Not content with making great drinks, Nicolene Schwartz set out to make top-notch ingredients, too.
Schwartz, a former bartender and current beverage consultant, is the founder of Roake, which makes crafted simple syrups.
The syrups, which she calls tonics, come in a variety of flavors, including the two flagship options – ginger and spiced cherry. Schwartz said the tonics help ensure the consistency of the drink.
“First of all, for me, the idea is: Does it make the cocktail taste better?” she said, “and it does.”
Schwartz, 31, leases professional kitchen space Downtown to make her elixirs.
They are available to any industry consumer, but mostly are used by her restaurant clients, which include Rigsby’s Kitchen, Arch City Tavern, the two MoJoe Lounge locations and the Jury Room.
Her plan is to expand the Roake product line and have it be available at the retail level. In the meantime, she will work on building up production capacity and a strong clientele.
As she transitioned into a mixology consultant, she would create designer cocktails for her clients using the artisan syrups.
She would then train staff how to make them, but that became too labor intensive. So, to simplify the process, Schwartz started her own business last July.
She has roughly a dozen staple flavors, some containing as many as 16 ingredients, including raspberry honey, pineapple anise, nine-spice winter tonic, pomegranate grenadine and citrus honey among them.
Meanwhile, she creates a great deal of the drinks from scratch. The tastes of clients vary from place to place.
“I adapt these based on the bar I’m working for,” she said.
Schwartz, also a professional writer, got her start in the restaurant industry as a bartender for The Diner in New York City. It was there she learned the value of an artisan cocktail program.
After moving to Columbus, she was a bartender and general manager for about two years at Rossi in the Short North.
She said Columbus residents have proven to be adventuresome.
“Most of the time they’ll be willing to give something a shot,” she said.
Goetta has returned to Powell.
The Diner, which has re-placed Jodi’s Home Cooking in the Liberty Plaza, is serving the German-American sausage patty popular in the Cincinnati area.
The restaurant offers classics diner fare, including chicken salad, chili, burgers, chili, sandwiches and salads. Most entrees are priced between $6 and $7.75. The diner is also open for breakfast.
Among the dishes are steak and eggs, pancakes, omelets and, of course, goetta, a pork product usually fortified with steel-cut oats. Most of those dishes run between $4.75 and $8.75.
The Diner is owned by Pat Petty, who owns Powell Hair Design right next door. The space had been vacant for 10 months.
“We knew we’d have to have a good product that’s priced right,” he said.
A word to customers: Only cash and checks are accepted. Although, Petty noted, there’s an ATM in the parking lot.
The Diner, 240 N. Liberty St., is open for breakfast and lunch six days a week. It is closed Monday.
Yogi Perogi is branching out to local grocery stores.
The Grandview Avenue restaurant’s Polish dumplings now can be found at the Green Bean Delivery, an online grocer. The Clintonville Community Market expects them soon.
Owner John Wagner said he is reaching out to all independent grocery stores, restaurants and food trucks.
The stores will carry Yogi’s vegetarian options, including Wagner’s signature cheddar-and-potato pierogi. A bag of six, which weighs a pound, is $7.99.
Yogi’s pierogis use organic flour and local ingredients when available and contain no preservatives.
Future locations will be published on the restaurant’s website, www.yogiperogi.com.