Everyone looks at the world through their own unique lens, and Meagan Schmoll is no different.
“I really enjoy looking at the world through a lens of booze,” Schmoll said recently while carving ice for a drink at her home bar in Whitefish. “Bartending was a really unique way of being able to learn about the world and then share it with others in a way they hadn’t seen before.”
Schmoll is a bartender, spirits educator and cocktail creator who has been a staple of the Whitefish cocktail scene for the last five years. If you’ve gone out for a evening in Whitefish in recent years seeking a quality cocktail to quench your thirst or accompany a meal, chances are you’ve had a drink designed, poured or influenced by Schmoll.
Schmoll’s first bartending gig was in 2011 in Wyoming, and she was quickly hooked on the scene. When a classic cocktail bar, the Rose, opened in Jackson, she started truly cutting her teeth on the art of mixology.
“It becomes like a dance when you’re behind the bar,” she said. “Especially when you’re with coworkers and you’re just all moving around each other, flowing, it’s a show. One that makes people happy.”
One of the first cocktails that opened Schmoll’s eyes to what could be accomplished in a coupe glass was the Corpse Reviver No. 2, a drink created in London’s Savoy Hotel during the Spanish Influenza.
“It was a combination of flavors I’ve never had before,” Schmoll said. “With a touch of anise, orange, floral, a kind of grapefruit-y essence from the Lillet Blanc and then the dry juniper flavor — it was just a whole botanical mouthful.”
Ever since, Schmoll has pursued her cocktail education, reading books, taking courses, learning histories and experimenting with pairings in order to share that knowledge with the world. She has competed in cocktail competitions across North America, earning accolades for her creations and flair.
When she first moved to Whitefish, Schmoll began bartending at Tupelo Grille, and soon oversaw the restaurant’s cocktail program. She was then tapped to help open Abruzzo Italian Kitchen, designing the cocktail menu and training the staff on the nuances of crafting drinks.
Last summer, as Jalisco Cantina prepared to open in Whitefish, Schmoll was hired to develop the cocktail menu and crafted six “local-flair” cocktails, including the Cantina Old Fashioned (Espolon repo, plantation pineapple rum, oloroso sherry, fig syrup, mole bitters) and the Fembot (Willies Bighorn Bourbon, maple syrup, grapefruit, lemon, orange bitters, Xocatl mole bitters.)
“Creating cocktails requires finding the balance between the spirits, the sweets, the sours,” Schmoll said. “I’m looking at efficiency, functionality and flavor profiles, making sure I’m diversifying the spirits so the bar isn’t going through a single type of alcohol, and creating cocktails that are simple enough that bartenders aren’t cursing my name every time something is ordered.”
When the COVID-19 pandemic prompted many business models to shift away from in-person services, Schmoll expanded her brand, Raskol Drink, onto the web, building a series of classes based on spirit education.
She discovered that she could reach a wider audience through Virtual Happy Hours, narrating the history of a spirit and introducing the creation of different cocktails to small groups that joined her over Zoom.
“I’m introducing people to new ways of drinking they wouldn’t necessarily try,” she said, noting that getting outside of a bar setting allows patrons to truly interact with a spirits expert. “I want to expand their spectrum of flavor and really guide them through the cocktail experience.”
Raskol Drink offers a range of booze-related services. Interested parties can book private in-person or virtual cocktail affairs to learn about pairing spirits and food, or indulge in a few hours of history lore around a favorite drink.
Schmoll also offers full training seminars for home bartenders and industry professionals alike to take a deeper dive into cocktail structure and techniques and is also for hire to curate private bar collections — of any size and price range.
“If someone calls me up and says they have $40 every two weeks to spend on a spirit, I’ll direct them towards what to buy and what can be made with each purchase,” Schmoll said. “You can also just take a photo or tell me all the alcohol you have in your cabinet and I’ll create a personal list of cocktails you can make with what you have.”
Schmoll expects that as summer wanes, her classes will start to pick up, and she’s continually adding ideas to the list of experiences she wants to try curating for customers.
“It’s always a puzzle trying to figure out somebody else’s palate, and being curious about what makes other people happy— I enjoy that sort of human connection,” Schmoll said. “I want to empower people to be able to make their own drinks, share those and become better hosts in the process.”
Raskol Drink will host a Bitters workshop on Aug. 25 at Jalisco Cantina, and a class on the six families of cocktails will begin in December. To register, or see other offerings, visit www.raskoldrink.com.
Raskol Drink Recommended Reading List
- Joy of Mixology, by Gary Regan
- The Craft of the Cocktail, by Dale DeGroff
- Death & Co, by Alex Day, David Kaplan and Nick Fauchald
Home Bar Basics
- Whiskey (bourbon or rye)
- Tequila Blanco
- Sweet and dry vermouth
- Shaker tin
- Pint glass
- Hawthorne strainer
- Measuring device
- Stirring stick (chopstick, bar spoon, etc)
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