Bartenders hear our stories all the time. So let's hear theirs for a change. This is Behind the Bar: interviews with bartenders over a drink (or two).
— Story and photos by Kajal Singh
This week we're chatting with Kendall Lockwood, the bar manager of Ball & Biscuit in on Mass Ave. in downtown Indianapolis. This terrific craft cocktail bar has a speakeasy vibe, and it is one of the wonderful establishments in Indy that serves Cardinal Spirits.
CARDINAL: At Ball & Biscuit, you make a tiki-coffee cocktail called the The Eugoogoolizer, with Cardinal Spirits Songbird Craft Coffee Liqueur, Plantation 5 Year Rum, Zaya Rum and brown sugar-maple simple syrup. What's behind the name?
KENDALL: The Eugoogoolizer is a pun off of the movie Zoolander. Everyone quotes either Will Ferrell or Ben Stiller movies from back in the day; the Eugoogoolizer is a funny one we usually quote. So we decided to just call it the Eugoogoolizer and see how many people actually get it.
Important editor's note:
Derek Zoolander: Or are you here to tell me what a bad eugoogoolizer I am?
Matilda: A what?
Derek Zoolander: A eugoogoolizer... one who speaks at funerals.
[Matilda looks at Derek confused]
Derek Zoolander: Or did you think I was too stupid to know what a eugoogooly was?
What’s your best advice for people who want the drinks they make at home to taste as good as the ones they order at a bar?
Technique. Technique. Technique. Make sure you get a recipe and measure everything. I think a good measurement is always key.
If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be? And what would you drink?
I am a huge fan of Meryl Streep; she’s a do-gooder. Meryl Streep and Diane Keaton – I know they are both actresses and that’s kind of cliché. I should probably pick somebody from history, but I think those two are pretty awesome.
Also, Ellen DeGeneres. I love the good Ellen does for people and I feel like she’d be really fun to have cocktails with. I’d definitely be having mezcal or tequila.
How long have you been in Indy?
I have lived in Indianapolis since I was 7 years old. I’m from Arizona originally. I actually moved back to Arizona for a year and moved back to Indianapolis a couple of years ago. I went to high school and junior high in Indianapolis, so I basically grew up here but my heart is in the mountains and out west. I’ve been bartending since I’ve been able to bartend but I’ve always loved the hospitality business; I’ve been in the service industry for my entire life. My dad was a baker so I would always hang out in the bakery even if I wasn’t getting paid.
Tell me about the time you had your first cocktail.
The first time I had a real cocktail, I was at Purdue University. There is a little bar called The Sparrow. The guys that own it are really cool. I don’t remember what the cocktail was but I remember the vibe of the place. It was really cool and I just enjoyed the feel of it. I probably had a vodka or tequila cocktail because I still hadn’t tried that many spirits at the time. I wasn’t really that into it. I was newly and barely 21.
What’s the best way to cure a hangover?
I always drink a lot of coconut water. If you don’t like the taste of coconut water, anything spicy is always good for you to have because it’s going to help sweat out the alcohol in your pores. If you don’t like coconut water, the best concoction is: half an ounce of lemon juice, coconut water, soda water poured over ice in a pint glass. The lemon juice and soda water totally mask the taste of the coconut water. Just drink two of those you’ll be fine. If you drink cocktails with coconut water – especially if you do this at the beach – you won’t be hungover the next day.
What’s the most interesting story you’ve heard while bartending?
I wouldn’t say there’s a specific story, but Ball & Biscuit is kind of the online dating hub. We get first dates in here all the time. You can always tell if someone needs to be saved or if someone needs to go talk to him or her to decompress the situation. You’ll also have people who come in early and get a drink to calm their nerves. They’ll be like, “If this person shows up, I just got here. Don’t let them know that I’ve ordered a drink already.”
Do you have a favorite toast?
"Stigibeu" (pronounced stee-gee-BAY-oo). It means roughly “to the lifeforce that is around us” and is typically said before sharing a copita of mezcal.
Can you share some good advice that you’ve been given?
Always be humble. Even if you are an amazing bartender, you are still not better than somebody else who wants to drink a Jack and Coke. There is nothing wrong with someone who wants to drink a Jack & Coke. There is nothing wrong with someone drinking what they like. For life in general, be the example you wish to see in the world. Just be good to each other.
If you walked into Cardinal Spirits right now, what would you order?
Knowing your spirits, I would order a tiki drink with the Tiki Rum. Tiki is my jam; it’s totally what I am into right now. I just think rum is so interesting; it’s just beautiful.
What makes Cardinal Spirits different than other craft distilleries?
The people that work for the brand, at least that I’ve met, are really passionate about what they do. I hate to say it, but a lot of people who work at spirit companies aren’t really passionate about what they are doing because it’s just a job to them.