Natalia Cardenas has been slinging drinks for over 13 years and she is damn good at it. We were lucky enough to work with her on the creation of some of the fantastic tea cocktail found on our website and her concoctions are original, inspired and delicious. We caught up with her recently at her new gig - Bar Manager at the Corner, where she is working on additions to their already-awesome cocktail menu.
LCT: So good to see you! Congrats on the new gig!
NC: Thanks! Really excited to be working here. I've worked at some great places around town (Ed. note: Natalia's resume is impressive. The Ritz on Sobe, Oceanaire, The River Oyster Bar, L'echon, etc.) but this is the first time I'll be running my own program.
LCT: Awesome! What's your cocktail, your personal fave?
NC: I am really into white wine spritzers recently. My spritzer is not your Abuela's spritzer though. My version has vermouth, st. germain, champagne and white wine - it's pretty potent.
(Ed. note: Yes, yes it is potent)
LCT: Why do you like working with tea in your cocktails?
NC: Tea is really versatile. You can control the strength of the brew, make it more or less acidic, according to what the recipe would call for. Also tea is really aromatic, which adds a certain something to a cocktail. I like it when someone tries my cocktail and they can't exactly place the taste. Tea allows for that subtlety.
I'm from the South and grew up in the middle of a sugarcane field. I grew up on sweet tea and my mom, who's Mexican, used to make a delicious clove tea from plants she grew. Tea really connects to those memories.
LCT: You came up with some fantastic recipes for us, including the Miami Winter Punch.
NC: Thanks. I really like that recipe, especially the use of the cranberry infused honey. Cranberry has pectins, which make it naturally gelatinous. I combined the cranberries with the honey and the other ingredients and waited for the cranberries to pop and dissolve on their own into the honey. I liken it to making chicharos! (Ed. note: That would be split pea soup, Cuban-style).
You can taste some of Natalia's creations at the Corner and check out her special Lemon City Tea recipes on our website here