For our next bartender feature we went down to Florida – specifically Gainesville, home of the Florida Gators and the largest university in the USA. Known as one of the “best places to live and play,” we checked in with Julian Miller (AKA Jules), co-founder of the premier cocktail lounge – Sharab – to get the local scoop.
How long have you been bartending?
I’ve been Bartending almost seven years now. I started during my undergrad at the University of Florida, and really got hooked on crafting great cocktails.
How is the bar scene in your city different from anywhere else?
Gainesville’s bar scene is primarily fueled by UF students so there is an overabundance of dive bars and pubs, so we created Sharab as a bit of a backlash to this drinking culture.
What are your thoughts on SHOT cocktails as an up and coming trend?
Bartending in a college town there is already an abundance of shots consumed, but I do see patrons looking for better shots than your everyday Washington Apple or Kamikaze. I feel that as crafted cocktails make a resurgence as the drink of choice the trend will carry over to patrons demanding unique shot cocktails.
What are the most innovative ingredients you’ve used in a cocktail?
I’d say more obscure than innovative, but in a quest for the ultimate “Man-tini” we dabbled with meatballs and buffalo chicken at one point. I love playing with anything I can get my hands on, but a couple of my favorite ingredients I’ve used were wasabi paste in that I rocked in a wasabi passion-fruit margarita and gummy bears to infuse scotch for an Archer shot.
- What new drink trends do you see on the horizon?
I think there is going to be a continued resurgence of the prohibition-era cocktail culture. More and more I see people wanting something more than just a fruity mixed drink. Drinkers are transitioning to wanting a true cocktail that plays off of its liquor ingredients and showcases them, rather than masks them behind a veil of mixers. The spirit market is constantly bringing better products like Harlem to the market, and as a result people are going to want to taste these product instead of your played out mixers.
- Have you ever made a drink for a celebrity? Who?
Bartending in Gainesville, I have served at one point or another every Gator athlete to go pro in the last seven years, except for Tim Tebow who didn’t drink. I did get to squeeze him a glass of orange juice though.
- What do you like most about HARLEM? How does it differ from other spirits you’ve tried?
I think Harlem is next to perfect, it’s a perfect balance between sweetness and body and it goes down a little too easy sometimes. I prefer it Chilled straight, but it really is a versatile spirit that plays well with just about anything you throw at it, and maintains its unique flavor.
- What is your signature HARLEM Shot Cocktail?
Duchess, Which is 1.25oz Harlem, .5oz Fragoli, .25oz St. Germaine, and a couple swipes of lime zest. It shaken and twice strained into a chilled shot glass. The shot is distinctively Harlem, but it showcases the softer floral notes in the spirit.