Creating Fall Cocktails with Belinda Chang and Julie Hillebrand at J&G

J&G--Julie H.jpg
Courtesy of J&G Steakhouse
Julie Hillebrand behind the bar at J&G
Ever wonder how new cocktails are created? On a recent Friday afternoon, I found out at J&G Steakhouse, where Belinda Chang, the six-month-new beverage director for Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group (a company in partnership with Starwood Hotels that uses menus created by Jean-Georges Vongerichten) had flown into town to shake and stir it up with J&G barkeep Julie Hillebrand. The goal? To create a handful of new cocktails that would deliciously reflect the fall season.

See also:
-- Julie Hillebrand at J&G Steakhouse
-- Moscow Mule: Simple Summer Cocktail, Rich History

I was invited to sip cocktails and chime in on what I liked and what I didn't, which sounded like a perfect Friday afternoon activity, especially since I could call it working.

Besides, I was eager to meet Chang, a heavy hitter in the wine world whose resume includes stints at Charlie Trotter's, Fifth Floor and The Modern, where she helped her team win a James Beard Award for Outstanding Wine Service in 2011.

Clearly, teamwork is Chang's MO. "I don't want to do this top-down," she says, pointing out that she will be visiting J&G three or four times a year to work on the wine list, the cellar and the bar program, which she plans to tackle in collaboration with Hillebrand.

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Courtesy of J&G Steakhouse
Apparently, Hillebrand is always running to J&G's kitchen to snag interesting ingredients such as lemongrass for her cocktails. Her culinary approach (not to mention her palate) have not gone unnoticed by Chang, who says that although "stand-alone bars are the temples of mixology," at the moment, "restaurant bars could and should be better," given all the kitchen ingredients at the bartender's disposal.

On this particular afternoon, the bar-top at J&G is loaded with bottled beers, citrus, apples, pears, spices, fresh herbs, house-made bitters and bar gadgets -- pretty much everything we need to get started.

Location Info

J&G Steakhouse

6000 E. Camelback Road, Scottsdale, AZ

Category: Restaurant


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2 comments
Sumosommelier
Sumosommelier

Julie Hillenbrand is a bartender extraordinaire and a hottie boom bam Lottie!

Sumosommelier
Sumosommelier

Julie Hillenbrand is a bartender extraordinaire and a hottie boom bam Lottie

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