Cincinnati soon and pull up a bar stool. Cheers ~ Jason