Good cocktails at the MiniBar? Ryan Miller has a plan
A lifetime ago, before retinol cream entered my bedtime routine, many nights included a stop at the MiniBar. (It helped that for a while I lived in a duplex right behind the facility.) This was usually my last stop, the place I went to when I wasn’t quite ready. for the end of the night, and I was sipping a three dollar Hamm or repelling a shot from Cuervo before tripping home. This was never the bar I went to for a craft cocktail.
Ryan Miller is slowly changing that. In August, he became CEO of MiniBar, and he brought with him all the products he had developed as part of his pop-up drink concept, Fancies Sodas. Of the eleven faucets available at the MiniBar, Miller has picked up five for the seasonal highball cocktails. Highballs are your typical rail drinks – a spirit and a carbonated mixer, like vodka soda. But Miller’s cocktails on tap are far from basic.
There’s a seasonal gin and tonic (Rieger’s Midwestern Dry Gin paired with a crunchy and soothing celery tonic), a comforting Americano made with spicy chai seltzer, a mojito made with tangy mint soda, whiskey with a punchy ginger ale. The Boozehound, Miller’s version of a classic Greyhound, marries Tito’s vodka with Fancies Twangy Grapefruit soda and a salty edge. The Fancies brand lives up to its name and Miller doesn’t skimp.
“Everything is made from scratch,” he says. “Spicy ginger ale is made with ginger, chili peppers, water, and sugar, and I process all of these things by hand.”
To prepare his grapefruit soda, Miller zest the grapefruit, peels and squeezes the fruit, then adds sugar, water and different acids and salts for balance before carbonating all the ingredients together and putting the cocktail in keg. for the tap line to the MiniBar. The end product looks deceptively simple – Miller rims a glass with salt, fills it with ice, and releases the pinkish liquid from the tap – but the drink itself is bright and tangy and eminently sipable.
“Cocktails on tap can make service faster and more efficient and deliver a consistent product,” says Miller. “And it comes down to the service part. Being an artisan bartender means you’re excellent at your craft, and there’s a lot of skill involved in pouring a glass of Malört in a sports bar and serving it with pretzels, because bartending isn’t just limited to prepare drinks.