By Kristin Boza
A party’s not a party without a signature drink.
Lizzy Benner, Horse Thief Hollow mixologist, loves entertaining her guests at home and at Horse Thief Hollow with her out-of-the-ordinary handcrafted cocktails. “One of my favorite cocktails is a Manhattan. It’s such a good cold-weather cocktail,” Benner said. But of course she makes her own version with a twist, which can be found on Horse Thief Hollow’s menu as “Lizzy’s Perfect Manhattan.”
Benner enjoys playing with the classic cocktails and giving them a more modern flavor. Yet, she also craves the artistic experience of coming up with someone brand new, particularly her Mushroom Cocktail, which includes candied mushrooms; and Blood Moon Rising, made with blood oranges, bourbon and smoked thyme. Another featured item on Horse Thief Hollow’s menu is a margarita, concocted with blood oranges, cinnamon and jalapeno. “So, those are a little different!” she said.
Benner’s devotion to hand-crafted cocktails began when she worked at Hard Rock Hotel. “We had a bunch of craft cocktails on the menu, when they weren’t even a thing yet. So that’s how I got my start,” she said. Then her friend Emily, who worked at Mapletree Inn, became another great influence. “I would go to Mapletree, get a drink and just be amazed,” she said. “Emily makes these crazy cocktails that, still to this day, I haven’t even heard of, so she introduced me to the craft cocktails a while ago.”
When Neil Byers opened Horse Thief Hollow, he also wanted to ensure the handcrafted nature of his business extended to cocktails as well. Benner joined the staff from the start four years ago and now has created an extensive menu of handcrafted drinks.
Later this month, Benner will launch her own cocktail demonstration business. “People always ask me to do demonstrations at their events, so I got the idea to do it on my own in my free time,” she said. “I always engage the audience during the demos and can come to your house for a private party,” which will include making a signature drink just for your guests. Stay tuned for more news from Benner and how you can hire her for your own unique party.
Blood Moon Rising
2 oz Bella Meade Bourbon
1 oz Combier Orange Liquor
2 dashes of black walnut bitters or vanilla bitters
2 blood orange wedges
1 lemon wedge
A sprig of fresh thyme
Muddle blood oranges and lemon in a shaker. Add all ingredients in shaker with ice (except thyme). Shake. Shake. Shake! Strain in an old fashion glass. Light the thyme on fire over the drink to add smoke. Garnish with the smoked thyme.