Minnesota’s Industry Icons: Badass bartenders leading innovation in the North

 

The Minnesota cocktail landscape is seeing a shift change. This year, the local chapter of the U.S. Bartenders Guild appointed Kate Hoffman Mikkelson as their first female president. Christina Jenkins leads Hai Hai’s highly-awarded cocktail program. Family-run Dampfwerk Distillery Co. has put marketing powerhouse Bridgit Loeffelholz at the helm of their brand new cocktail room. The Lynhall is revamping its beverage program with veteran cocktail chemist Whitney Evans. This month, we’re highlighting local legends making big moves for Minnesota. Here are their answers, in their words.

Spoon & Stable’s Jessi Pollak // Photo by Libby Anderson of Soigné Hospitality Group

Jessi Pollak – Bar Manager at Spoon and Stable

Pronouns: she/her

Jessi has just taken over the bar program at Spoon and Stable. She is the only woman and one of only four bar professionals in Minnesota to be certified “Bar Ready” by The Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR-5) Certification program. The BAR-5 program is a prestigious certification extensively covering knowledge and analysis of spirits, as well as the histories of cocktails and bartending. 

What are you most proud of in the history of your work?

I’m working hard, learning, and challenging the people around me every day. […] I love the hospitality community and the wonderful events that bring bartenders together. I’m proud of my performance in the Cocktail Apprentice Program, Speed Rack, BAR-5, and with the USBG Wellspring charity fund.

How do you want people to see you and your work? What would you describe as your style? 

I don’t spend much time thinking of how other people see me. If I’m doing my job well, it means my guests can focus on their own experience. I’m here to help people have a wonderful evening. I don’t take myself too seriously. We’re making cocktails, after all. Let’s have some fun. 

I’m eager for new challenges. I’m excited to build a more whimsical, seasonally focused cocktail menu. I’m also thrilled to help cultivate a community of womxn bartenders in Minnesota, and to mentor the next generation of hospitality professionals.

The Queens Cocktail Club L to R: Megan Luedtke, Anne Clifford, Katy Dimick // Photo via The Queens Cocktail Club

Megan Luedtke, Katy Dimick, Anne Clifford – The Queens’ Cocktail Club

Pronouns: she/her, they/them

In the last 18 months, The Queens’ Cocktail Club has helped raise over $3,500 for the Minnesota Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, Planned Parenthood, and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy. In the coming months, they have events planned to benefit Tubman and The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. 

What are you most proud of in the history of your current project?

We are most proud of creating this cocktail collective that celebrates women in this community and what we can accomplish when we come together. This project has been in the works for a long time and we are proud of getting it off the ground. The recognition and support we’ve received from our peers and the people we look up to in the service industry has been incredible.

How do you want people to see you and your work? What would you describe as your style?

Conscientious. Our drinks are crafted with passion and purpose. We try to work sustainably and seasonally. It’s important to us that our events support the community that helps us thrive, both through sourcing local ingredients and giving back to local organizations.

We come from three very different industry backgrounds and currently work within vastly different programs, but we’re able to work together and meld our styles to create unique cocktails that represent us as a collective.