Posted August 14, 2016

Mediterranean Spirits with Bartender Gen Longoria

Eat + Drink

Launching not one but two bar programs for a brand new hotel is a tall order, but lead bartender Gen Longoria of Tre Rivali & The Outsider, at the recently opened Kimpton Journeyman Hotel, was up for the challenge. “This is the very first time I’ve built bar programs from the ground up, literally,” says the San Antonio native. “When I first walked into the space, there wasn’t anything in the room–the floors were unfinished, the walls were bare and there wasn’t even a bar top. The very first moment of excitement came on the day the construction crew installed the bar top and I ran my hand across it; it all started to feel very real. There’s so much pride that goes into this.”

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Some of the spirits within arm’s reach at Tre Rivali.

Although Longoria was raised in San Antonio, Texas and developed her love of complex and round flavors there, Milwaukee is home, and also where she earned a culinary arts degree. She credits this in-depth study of cuisine and ingredients with helping her understand how specific ingredients in dishes pair or contrast to cocktails. Her unique skill set is put on display within the concept bar program at the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant Tre Rivali, where Longoria dove deep into the different drinking cultures of the Mediterranean region.

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Lead bartender Gen Longoria

Expect to see Spanish-style gin and tonics, where the traditional lemon or lime garnish is swapped out and replaced by herbs like spearmint and rosemary or plants like fennel and anise. “Spanish-style gin and tonics were a bit foreign to me at first, but it’s a style of drink that I’ve completely become obsessed with,” says Longoria. “When creating new cocktails, I like to take tried-and-foolproof classics and incorporate flavors of the Mediterranean.”

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Tre Rivali’s herbal twist on the classic gin & tonic.

Guests can also choose to bookend their meal with a traditional, regional aperitif like ouzo or raki, and then sip a traditional digestif of grappa or mastiha, or simply enjoy a glass of housemade retsina, a crisp and herbal Greek wine. As the weather cools, Tre Revali’s cocktail menu change; fall and winter, for example, will see a wider selection of Amaro and sherry offerings.

Nine stories above Tre Rivali, the bar program at the indoor/outdoor bar, The Outsider, is more casual but equally refined. Milwaukee’s celebrated drinking culture is showcased through local breweries, artisans and small-batch distilleries. Longoria is grateful for the opportunity to work with local vendors and share a bit of hometown pride on her menus. “Milwaukee is home and…it gives me great joy to spread the word of how much these folks are pouring their heart and soul into their passions.”

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The love goes to local brews at The Outsider.

Guests at The Outsider will be able to take home containers of their favorite brews thanks to the new growler program. Or they can kick back and enjoy the cozy fire pits and plush day beds during the winter months, or lounge under a retractable trellis during the spring and summer with a light and refreshing low-alcohol “crushable” cocktail.

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Kick back in the fresh air next to a fire pit at The Outsider.

So, after all that intense study of drinking cultures and wine and spirit discovery, what does Longoria like to sip at home to unwind? “I drink to the occasion.” says Longoria. “Sometimes the day calls for a neat pour of my favorite bourbon, or Belgian brew…depending on the day, maybe both. Sometimes the day calls for an apéritif and club soda. However, sparkling wine is great for all occasions.”

After all her hard work debuting two bar programs, we think that’s an occasion worth toasting. Cheers!

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