The Twisted Alchemy ethos of elevating spirits, both in the glass and for the guest, guides Chicago bartender Maggie Lavengood as she works to carve out a space for surprise behind the bar.
Children everywhere encounter the creativity of cooking in toy kitchens, stirring make-believe soup and chopping imaginary onions. Maggie’s first toy kitchen invoked a cocktail shaker, a bottle of Tanquerey, and a toothpick of olives. “I loved old Hollywood movies, I loved watching classic film noir stars drinking martinis. I don’t think I realized what they were drinking, but I immediately wanted to imitate the glamour.” Luckily, her grandfather loved his gin martinis shaken and straight up and was more than happy to teach her. She recalls the mason jars he used to measure his gin and the very careful way he swirled vermouth in the glass before pouring his spirits. After that, she was hooked. “I couldn’t drink, of course, but I didn’t care! I loved being a part of this special ritual that my grandfather engaged in every evening,” she says. The rest of her family quickly caught on to the fact that they had a miniature bartender in the midst. Soon, she was making Bloody Mary’s at Thanksgiving, and Gin and Tonics at Christmas. This proved to be a crash course in cocktailling, and she shook and stirred her way to an adult love of the cocktails she had grown up watching her family enjoy.
Now able to drink her own martinis, Maggie bartends in Chicago and spends her time behind and beyond the bar reading up on the origins of spirits, the lore behind certain drinks, and the unique perspectives bartenders across history have brought to the craft. For Maggie, cocktailing is another way to bring people together. “Because I learned how to make so many drinks when I was young, and couldn’t drink them, the real joy came for me in seeing how connected people were to the tradition of the cocktails they loved. People could really form an identity and a community around their favorite drinks, and I found that so inspiring.”
As a fully fledged bartender, she has expanded her horizons beyond the classics, embracing the excitement and variety of juice-based cocktails. “I am all in for the power of the sour- I love the bright dimensions citrus adds to my drinks and the ease with which I can experiment with Twisted Alchemy juices. Having access to juices that stay fresh longer and save me time on juicing gives me a lot more freedom to be creative.” Lately, Maggie has been exploring Twisted Alchemy’s exciting line of cold-pressed juices, elevating the power of classic cocktails by adding our Cold-Pressed 100% Blood Orange Juice to daiquiris or Fresh Cold-Pressed Watermelon Juice to palomas. “One of the greatest things about being well versed in the classics is that it gives me a lot of space for creativity. Being confident and comfortable with these recipes lets me create new and exciting twists that bring joy to guests looking to try something unique.”
To Maggie, and to bartenders elevating spirits everywhere, Twisted Alchemy’s quality, cold-pressed juices are the key to providing creative, dynamic experiences that honor the timeless culture of bartending.
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