When entertaining aficionado Katie Ewing asked close friend and cocktail expert Kendall Dreyer to co-host a cocktail party for her friends, she had no idea it would turn into a full-fledged business concept. The design was simple: throw a fabulous cocktail party that would not only expand attendees’ knowledge, but empower them to recreate the featured libations on their own at home. After receiving a fanfare of feedback and a lot of encouragement, the duo knew they had landed on something special. POUR, Atlanta’s mobile, interactive cocktail party, was born. Katie and Kendall arm guests with the history of cocktails, the know-how to mix cocktails at home, the confidence to order at any bar and, of course, a sample of the party’s curated creations. Today, we chat with Katie and Kendall as they give us a sneak peek into their exclusive soirees, their go-to spots for drinks in Atlanta and a large-batch recipe perfect for your holiday parties. Meet Kendall Dreyer and Katie Ewing, today’s FACES of Atlanta.
What is your bartending/entertaining background?
Katie: I’ve always enjoyed hosting, bringing groups of people together and planning!
Kendall: I started bartending when I was 19. I learned some important basics, but I essentially had to forget all I thought I knew about technique when I found myself immersed in the craft cocktail world at 23. I dove head first into spirits education, cocktail history and collaborative menu development. Currently, I co-lead a bar program. At 27, I still have plenty to learn, but I love to nerd out and teach others.
Give us a peek into the planning and execution of a POUR event. What does a typical party look like?
Kendall: We want to tailor the experience and content to the client, and knowing our audience helps us curate. Generally, we begin the class with a welcome cocktail. It’s something easy, low alcohol and bubbly to get things going. Next, we introduce ourselves and the cocktail, what we do, and what the guests can expect. Then we dive in. We start with a selection of shaken cocktails. We describe each one and encourage questions. Then after an intermission, we moved to richer, stiffer, stirred cocktails. I try to tie the educational points together from cocktail to cocktail — make it cohesive and cover ground seamlessly. I also try to cross utilize products, so guests understand the versatility of key spirits.
Why is it important to your business model to incorporate education, as well as lots of fun, into your parties?
Katie: Education is our angle. We all enjoy a thoughtfully made cocktail, but do we understand the words on the page of the menu? We throw out the intimidation and the pretentiousness [of cocktails] and make people feel comfortable asking questions to help them better understand what they are drinking, what they like about it and possibly how to make it for themselves at home!
Bar carts are all the rage in home decor. What makes an adequately stocked bar cart?
Katie: I keep my home bar stocked with a good bottle of all my favorite base spirits: gin, tequila and bourbon. I also keep angostura bitters, Campari, Chartreuse and Luxardo. With those on hand, along with fresh citrus juice, I feel like I have my bases covered. Kendall put together a great “Home Bar 101” document that we pass out at our events that walks you through everything, including what glass to serve which drinks in.
With the holidays around the corner, many of us are thinking about our holiday gatherings. Can you give us a simple large-batch, no-fail, party-perfect cocktail recipe that we can recreate on our own?
Kendall: I will often come to parties with a large mason jar full of batched negronis. It’s my go-to because it couldn’t be more simple! It’s equal parts London Dry gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. Add around 15% water for dilution. Refrigerate. Serve on ice in a rocks glass with an expressed orange peel.
If you’re headed out for drinks in Atlanta, where do you go?
Katie: I’m a bit biased because I work there, but my go-to spot is Octopus Bar. Highbrow food and drink with a lowbrow late-night setting. I also love Kimball House when I’m feeling fancy, Krog Bar for intimacy, and Elliott Street Pub for amazing sandwiches and beer.
Kendall: Kimball House for cocktails. I totally trust them; it feels like home, and I’m always excited to try something new there. I don’t get over to Midtown often, but I am a forever fan of Kellie Thorn’s cocktails at Empire State South. On any given day, I tend to stick to dive bars. I will drink way too many beer-flavored-beers at The Righteous Room.
Bartending/mixology is an industry that has traditionally been dominated by men. How is that changing in Atlanta, and how is POUR playing a role in that change?
Kendall: No matter how respected a woman may be in her industry, a man will always be looked to first. It’s a harsh reality, but I know some women who are taking the reins and doing big things like winning competitions or receiving national recognition. POUR wants to ready the patron for confident ordering in a bar setting. We want to help you discern flavors and ask questions that won’t get you a condescending response. It’s supposed to be fun, but so often women are talked down to by male (also female) bartenders. That probably won’t change, but if you want to have a smart conversation about what you are looking for, or what you are drinking, it’s a fun journey to learn what it is you like and how to ask for it.
What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve ever been given?
Katie: A good friend of mine always tells me, “Don’t simplify what’s complicated, and don’t complicate what’s simple.” Easy as that.
Kendall: Don’t sweat the small-scale things you can’t change. Similarly, don’t think you can change people. I’m still working on putting this advice into action, but it is by far the most liberating news I’ve ever received.
What are three things you can’t live without?
Katie: Oh man, I am blessed with great relationships, both family and friends, and a huge network of people, especially in Atlanta. I thrive on those social connections and support. And, wine, I don’t think I could live without wine.
Kendall: I’ve half-heartedly tried to live without coffee, and that is definitely not happening. People give me crap about my giant Madewell tote, but it is my favorite possession — and music, duh.
As always, a tremendous thanks to Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography for the wonderful pics of Katie and Kendall!