Denver, CO 80203
In our March Bartender Feature, we talk with Laura Banning of The Hornet in Denver, Colorado.
The Hornet was one of our very first bar/restaurant supporters in Denver when our distillery was just getting its start. They have been committed to featuring our rums on their cocktail menu for YEARS and we couldn't be more full of appreciation for this amazing place. This year, Montanya Distillers celebrates our Tenth Anniversary and we will bring the party to Denver to host a party at The Hornet on May 20th. Details to come, stay tuned!
Laura Banning, Manager/Bar Manager
Years Bartending: 9
What’s your favorite rum cocktail?
I really enjoy a good-flavored mojito. There are so many things you can add to a mojito to make it more unique. It’s so amazing how many different liqueurs are out there, and I have yet to find one that doesn’t really work. I am sure there could be some questionable flavors, but I am always into seeing if we can make it work. We try and switch up our mojito flavors a few times a year, and right now we have a Hibiscus Mojito made with Montanya Oro and hibiscus liqueur.
What’s your most memorable cocktail with Montanya Rum?
For as long as I have worked here, which is about six years, we have had the classic Painkiller cocktail on our drink menu. Our owner had a very memorable experience at a place called The Soggy Dollar on Jost Van Dyke where he first tried a Painkiller. He loved it and wanted to make sure it made it on to The Hornet’s drink menu so he could share this delicious island drink with Denver. It does super well for us, and you wouldn’t believe how many people have not had one! I love making this cocktail, because I like to imagine making one on a beach somewhere one day. When I get to watch someone try it for the first time, I love their reaction to how delicious it is; they almost always want another one… or two. I highly suggest making a big batch of this cocktail at your next backyard soiree. Your friends will thank you for it!
The Hornet's Painkiller
1.5 oz Montanya Platino Rum
1 oz Cream of Coconut
Combine all ingredients and shake. Pour into tall glass full of ice, and garnish with nutmeg.
What do you wish people knew about bartenders who develop craft cocktails?
Bartending isn’t just a job for a lot of people. People who bartend professionally love being a bartender. Not only is it a really fun job, but getting to be creative is probably the best part. We can pour whiskey and cokes all day long, but in the end I think bartenders get a lot more out of their job when they are creating new cocktails or even just putting a spin on an old recipe. I personally enjoy when a guest doesn’t really know what he or she wants to drink, because that gives me the opportunity to chat them up a bit and see what kind of drinks they normally consume; now the ball is in my court and I can get creative and make something special for them. Sometimes I learn things from my bar guest as well, and we co-create something awesome! That’s memorable to a guest when they get that kind of love from a bartender. We don’t want to just pump drinks out to the masses, because in the end, a really great craft cocktail may be what brings those guests back on the regular!
What sets your bar program apart from all others?
I think with so many amazing bar programs in this city, it can be quite the challenge to do something that really sets you apart. We just try to do what we do and do it really well! Honestly, I have really loved that we don’t ever stick to one thing. One week we will be coming up with really interesting infusions, and then another week we get into creative simple syrups. Flavored simple syrups are probably my personal favorite. I especially love to take all the flavored teas that are out there and make a syrup from those. One we have done really well with here is our chai simple syrup; it’s so delicious with rum and coffee!
Why The Hornet loves Montanya Rum!?!
We always have at least two cocktails made with Montanya Rum on our drink menu. We love Montanya Rum, because WE LOVE LOCAL, and we love rum! I love introducing the rum to people coming to our restaurant from all over the country and sometimes internationally. Montanya has a great story, but more importantly, they are also making a positive imprint on our planet with their sustainable practices, which is a home run with everyone here at The Hornet!
Drink more rum, everyone!