Hadley Splane-Borja

Behind the Stick with Logan Raspa of Riverside Liquors

Welcome back behind the stick, folks! If you missed our cocktail competition at the beginning of August at , well, you missed out. from took home the honors but faced fierce competition from some of Jacksonville’s finest bartenders. Check out my article online for more information on what went down. In the meantime, take a look at with . He started there as a teenager in 2004, but returned in 2010 to really learn the trade. After seven years, Raspa has learned a lot and continues to share his knowledge. Going into the fall, Raspa recommends Cynar. It is a …

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Behind the Stick Cocktail Competiton, EU Jacksonville, Marlin & Barrel, The Parlour at Grape & Grain Exchange, Photo by Cristina Danielle O'Connor

Behind the Stick: Cocktail Competition

Over the last year, through my Behind the Stick column, I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with bartenders all over Jacksonville (and St. Augustine) and discovering what ingredients they’re working with on any given day. On Monday, August 7th, we held a competition in the to see how some of those bartenders utilized either the grapefruit cello or orange cello produced by . Of seven cocktails, the Valyrian Sling by Meaghan Leonard came out on top. She used the orangecello, the 2nd street gin (also from local distillery, Marlin and Barrel), and several syrups that she made herself. The resulting …

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Drink It Local: Marlin & Barrel Distillery in Fernandina

  This month I sat down with the head distiller at Fernandina distillery Marlin and Barrel, Wyatt Griesemer, to talk about the history of the distillery and where it’s headed in the future. Previously a bartender with Restaurant Orsay, Griesemer has been working at Marlin and Barrel for over a year now. The distillery itself is fairly new, having only celebrated their two-year anniversary in March. He says that there are currently four full-time employees and that the basic practice is, “making booze in back, selling it in front.” It is a philosophy that seems to work out pretty well …

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The Classic Negroni, photo courtesy of Campari

Behind the Stick: Negroni Week in Jacksonville, June 5-11

Welcome back behind the stick. This month we’re talking all things negroni. Are you familiar with the negroni cocktail, friends? With only three ingredients, it’s easy to make and hard to mess up. The negroni is comprised of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. The most classic ratio is equal parts of all three ingredients, but bartenders will vary the proportions based on individual taste. I prefer a less sweet combination and tend to add a touch more gin and Campari and a bit less sweet vermouth. In 1947, Orson Welles described the negroni as such: “The bitters are excellent for …

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Behind the Stick with Meaghan Leonard

Midnight Manhattan: 2 oz Canadian Rye (referencing Leonard’s French-Canadian background) Pike Creek (finished in port cask—Whistle Pig works, too) 1 oz Averna (an Italian amaro, bitter but so lovely) Dash Cardamom bitters, dash plum bitters (2 dashes Angostura will suffice instead) Welcome back behind the stick. This month I chatted with Meaghan Leonard, currently a bartender at Restaurant Orsay. Leonard is originally from Greensboro, North Carolina and has been in Jacksonville since 2007. She is currently working on a degree in Fine Arts from UNF. Leonard started as a math major before shifting her focus towards photography, and says that …

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Bistro Aix, drinks, bar, Behind the Stick, Blair Reddington

Behind the Stick with Blair Redington

The origin of the term “behind the stick” to describe a bartender is a tad murky. The general consensus is that bartenders earned the moniker because they pulled wooden tap handles to serve beer. Today, even bartenders who spend more time on craft cocktails than slinging beer identify as working behind the stick. This column is the first of our new monthly series profiling local bartenders. Pull up a barstool and join me as we learn more about our local scene and must-have drinks this month. I spoke with about his experience in the craft cocktail scene. He has been …

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Ft. George

Fort George: Island Time and the Scent of Saltmarsh

BY KATE MATTHEWS I arrived on  near midnight on an early summer’s eve under a bright half-moon. There was a feeling of being submerged in the hot, liquid air while the narrow, sharply curving road pulled me through tunnels of oak hammocks draped with thick Spanish moss. A glimpse of coquina ruins shimmered on my left, followed by silhouettes of palm trees to the right, framing marshland and the Fort George River. I have since learned that every islander I have met had a similar, often nearly mystical, moment of falling in love with Fort George. I found myself living …

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Neighborhood: Ft. George – Roll or Float Along with Kayak Amelia

Have you ever thought, “man, I would love to go off-road on a Segway but I just don’t know where to do that”? If so, I have some great news for you. Going on an off-road Segway tour is totally a thing you can do in Jacksonville! offers tours of Fort George Island two to three times a day, six to seven days a week (depending on the season and demand). We took a tour with them, and it was not only fun but informative. We met our guide, Nick, at their Segway shed just across the road from the …

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Neighborhood: Ft. George Eats & Drinks

The Sandollar and Barz Near the dock on Heckscher Drive there is a great bar and package place called . I spoke with Elaine whose parents opened Barz in 1972 and were involved in the Jacksonville liquor business from 1955 until their deaths in 2011. She tends the bar most days, chats with regulars, and welcomes new customers with a smile. On Sunday, a bloody mary will set you back just $2.50, and you can watch the boats and barges cruise down the river from the comfort of the bar. Whether you want to drink there or grab a bottle …

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Holidays at Universal Orlando are Pure Magic

The holidays are upon us! If you need an out of town option for entertaining kids (or yourself!), head down to Universal Studios and/or Islands of Adventure in Orlando for some family-friendly fun.  has the  EVERY DAY at 5pm until December 21st, then at 8pm from December 22nd through January 3rd. Walking around before the parade, you’ll see floats stationed at various points throughout the park. ( is particularly well-placed!) Just after the parade, catch performances by , who have “holiday” listed as their genre on their Wikipedia page. If the name is unfamiliar to you, just drive around listening …

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