The title “bartender” barely scratches the surface of what Charles Joly does. He has worked in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years, and in that time he has won prestigious awards (James Beard Award for Outstanding Beverage Program at The Aviary, Tales of the Cocktail American Bartender of the Year in 2013, and World’s Best Cocktail Menu in 2014), appeared as a guest on top morning shows, and created the official cocktails served at the Emmys and Academy Awards for the last five years as their official mixologist.
He is also the co-founder of a ready-to-drink cocktail brand that launched almost 10 years ago, well before today’s trend. Joly is a leader in the international craft cocktail and spirits movement, and we were lucky enough to get a few minutes with him to chat about beachy drinks and some of the amazing places he’s visited throughout his career.
1. What’s your go-to beach bar drink?
When I think of the beach, my mind and taste buds go to either blanco tequila or rum. Let’s be honest though, my mind always goes to tequila and rum. The daiquiri is one of my go-to cocktails. It is one of the near-perfect classic cocktails. Unfortunately, it’s been a victim of overly sugared slushie machines and bad pre-mixes. When done in the classic style—high-quality rum, real lime juice, and just enough sugar to balance the citrus—it is a thing of beauty.
Our Crafthouse Cocktails Pineapple Daiquiri was a pet project for me. I knew we were going to have to teach people about a proper daiquiri. If the combination of pineapple and five-year- old Barbados rums we source from Plantation along with aromatic bitters and lime juice doesn’t make you want to have a seat in the sand, I’m not sure what will.
2. In your extensive global travels, what has been your favorite beach destination?
This is a seriously tough question. Who doesn’t love gazing out over the water, cocktail in hand? I’ve had the pleasure of being a featured mixologist at the Cayman Cookout, hosted at The Ritz-Carlton in the Cayman Islands for several years. I get to shake up my creations alongside some of the world’s best chefs. We all come together in a celebration of food and drink in an incredible setting. The calm waters and views are stunning.
Sipping ice-cold fino sherry while staring across the Strait of Gibraltar in Spain, having lunch on a secluded beach (with daiquiris, of course) in Cuba, hiking down to a rugged inlet bar in Mykonos, giving a bartender master class on the sand in Indonesia, dusting off the surfboard in Rincon, kayaking to Moku Nui in Oahu… enough of this, let’s pack our bags!
3. Crafthouse Cocktails was a first-mover in a segment that’s now exploding. How did you come up with the idea?
My business partner Matt Lindner and I have both spent our entire lives in hospitality, working in restaurants and bars. Somewhere about 2011, I was running one of the first full-fledged cocktail bars in Chicago (the original Drawing Room, which opened in 2007). Guests would always ask for our recipes so they could make drinks at home or for parties, and we would always oblige and walk them through the steps. Inevitably, they would come back and say the drinks never tasted quite as good as we made them at the bar. I encourage and love to teach people to make cocktails at home. That said, it is a skill and takes time and practice to perfect. There are nuances that separate good cocktails from great cocktails.
Matt and I started chatting and asked ourselves why no one was making high-quality prepared cocktails. We started to explore what it would take to create some. Two years of tasting, testing, and R&D later, we launched Crafthouse Cocktails. From the beginning, we were committed to using real spirits, real citrus, real sugar, no preservatives, and serving true ABV (the same strength) that followed what we did in the bar.
The past ten years has been a wild ride for our independent brand and the category has exploded. We spent much of that time just having people taste our drinks, so they could see for themselves that a fantastic, cocktail bar quality drink in a bottled format was possible. We’ve done a lot with our little team, partnering with airlines, airports, Amtrak, Virgin Voyages cruises, hotels, theaters, and awesome retail partners to spread the word about the best quality bottled cocktails. These types of partnerships are typically reserved for big corporate brands. Luckily, our quality, integrity, and passion has shined through, and people have been on board since the beginning.
4. What ingredients, flavors, or garnishes remind you of the beach, and how do you like to incorporate them into drinks?
There are some universal flavors that vibe with the beach, most often along the tropical and tiki vibe. Fruits, spices, and juices that are native to these areas will always play well. That said, this is where quality really counts. So many of these flavors get overly processed and become a shell of their former selves. Things like passion fruit, coconut, pineapple, and banana can all make incredible, refined cocktails when you take the time to source good produce. They quickly go the other way when we revert back to the oft-used artificial approximations of these.
5. What are your top must-have items to take with you to the beach?
I get antsy at the beach. I’m the type of person who needs activities. If there are sensibly sized waves, I love to try and surf, albeit poorly. I always bring goggles so I can swim some distance and enjoy aquatic life. I can spend all day peering into the alien depths around reefs and such. I never pull up without a small cooler filled with our Crafthouse Cocktails aluminum bottles. They’re tailor-made for the beach, 100 percent recyclable, and stay cold. If it’s an all-day thing, I usually bring a book as well and pretend like I’m going to get some reading done.
To learn more about Charles Joly, follow him on Instagram (@charlesjoly, @drinkcraft.house) and check out charlesjoly.com and [crafthousecocktails.com](http://crafthousecocktails.com).
Bring the Beach Bar Home
“I’ve created many beach-worthy cocktails over the years, but let’s start out with one of the basics. Once you’ve mastered this fundamental cocktail, shake in your favorite fruits and start to embellish it,” said Joly.
Done Right Daiquiri
– 1 ounce aged rum *(I like Plantation 5-Year Barbados, Denizen
Merchant’s Reserve, or similar)*
– 3/4 ounce white rum *(Plantation 3 Stars, Denizen White, Flor de Caña
– 1/4 ounce Jamaican pot still rum *(Smith & Cross, Plantation Xaymaca)*
– 1-ounce fresh lime juice
– 3/4 ounce simple syrup *(1 part sugar dissolved into 1 part water)*
– Dash Angostura bitters
– Glass: Cocktail coupe
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail coupe. Garnish with a lime twist or wheel.