Celebrate the Year of Vonnegut in Indy with 11 cocktails concocted by the city’s top mixologists. For 11 weeks, you’ll have the opportunity to try these Vonnegut-inspired cocktails.
For each drink, I sat down to catch up with the bartender who crafted it, asking him or her a series of questions about what inspired the drink. This week is a Q&A with Brian Brissart with Thunderbird.
Where to Get It: Thunderbird
Who Created It: Joshua Gonzalez (not pictured)
Q: Can you give me some background on yourself? How long have you been in the food and drink industry?
A: About two years ago when I moved back here from Chicago. I started working at Thunderbird as a busser. Then, out of necessity, they were like, “Brian do you want to bar-back?” And I said, “Yeah, I’d love to.” I slowly developed a snow-balling passion for cocktails and spirits. It was a pretty seamless transition. I never really thought of myself as being in the service industry. It just kind of came to fruition.
Q: What drew you to work at Thunderbird?
A: When I moved back, I was actually working construction, which was the worst job ever. If you see me, you don’t really think of a construction worker (laughs). Eventually, Thunderbird started giving me more hours, and I just became enamored by everything behind the bar.
Q: With this being a themed drink, do you guys have a lot of other themed drinks as well?
A: Yeah. As a matter of fact, every cocktail menu, at least for the past year-and-a-half, has always been themed. A lot of them have been film genres. Like, we’ve done grindhouse films and horror films. We did action movies. We also did wrestling. But essentially, it’s been film genres for the past year or so.
Q: And does Joshua Gonzalez come up with those?
A: It’s usually a group effort.
Q: What would you say you’re all about at Thunderbird?
A: We’re mostly known for our cocktails. We have excellent cuisine. But, it’s mostly just about hospitality and the experience as a whole, I suppose. We’re known for our extensive bourbon list. We have an incredibly knowledgable staff on spirits, cocktails, beer and wine. At the moment, we only have three bartenders that rotate. Most other bars typically have six to 10. So it’s a pretty tightly knit network that we have here. Everybody that’s here has worked here for almost a year or more. It’s a small little family.
Q: Tell me about your Vonnegut themed drink, and what all it consists of.
A: It’s called the Galápagos. It consists of freshly squeezed lime juice and freshly squeezed pineapple juice. It also has a celery root syrup that we make in house and a spiced honey syrup that we also make in house. And then, three different styles of rum, a little bit of mint, a little bit of lemon extract to give it the fire at the top, and that’s pretty much it.