Ellen Talbot is lead bartender at Fable Lounge in Nashville.
What was your first bartending job?
The first place I got behind the bar was a French restaurant here in Nashville. I had worked for the company for 2-1/2 years and opened the restaurant as a server. After expressing interest in becoming a bartender for a few months, I had a day off and basically told them that I was coming in to train behind the bar. No one protested! That restaurant has since closed its doors, but I’ll never forget the mentors I had and all of the things I learned from my first bartending opportunity.
Fable Lounge just opened this past January; how were things going before you had to shut down due to the coronavirus?
We were settling into a nice groove. We had become friends with many of our neighbors and had some really awesome regulars. I miss seeing everyone! The bar team was getting comfortable in the space and we were gearing up for a busy summer.
What have you been doing during the shutdown?
I began teaching virtual cocktail classes from home for tips. It started with my aunt hosting Happy Hours with her coworkers, and it’s become almost a weekly event. In addition, I’ve been making friendship bracelets, napping with my cat, Facetiming with my family, reading books and riding my bike.
What is the status as far as when you can open?
While some establishments are reopening throughout Tennessee, here in Nashville and Davidson County, where Fable Lounge is located, we are following a stricter, phased plan to reopen as dictated by the health department and our mayor. The phases for reopening aren’t contingent on specific dates but on positive health data trends for our county. We’re still taking it day by day, but we can’t wait to get back to Fable.
What is your favorite spirit to work with at the moment?
Tequila. Always tequila. It can act like gin or, if it’s aged, like bourbon. I love the versatility of the spirit, and it’s just my favorite thing to drink.
You and your team created the Notions section of the vast cocktail menu; tell us about those drinks.
We tried to make something unique while acknowledging the spectrum of the different spirits that we offer. Our Notions utilize high-quality ingredients, so we don’t have to do much to make them taste incredible. We use a lot of house-made cordials, syrups and oleos to create flavors that you can’t find anywhere else.
What are you doing to promote sustainability in cocktails?
Citrus is a huge waste in the bar world; we strive to use every part of the fruit. After juicing, we use the hulls of the fruits to make oleos and soda syrups, and then the solids get dehydrated and pulverized into edible powders that we use to rim glassware. It’s a lengthy process, but the amount of citrus that ends up getting thrown away is negligible.
What’s your current go-to cocktail or beverage?
Gin and tonic! I’ve been using Ford’s gin at home and Fever Tree tonic water. It’s so refreshing during this beautiful spring weather.
Would you share the recipe for one of your most popular cocktails?
Here’s one for the Black Widow, a berry-basil blanco tequila drink.
2 oz. Blanco tequila
¾ oz. Lime
¼ oz. Demerara syrup
3 Basil leaves
Muddle basil and blackberries in a shaker tin. Add all ingredients with ice and shake until the tin is frosty. Using a sieve as well as a strainer, double strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with basil and a blackberry on a pick.