The next time you go to Abreo restaurant in Rockford, raise a glass to Elliott Ernst.
The US Bartenders’ Guild recently named Ernst one of the country’s Top 100 World Class bartenders.
“There were (hundreds) of applicants, Chicago, New York City, Manhattan, Texas, Miami, everywhere,” Ernst said. “So, I’m very pleased to be in the top 100. We’re putting Rockford on the map.”
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Competitors were asked to create their own take on a spritz to serve at one of several occasions such as a brunch, pool day, aperitivo hour or a backyard bar-b-cue.
“So, I designed my own kind of herbal-based spritz,” he said, “and they must have liked it.”
The US Bartender’s Guild’s is a worldwide not-for-profit organization focused on promoting, elevating and uniting the bar industry through education and mentorships as well as keeping its members informed about the cocktail culture and the hospitality industry.
Ernst’s signature cocktail is what he calls the “LV” or Louis Vuitton, a combination of passionfruit puree, aperol lime, a bitter orange liqueur; vodka and fresh basil.
“It’s fruity, but not too sweet because it’s got that kind of bitter like grape fruity kind of flavor,” he said. “It’s well balanced.”
Ernst, 29, of Rockford, said he designed the drink less than two years ago to be served at a lake house party hosted by Rockford native and famed fashion designer Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of the Louis Vuitton menswear collection.
“He raved about it to some people down here to try it, so I had to put it on the menu,” Ernst said.
Ernst’s impressive mixology skills may have put him on the US Bartender’s Guild’s radar, but it’s his attention to detail and personality that have won over Rockford fans.
Angela and Tad Olson of Stillman Valley are regular customers of Ernst.
“He can be so creative, and I think that is what sets the bar high for him,” said Angela Olson.
Olson and her husband, Tad, are regulars at Abreo Restaurant where Ernst is known for his knowledge of flavor profiles and what his customers like.
“He knows what I like. He knows what my husband likes. He knows what our three adult children like,” she said. “Off the cuff, he can come up with a new drink. It’s so impressive.”
Abreo owner Paul Sletten said his staff has freedom to be creative and is not surprised by the recognition Ernst has garnered.
“It’s his attention to detail and his dedication to the craft,” Sletten said.
Next month, the USBG will announce its top 30 bartenders enroute to naming its 2023 US World Class Bartender of the year.
Chris Green: 815-987-1241; [email protected]; @chrisfgreen
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