Zachary Calfee has his pulse on a few good cocktails, people, and life. He’s known as a Master of Mixology (yes, a “MoM”) at Roost. If you’ve enjoyed a beverage from their custom cocktail menu, odds are he had a hand in creating it. With crazy names like the ‘Dragoon’, ‘Floral & Fading’, or the ever-popular ‘Rye, Felicia!’, Zachary is making a name for himself by combining unique ingredients to make incredible cocktails.
Zachary was just 18 and working at a restaurant in Tennessee when, on a short-staffed night, he was pulled into the bar to serve. They decided it didn’t go so badly, and sooner than later, he found his love of creating a patron experience. He went on to work at the Oliver Hotel, a classic cocktail spot in Knoxville. Then, he opened his own bar for a time being, before making the move to the Upstate.
In just two short years, Zachary has transformed the offerings at Roost from the ground up. They make their own fresh sour mix, a concoction of lemon, sugar, water, and egg whites. They offer house-made liquors and cordials such as Coconut rum, coffee liquor, and amaretto. There’s even a homemade Velvet Falernum… a classic tiki-drink standard, made with cloves, ginger, and allspice. These scratch-made ingredients are something that Zachary takes pride in. “There’s a lot of things that influence the quality of your drink. We want you to remember it for a long time.”
In the time I spent with Zachary, I could tell he’s the pivotal rock that keeps things steady. A server asks what liquor a customer prefers in their favorite drink. A fellow bartender asks for some coaching on making an authentic Sazerac. Another group of regulars asks about how he names his inventive creations. He’s beloved, and known for his passion that creates an experience. “Pleasant memories taste better” is one of his go-to statements. And he delivers. Zachary even offers “Roost Roulette” where he’ll create something that will be one-of-a-kind for your taste.
If I was at home at any bar, it would be here. The new Cheers with a modern twist….Where everyone knows your favorite drink, and maybe even before you do. Zachary has shared his recipe for ‘Chocobo’ with us. The funky name comes from a yellow chicken in a video game. And likewise, the drink is beautifully chartreuse in color, with a soft, silky texture. Zachary adds pineapple leaves to the edge of the glass for presentation, like bird feathers, before serving. Enjoy!
1 ½ oz kettle citron
½ oz. yellow chartreuse (80 proof)
½ oz. ginger honey syrup
1 oz. pineapple juice
¾ oz. fresh sour mix (lemon juice, hot water, sugar, and egg whites)
Splash of soda
Combine the first five ingredients and shake vigorously over ice. Add soda to glass, then double-strain into the soda.