“When I arrived in that town,” Jeffrey remembers, “I was clean shaven. That made me look different from most men in the community, one where nearly everyone seemed to have a beard. I totally looked like an outsider. So, I grew a beard and became known as the guy with a beard behind the bar – and now I can’t shave because the beard is part of my brand.”
People often assume that Jeffrey grew up on a farm, but that isn’t the case. “I certainly have driven by corn and soybean on a daily basis in Iowa,” he says, “but I don’t come from a farming background. In fact, when I was growing up, I didn’t even really like to eat my vegetables.”
So, how did all of that change?
You can credit the liquor laws in Iowa! “In Iowa,” he says, “we are limited in what we can buy, try and use because we can only have access to the liquor the state brings in. So, when I was studying mixology and wanting to earn certifications, I couldn’t necessarily get the flavored liqueurs that I wanted. So, for example, if I wanted but couldn’t get an orange-based liqueur, then I’d have to figure out what oranges they had probably used to make the product, and then try to reproduce that in a natural way.”
Here’s another factor. “Clients were wanting lighter menus, and using botanicals along with a reduced amount of spirits just made sense.” Need another reason? “I also had a burning desire to try new things, a mentality where I wanted to make drinks for restaurants that played an important secondary role to the food, drinks that used many of the same ingredients.”
So, all of these reasons led to Jeffrey experimenting with cocktails and mocktails, crafting ones that contain culinary products, including farm-fresh ingredients. He has an intuitive eye towards out-there trends, and a passion for mixology and gastronomy, using these combined talents to create cocktail menus that tell authentic and compelling stories.
We’re excited to hear what Jeffrey has to say about how vegetables are finding their way into cocktails, beer and nonalcoholic beverages in creative ways – and he’s excited about coming to his very first Roots conference. “I feel as though I’m jumping into a world of rock stars. I really am a big fanboy! My goal is to help bring cocktail and culinary together to the point where creating cocktails is seen as an exciting career to have, not just something you do while you’re putting yourself through college. I’m very interested in both spreading my knowledge and learning from chefs about how to discover even more ways to add healthy ingredients into drinks. I also want to say that farmers truly are the unsung heroes. Without them, I couldn’t do my work. Because of them, creating cocktails with farm-fresh produce allows us to all come full circle.”