Chad Whittington is head bartender at Dilworth Tasting Room in Charlotte, NC.
What was your first bartending job?
My first bartending job was in 2004 with City Tavern in Charlotte.
What is your favorite spirit to work with at the moment?
My favorite spirit to play with at the moment is mezcal It’s a highly trending spirit, especially among women, and since that’s Dilworth Tasting Room’s most common customer, it’s even more fun to work with.
Dilworth Tasting Room is wine bar; do most guest order wine or cocktails (or beer)?
If we had to break down the ordering into a pie chart, it would be 55% wine, 35% cocktails and 10% beer. Now that the cocktail program is catching on, we see cocktails trending up—guests are starting with a cocktail and switching to wine when they order food.
What are some of the unique and popular wines you offer?
We offer over 20 selections each of red and white wines by the glass, and that list changes every other week. So it’s hard to pinpoint a specific unique wine we get in, but if I’d have to name something right now that we’ve been carrying for a while, I’d say our Hungarian white wine: the Furmint.
What’s the most popular drink on the list at the moment?
Hands down our most popular cocktail on our list is our house DTR Old Fashioned, featuring a bonded bourbon, organic agave, chocolate bitters poured over hand-crafted cocktail ice that’s hand-stamped with our logo.
Charlotte’s cocktail scene has been on the down low for a while; what’s it like currently?
I would say the cocktail scene in Charlotte is still on the rise. Charlotte became such a heavy brewery city in the past few years that cocktail spots kind of faded out.
Then craft cocktails started trending here, and a lot of restaurants wanted to jump on that but didn’t execute it properly. They were letting their clientele lead the direction towards basic Moscow Mules and things like that, to where going to a cocktail spot became more of an event rather than just going our for a drink. But we are definitely feeling that shift, slowly but surely.
What’s your current go-to cocktail or beverage?
My current go-to cocktail is a Boulevardier using an amaro rather than vermouth, or a classic Sazerac made with Cognac.
Would you share one of your favorite drink recipes?
The Cran Apple Crush is a seasonal craft approach to the mule with a cranberry-infused vodka, house cinnamon apple cider syrup, lime juice and ginger beer.
1 ½ oz. Deep Eddy cranberry vodka
1 oz. House-made cinnamon cider syrup
1 oz. Fresh lime juice
2 oz. Fever-Tree ginger beer
Serve over crushed ice with a cinnamon stick, thyme sprig and a dehydrated lime.