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Sepia's Griffin Elliot Talks Seasonal Cocktails

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[Photo: Timothy Hiatt]

If you're looking for a refreshing, natural way to drink this summer, GREY GOOSE® Pressé has your answer. Inspired by fresh ingredients, GREY GOOSE Pressé is a delicious collection of cocktails that keeps things simple, marrying your ripest local fruit with the smooth taste of GREY GOOSE vodka.

Griffin Elliot recently joined the team at Andrew Zimmerman's Sepia as head bartender, taking over one of the most respected bar programs in town. Originally on track to become a fine dining server, he spent some time at Michelin-starred Boka and eventually veered towards cocktails under the tutelage of the restaurant's famed mixologist, Ben Schiller. He then honed his chops at Scofflaw, where he helped launch the beverage menu. After establishing himself in Chicago's mixologist community, he finally landed at Sepia. There, he focuses on technique, fresh ingredients and a creative approach to the classics. Read his thoughts on seasonal ingredients and his favorite GREY GOOSE recipe, after the jump.

Do you see the demand for locally sourced ingredients in dining translate to the bar program?
I do see the demand for locally sourced ingredients shared between the kitchen and bar. For instance, if someone sees a rhubarb component on a dish, they might want to pair that with a cocktail utilizing rhubarb. Other popular shared ingredients may be berries, cucumber, herbs, and other seasonal fruits and veggies.

Do customers ever ask you where your ingredients come from, or do you find that is just not on the minds of drinkers?
I find it rare when a guest asks where an ingredient comes from. It's more common to be asked how we incorporate that ingredient into the cocktail. I often notice people searching for locally crafted spirits.

How often do you change the menu? What seasonal ingredients do you try to rotate in when summer strikes?
I change the menu seasonally, and often rotate one or two drinks to keep things fresh. Summer ingredients I'm looking to work with include raspberries, strawberries, watermelon, and peaches.

What's your favorite ingredient right now?
My favorite ingredient right now is our sous vide rhubarb and grapefruit syrup. It's very clean and vibrant. I love how it turned out. It works well with vodka, tequila, and rum.

Here now, Griffin Elliot's favorite GREY GOOSE® cocktail:

2 oz GREY GOOSE
1 oz blackberry raspberry syrup
.75 oz lemon juice
Shake with mint, strain and top with soda, serve in Collins with ice, garnish with mint sprig.