Few people have done as much to promote cocktail culture in Birmingham as Steva Casey, the bar manager at Veranda on Highlands.
Steva got her start in the restaurant business 17 years ago at Bon Apetit. In 2007, she moved to Little Savannah in Forest Park, where she worked off and on. In 2010, she took over the bar there, and that was when she really started to take off as a bartender. She expanded the horizons of Little Savannah’s bar menu and was frequently quoted in the local press about cocktail recipes.
Her cocktail program at Veranda is concentrated on classics and improvs. She says she likes to showcase classics you don’t see everywhere like the Martinez, the Opera, French 75, and Blood and Sand. She also always has a punch on her cocktail list.
In addition, Steva probably makes more Scotch cocktails than anyone else in town (or perhaps anywhere). She says, “With women of a certain age, between 40 and 60, it’s easier to get them to try Scotch than it is to get them to drink gin.”
What’s In Your Well?
Steva uses a lot of quinas, sherries, and other fortified wines in cocktails. “The great thing about Birmingham,” she says, “is that there it already has a great wine culture.” She says that in Birmingham, unlike much of the rest of the South, there are a lot of people with good palates for wine, who appreciate the acids and tannins, and aren’t just looking for a sugar bomb. It’s a short leap from there to sherry, madeira, and port.
Unlike some other prominent bartenders in town, she doesn’t use a lot of Carpano Antica Formula. Her go-to sweet vermouths are Cochi Torino and Punt e Mes.
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