Christine Wisniewski at Caffe Boa

Categories: Behind the Bar
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​Food and art are in many ways related. Both require imagination, a deft hand, and a willingness to step outside the norm. Though Christine Wisniewski claims she hasn't made much use of her degree in painting and drawing -- "It was either own a restaurant or be a starving artist," she says -- the array of artfully crafted savory, floral, and unique cocktails she creates at Caffe Boa says otherwise. 

She's served as part owner and bartender at Caffe Boa (398 S. Mill Ave., 480-968-9112) for nine years, continuing to update the drink menu with interesting tipples -- like an upcoming array of apothecary-style cocktails designed to improve your mood, give you energy, or make you horny. 

What's your approach to making a drink?
Acidity is key, as are sugar levels. I like to bring out the savory qualities in drinks. Hand-making syrups and bitters and introducing more of those old liquors from monasteries like chartreuse and absinthe, and just being creative and putting your own personality on it. I'm doing a little twist now with our new drink list. We're actually introducing some healing herbs into our drinks now. I've hired an herbalist to consult on drinks made to cure ailments or disorders or change your mood. It's an apothecary style of drink-making. We'll be making cocktails that can alter your mood or energy, or act as an aphrodisiac. We've got about four or five together right now.

Is this holistic approach carrying over into other parts of the restaurant?
I like to think holistically in food. I'm getting into natural wines, too. On this whole holistic approach, I've started to pour wines here that have no additives or preservatives or added sulfites, that are naturally grown and fermented with wild yeasts. I think that's going to be the whole approach of the bar now.

What do you drink when you're out?
I drink a lot of champagne, but if there's a mixologist or bartender I know is great, I'll let him or her make me whatever they want to make me. I put it in their hands.

What's your favorite thing about bartending?
I love the creativity involved with making a drink. Obviously, meeting and talking to people, meeting and collaborating with other bartenders.

What's the wildest thing you've seen behind the bar?
We actually had a couple who decided to have sex on a motorcycle outside the restaurant. They actually walked outside, sat on the bike and went for it. Half the restaurant was cheering and the other half was disgusted. We had to get the hose out for those two.

If you could have a drink with anyone, who would it be?
You know who was just in the restaurant? Stephen Hawking. He ate here the other night, and I missed him, but he's someone I'd love to meet and talk about his theorems. 


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