Spice up your cocktail with gourmet eats
Heart of The House Charlotte, NC
Kitchen 56 is about creating the heart of the house and bringing a chef's cuisine and a mixologist's cocktails together, creating masterful pairings. This month, we visit Charlotte, NC, a city exploding in culture, food & beverage, hospitality, and fantastic industry talent. Renowned chef Richelle Espinosa-Brewer is a passionate, talented industry veteran who loves what she does and absolutely loves her city. We asked chef to create a dish inspired by and representing her city.
- Chef Richelle Espinosa-Brewer's amazing recipe!
- Cocktail pairing by bartender Brian Woulfe!
Chef Richelle Espinosa-Brewer
What was the inspiration behind this fantastic dish, and how did you incorporate Jägermeister in the dish?
This dish was inspired by some of my favorite fall flavors. It really dives into a warm, savory meal that will leave you comforted and happy. I wanted to incorporate the style of cooking I currently use at the restaurant by cooking with an open fire with different wood chips to absorb the smokey flavors into the dish, by grilling the veal chop and finishing it in a pan on the grill. Charlotte is known for a variety of cultures and culinary scenes that I wanted to bring to light with this dish. From Mediterranean to Asian cuisine, from French to southern cooking, Charlotte has a lot to offer, but we are known for our southern style of cooking. I wanted to show some southern goodness with my pork shank collard greens. The deep savory flavors of the pork broth complement the bitter agent of Jägermeister and the collard greens. The sweet potato mash is complemented with fresh notes of ginger and herb and hints of nutty flavor from the white miso paste. This dish has a source of complex flavors that complement each other with every bite, which reminds me of a specific alcohol I used in the recipe multiple times, Jägermeister!
What do you love the most about the city?
If you have ever visited Charlotte, you would know that it is a rare occurrence to meet someone born and raised here. Most of our population comes from various larger cities on the East Coast. I have lived in Charlotte my whole life and truly enjoyed watching the city expand into what it is now and will be in the next 20 years. The growth of Charlotte has been beautifully fast-paced. Charlotte is very similar to NYC regarding being a melting pot of different cultures, and it absolutely shows with the vast number of new restaurants that are opening. I’ve always enjoyed traveling to larger cities and indulging myself in their well-established culinary scene. Still, I am excited to see that Charlotte is making its way onto that list of culinary excellence! To simply state, Charlotte is a rare hidden gem. This city is alive and amazing and only will get better with time!
Photo by Nate Laird @Jagerlifeatx
The inspiration behind the cocktail creation.
When presented with the challenge of creating a drink involving Jägermeister, my mind immediately went to the bold flavors the bitter herbal liqueur presents. I had thoughts of creating a homemade syrup or tonic of some sort that might fit the bill. I then had a senior bartender named "Murphy" come into my bar and order a round of "red-headed &!*$&". I had never heard of these before, and he had a good chuckle at the fact I didn't know what they were. (I have often fancied myself as a drinks nerd, so my tail was firmly between my legs.)
However, it did get my wheels turning because I had a sample before sending it out, as you do (winky face). The peach and cranberry did an excellent job of skirting around the notes of the Jägermeister profile. The color was also satisfying. I liked the structure but wasn't mad about a long-serve twist as the texture was heavy, and I also wanted to tie in something culturally significant to the city/state.
A week or so later, another bartender in the community called "Derry Dan" happened to mention he had used saffron to play with color and flavor in a competition involving another bitter herbal liqueur. I loved the aesthetic and color. It also got my wheels turning about the saffron's ability to pair with the notes, accentuate some already existing flavors in the liqueur, and lighten the color. Knowing chef Richelle had used cherry with red meat, I thought I could add a tart citrus pair to it in the hopes of cutting through some of the richness in the dish.
I decided I had the basic structure of thought for what I wanted to do. Cherry and peach were the secondary flavors I chose to play with. Cheerwine is one of my favorite sodas and also happens to be founded and headquartered north of Charlotte in Salisbury, NC. Including all these ideas was my goal, and I hope I have managed to create something enjoyable.
Cocktail Name: Cheery, Deery!
- 1 part Jägermeister
- 1 part Peach schnapps
- ½ part Lemon juice
- ½ part Cherry concentrate
- 2 parts Saffron tea
Garnish: Lemon peel
Glass: Mason jar
Method: Pour the above ingredients into a shaker and shake. Double strain over ice in the jar. Top up with cheer wine. Garnish with lemon peel.
Tips and Tricks
Not too much to report, but ensuring the tea is brewed and the drink is well shaken. The Cheerwine top shouldn't exceed 2oz; if the lemon juice is well oxidized, I will lower the lemon quantity (1/3 oz).
Grab Your Tools! Let's Make it Together!
Video By Nate Laird @jagerlifeatx
What do you love most about your city?
The people. The people I meet from all walks of life and the fellow service industry people I get to meet is my favorite part of the job. I know that's cliché, but I have at least a story a day regarding someone I have met on any given shift. It is a lot of fun. I have often gone home from a shift, had a drink, and just rerun through the different personalities I converse with.
What does hospitality mean to you?
I have always had a literal take on it. I believe it is to be hospitable to everyone, and anyone is a priority. Repeat custom for most of the industry is essential, and I think our ability to be hospitable is our greatest tool to ensure repeat custom.
Chef Richelle Espinosa - Brewer, aka “Chef Shiki,” was born and raised in Charlotte, NC making her somewhat of a unicorn. After high school, she continued her education at UNCC, where she pursued an English education degree. Like many other students working their way through college, she worked in bars and restaurants, mainly in front of the house. Eventually, she found herself in the kitchen at an uptown café alongside her mentor, chef Steve Mcginley, where she quickly rose through the ranks to become his sous chef. After the café was sold and reopened, she rejoined the restaurant as the executive chef before taking over another for the following two years. Upon leaving, she continued to learn new cuisine and techniques before she accepted an executive chef position. This is where Chef Shiki started to make a name for herself in Carolina’s culinary scene. After two years, she took an opportunity to once again learn a new cuisine and style at a restaurant in Plaza Midwood. Flash forward a few months, and the world is hit with the Covid19 Pandemic. Out of chaos and uncertainty, a new opportunity arose as she is now the executive chef of a top restaurant bar in Charlotte once again.
Hi there, how are things? Brian Wolfe is my name, and I bartend in Charlotte, NC. I am originally from Ireland and have worked as a bartender in the UK, Ireland, and America. Having bartended for nearly twelve years, I have seen many different markets and brands. Jägermeister is one of a few unique liqueurs that is quality enough to be a “must-have” behind the bar across the globe. When given the opportunity earlier this year to work with the brand, I was delighted to swing the bat at creating a drink recipe to match a dish.