After his bar turned into a ’Bucks, Japhet Bower spent two years waiting for the right gig. Turns out La Carnita’s taco spot is the ideal home for his fresh, boozy drinks.
Cocktail: Who Shot Ya?
$10 at La Carnita (501 College St. #COL)
Japhet Bower is a patient guy. Ever since the hotel where he was working nixed its bar to make room for a Starbucks, forcing him out from behind the wood two years ago, he’s been waiting—on tables and for the right job to come up. Then along came La Carnita, which, after many successful taco-centric pop-ups, finally settled down and opened last week on College Street. And for Bower, who was hired from the outset, it finally looks like a perfect fit. La Carnita’s philosophy of fresh and simple marries well with Bower’s lifelong connection to exotic ingredients like ginger and hibiscus, both prominent in his refined tropical cocktail, Who Shot Ya?
“I get the hibiscus from my father,” Bower explains. “He’s from Trinidad, and I grew up drinking sorrel punch because we would take extended vacations on the islands.”
But Who Shot Ya? isn’t merely fresh and simple. It’s also a vibrant pink drink with a light, sweet flavour, a bit of spice, and a respectable two ounces of Bulleit Bourbon (hence the name—though, of course, it’s a nod to the Notorious B.I.G. song, too). There’s a very real possibility that the bourbon will surprise the drinker; this is a sneaky, deceptively boozy cocktail.
Bower is inspired by a true trifecta—his roots, his 10 years in the industry (he began bartending to pay for an OCAD degree in post-production, but discovered he was “too social” to work with computers), and a hidden gem of a cocktail book. That would be Charles H. Baker Jr.’s The Gentleman’s Companion, a mid-century guide inspired by the author’s pioneering alco-tourism.
“He’s not very popular with drinks purists, since some of the proportions need to be fixed,” says Bower. “But he’s a great writer. I love his bon-vivant, balls-to-the-wall, I’m-going-to-travel-around-the-world-and-have-adventures approach.”
Japhet Bower’s Who Shot Ya?
Bulleit bourbon + House-made hibiscus grenadine + Ginger syrup + Lemon juice + Grapefruit rind + Ice + An Old-Fashioned glass