Rebecca Monday is the beverage manager at VASO, the rooftop bar at the AC Hotel Columbus in Dublin, OH.
What was your first
My first bartending job was in New York City in the East Village at a dive nightclub called Karma Bar and Lounge. Here I learned values of high volume, diverse guests and how to pour a well drink.
My first bartending job that changed my life and created a passion and career for cocktails and spirits was at Curio in Columbus, Ohio. This award-winning, small cocktail house is no longer in business, however, it felt like my first “bartending job” and taught me how to break of the bad habits I was taught at previous bars.
What is your favorite spirit to work with at the moment?
Creating Tiki cocktails and using sugarcane spirits such as rum, agricoles, and cachaças.
VASO, which is on the rooftop of the AC Hotel Columbus Dublin, offers signature drinks handcrafted by your tableside bartender. How does that work?
One of our signature drinks is VASO’s house sangria, which is prepared in a glass Spanish vessel called a porron. Our servers and bartenders pour the sangria high from the porron to creat liquid ribbons into the glasses. Not only does this spectacle make for a great show for our guests, but this method also creates aeration and adds texture to the cocktail.
The restaurant offers a Spanish-style tapas menu; is that influence reflected in the beverage program?
We complement our tapas menu with our beverage program by focusing on seasonality, locality and sustainability. You will see Spanish sherries incorporated in the cocktails and many international flavors.
Our beverage program has recently expanded, and we have doubled our cocktail menu. For this, and for an even more diverse approach, I challenged my bar team to be hands-on in creating this cocktail menu as a means to highlight individuality and our team as a whole at VASO.
What’s the most popular drink on the list at the moment?
Our Signature G&T. This specialty cocktail is made with VASO’s custom gin made at the local Watershed Distillery, AC tonic syrup with lavender, bergamot, lemon, dried juniper berries, a Mediterranean soda and is garnished with baby’s breath.
How would you describe the current cocktail scene in Dublin?
Evolving. Until a year ago, if you wanted a proper cocktail with fresh juice, quality ingredients, and a nice spirit selection, you would have to travel 25 minutes to downtown Columbus. Now with VASO setting trends and our community growing in Dublin, you are able to walk around our community and find a handful of quality beverage programs. One of my main reasons for working in Dublin and not downtown anymore is to educate and pass on my training to a new generation of bartenders and bring it to a new community.
What’s your current go-to cocktail or beverage?
My go-to cocktails right now are a 50/50 Martini or a low-proof Spritz.
Would you share one of your favorite drink recipes?
The Bird of Paradise is a new cocktail that will be served at VASO this season and it’s the picture of summertime sipping, especially on our rooftop. With lower-ABV cocktails and sustainability increasingly becoming a priority in cocktail development, I created the Bird of Paradise to meet this growing trend.
At VASO we have found a way to recycle produce trimmings into our cocktail program. Pineapple skins, fresh mint, basil, water, and sugar are placed in a high-speed blender (Vita-mix). Blending this green tropical and herbal liquid, a culturally inspired non-alcoholic drink known is created, agua fresca (fresh water). It can be made by using seasonal fruit, herbs, low amounts of sugar and water, as well as with different spirits.
Bird of Paradise
1 oz. Plantation Pineapple rum
1 ½ oz. House aqua fresca*
½ oz. Fresh lime
Basil leaves and aromatic mint springs
Shake all ingredients and serve in a highball. Garnish with basil leaves, mint sprigs, and a 1/4 cut orange wedge, shaping garnish around straw to resemble bird of paradise flower.
* For Agua Fresca
2 cups fresh basil
2 cups fresh mint
2 cups sugar
1 qt. water
Wash whole pineapple and cut pineapple in ½” cubes leaving skin on. Slowly blend into Vitamix until pulpy. Add fresh basil, mint, and blend. Add sugar and blend. Add water and blend. Strain into container while sifting pulp until all liquid is removed. Pour 2 cups water over pulp to pull flavors and create fruit water.