Currently based in Miami, Florida Alli Torres tends bar at Freehold, located in the heart of Wynwood, Miami’s trendy arts district.
We asked Alli about her inspiration for creating new cocktails and her go-to ingredients when crafting her drinks program.
What inspired you to become a bartender? Tell us about your background.
Truth be told, I became a bartender out of necessity. I stayed a bartender out of passion for hospitality. I was always told to find a “real” job, as most of us understand, until I grew my expertise, began working for respected venues, and winning awards. Funny how that changes!
Where do you tend bar now?
Currently, I’m the GM and Managing Partner for the Freehold in Miami. While I do not bartend daily, I manage the beverage program and definitely roll my sleeves up often when they’re in the weeds.
Who has been most influential in your development as a bartender?
I always and forever attribute my success to Juan Sanchez (my mentor in San Diego) He was the first one to teach me proper mechanics and how to dry shake an egg. He always told me he could teach me to do anything, but you can’t teach personality.
Do you have any advice for novice bartenders?
Treat cocktail creations like cooking. They’re more synonymous than people think. Pair citrus with herbs, freeze fruit – try it all! Vodka is your easiest base. Rum does more work than you think with the sugar.
What is your favorite ingredient right now and why?
Teas! I’ve been on this kick for a minute since I started collaborating with different companies for more non-alcoholic options. I love making syrups that I can blend either way. A high rye Old Fashioned with an Earl Grey tea syrup, twist of lemon and orange. Gorgeous.
How do you go about creating a new cocktail? Is there a specific process or simply a moment of inspiration?
It always comes back to food for me. I’ll be in a restaurant tasting a new dish, or seeing an ingredient prepared so differently – and the wheels start turning. I love martinis but have an aversion to olives. I once made a salted heirloom tomato martini at the 1Hotel to satisfy my salty and seasonal moment.
Do you have a special technique you use or a tip for making a particular drink?
One of my signature moves is to always dry and then hard shake my Espresso Martinis. This is a drink that falls flat quite often, so ensuring a high-quality sweetener is paramount as well.
Where do you see the bartending/cocktail culture headed?
Low ABV and cleaner drinking is gaining so much momentum. I think it’s very important we realize our physical and mental health on a daily basis and cater to maintaining this. I see more uptick in natural wines, mixers without added sugar, etc. Riding the conscious wave is part of our ethos.