BARTENDER FEATURE: JUNIPER’S MICHELE PREVOST
blog | 5/8/2018
Meet Michele Prevost, owner of Juniper: Bar + Market + Bistro in downtown Cody, Wyoming. Juniper is a retail wine and spirits store, as well as a small-plate eatery and cocktail lounge, well-known for the Juniper Old Fashioned, originally handcrafted by Michele herself.
We took a mellow moment to sit down with Michele, over Bourbon, and got to know a little bit more about her job and how Juniper got started.
Can you tell us about the history of Juniper? How did it all begin?
Juniper began as a small, home-based event planning business in 2004 when I left Los Angeles and a career in fashion merchandising for the wilds of Wyoming. My passion for creating memorable food and beverage experiences for my clients led me to open a boutique wine and spirits shop with a tiny tasting room in an off-the-beaten path location outside of downtown Cody in 2008.
That first location was funky, bohemian and something that locals and intrepid tourists felt like they could discover as a place to sample our ever-growing whiskey, wine and craft product assortment. In those years, we built a loyal following by offering a great experience for tasting and shopping. In 2014, we moved to a prime location in the heart of downtown Cody and added a food program.
What do you think makes Juniper special?
Juniper is like a big city neighborhood bar set in a small town. The population of Cody is only 10,000 people. With over 100 whiskies and a lovingly curated selection of local, regional and global spirits, we strive to offer our customers a delightful experience that is unexpected in such a remote spot. We are fortunate to have a loyal local clientele to support us year-round. Spring through fall, we meet tourists visiting Yellowstone National Park from all around the world. So, you never know who you will sit next to and strike up a conversation with.
Where or when did you find your passion to work behind a bar?
My childhood aspiration at age 7 was to be a cocktail waitress because I thought it was so glamorous. My parents had a good laugh about it. It just took me a while to get around to making it a reality and actually get behind the bar. I love to cook for friends, make and share great things to drink and create memories.
And what aspect of the job keeps you coming back?
People. I love leading a highly collaborative and creative staff. I have been fortunate to surround myself with so many talented and dedicated souls. On a more personal level, I love the puzzle of helping someone select the perfect wine or whiskey to pair with what they are eating. Or creating a new craft cocktail with the customer’s preferences in mind. Turning people on to all things delicious and making them happy makes me happy.
How do you typically like to enjoy Four Roses?
I’m a Bourbon neat girl in most cases. Four Roses Bourbon really sings in a cocktail, especially with the balance of ingredients in our Old Fashioned. Singe Barrel — always neat. In Spring of 2019 we will head to Kentucky to select our very own Four Roses Barrel for Juniper that is sure to become the new favorite to enjoy neat.
What advice would you give to someone who is relatively new to drinking Bourbon? Whether they are mixing cocktails at home or ordering out at a restaurant or bar?
Start with cocktails like an Old Fashioned or Whiskey Sour. Since they are based on simple ingredients, they allow the flavor of the base Bourbon to shine through. Both are easy for the home bartender to master. Asking to taste a Bourbon before committing to a whole pour or cocktail is a great way to discover new favorites. It also allows you to compare, contrast and really discover what you like. Some people love sweeter vanilla and caramel notes in highly wheated whiskeys, some like the complexity and spice of rye. Never be afraid to try something new.
If you could make a cocktail for anyone who would it be?
Anthony Bourdain. He has been to Montana, our neighbor to the North, but not our special part of Wyoming, the “real Yellowstone Country.” But only if we can sit down, have a drink (or multiple drinks) listen to punk rock songs and talk about food, drink and travel. I think he is a great storyteller.
Tell us about your Four Roses Old Fashioned.
Our Four Roses Old Fashioned in the anchor of our bar. We have sold so many we stopped counting after 5,000 in the first year. It is our most beloved menu item that keeps people coming back. It is a balanced, modern and approachable take on the classic.
The key is using two fantastic bitters that really bring balance and let Four Roses Bourbon be the star of the cocktail. We use Bittercube Bitters, slow crafted by Nick Kosevich and Ira Koplowitz in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters lend cocoa, almond and vanilla notes. Jamaica No. 1 lends allspice black pepper and ginger. With just a little simple syrup and the bright citrus of fresh orange, a real harmony is created. It’s simple and so tasty.
Juniper’s Old Fashioned
- 0.5 oz simple syrup
- 2 oz Four Roses Bourbon
- 3 drops Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla bitters
- 3 drops Bittercube Jamaica No. 1 bitters
- One large orange paddle
Build a large rocks glass with one large ice sphere. Add .5 ounces simple syrup, 2 ounces Four Roses Bourbon and bitters. Stir gently. Rim the glass with orange paddle, skin side down, and slip it in to one side of the ice sphere or lay atop on a cocktail pick.