Dan Oskey has been featured in local media, recognized by City Pages as the area's Best Bartender, and reigned behind the bar of St. Paul's Strip Club Meat & Fish since the day they opened. Nowadays his work can also be found on the shelves of metro area grocers in the form of Joia Soda, a new all-natural fizzy drink featuring craft flavors like lime, hibiscus, and clove.
Yesterday we spoke with Dan about how he went from studying physics to defying them in the drink form inside this cozy neighborhood restaurant. (Read Part 1 here.) Today we speak with him about how one goes about getting into the pop industry, how not to make a Tom Collins and how a novice might dip a toe into the aromatic pool of mixology.
How did you get involved with Joia Soda?
I got a call last summer from Bob Safford, he got my number from our shared hairdresser. He heard that I had been making some syrups and sodas. After Labor Day 2010 we sampled well over 120 different syrups. One of the first we made was the lime hibiscus flavor. We lined up a bunch of other sodas like Izze's and Stewart's and did a blind taste and found that ours was really good and different. Then we were thinking, we could really do this! This could work. This is better than what's out there. (Laughs) Now we have to go find some money!
So right now Joia is only available locally, right?
Yes, that's right, for now. We are looking at other markets, and we will be expanding. There will be more flavors, too. Last night at work I was making drinks with them, trying different things that people might not have at home, like a blueberry-infused gin. So good.
When you're actually at home and enjoying a little couch time, what's your drink of choice?
Yeah, a lot of ales, Summit IPA, Bell's Two Hearted or white wine. I really like white wine.
What's your favorite restaurant, other than the Strip? Where do you take your girlfriend out for date night?
Well, it was the Inn, not to be too cheesy, but it was. Um, I guess Buster's because it's near where we live. I think our favorite place to go is actually the Hola Arepa truck that Birk and his lady run. Their breakfast arepa is amazing. They serve them at the Uptown Farmer's Market on Sundays.
For amateurs at home, what would you suggest as a first foray into the world of craft cocktails?
Syrups. Simple syrups are so easy, just 1:1 sugar and water. You can infuse it with anything like rosemary, herbs. Any infusions. Or tonic. Really, the tonic is easy to make. You just have to order the bark online.
Oh sure, that sounds totally, way easy.
It is! Just think of it like cooking. It's all about building flavors--and having fun. What's the worst that can happen? It sucks. So what?
What was the first mixed drink you ever had?
Oh, god. ... My friends and I thought we were making Tom Collinses. We called them Tom Collins, mixing gin--Bombay Saphire--we were so ...(cringes) Gin, grenadine, lemonade and 7Up. Ugh, the last thing you want to put in good gin is Rose's grenadine. You just shouldn't do that.