Scott Kollig is the beverage manager of Rye Street Tavern in Baltimore, MD.
What was your first bartending or hospitality job?
My first job in this industry was at 15, getting paid “under the table” for prep work and dishwashing. It was for a catering company that would execute weddings for 500-plus guests. It was wild and I loved every minute of it—despite coming home reeking of stale water, trash and food.
Rye Street Tavern focuses on spirits and wines from North America—why the domestic focus?
There is an all-out renaissance happening in North America, with impeccable spirits and wines of unmatched creativity and quality being produced. We wanted to celebrate those artisans and knew that this would be the best way.
What is your favorite spirit to work with at the moment?
While we have “rye” in the name of the restaurant, I always enjoy working with gin. There are so many different styles that lend themselves to versatility.
What’s been your most popular cocktail at Rye Street Tavern?
By far our most popular cocktail has been the Sinatra Sour, a riff off of a classic New York Whiskey Sour, made with New York apple cider syrup. While it is a fall/winter seasonal cocktail, we have guests stop in during the peak of summer asking for it. Apart from being delicious, it also has a striking visual appeal, with the red-wine float providing a layered effect that guests see and immediately want one without knowing what it is first.
What is the Baltimore cocktail scene like now? What beverage trends are you seeing?
I believe that the Baltimore cocktail scene has always been incredibly strong and underrated. Local bartenders have always had a fervent commitment to quality and knowledge, focusing on classic cocktails brought to a modern light. As far as trends, I’m seeing amaro and other bitter ingredients unabashedly put into drinks, and bartenders not being afraid to push boundaries.
What’s your go-to cocktail at the end of a shift or long day?
A well-made G&T, always. Carbonated drinks allow for quicker alcohol absorption, and quinine in tonic water is great for muscle pain. If there is a more perfect cocktail for someone in this industry, I haven’t found it (because there isn’t).
Would you share one of the most popular or one of your favorite drink recipes?
2 oz. Bourbon
1 oz. Apple cider syrup*
½ oz. Lemon juice
½ oz. Red wine (zinfandel works well)
Add the whiskey, cider syrup and lemon juice to a shaker tin and add ice. Shake briefly, strain into a rocks glass with ice. Pour the red wine over the back of a spoon on top of the drink, garnish with a cherry and enjoy.
*For Apple cider syrup:
2 qts. Apple cider (we use Red Jacket Orchards)
2 Allspice berries
5 Whole black peppercorns
1 cup Sugar
Bring all ingredients to a gentle boil, reduce by half of its original volume and strain out the spices. Allow to cool before using.