Thanks to Jonas Koep, craft cocktails are taking over the bar at The Loft.
The mixologist — a New Jersey native who moved to Tahoe in May 2017 — started his role at the Heavenly Village-based restaurant and lounge back in November, bringing with him an all-new vision for handcrafted libations.
Since entering the industry in the mid-2000s and discovering a passion for creating unique cocktails, Koep has participated in a variety of cocktail contests and taken home a few titles.
"I realized pretty much anything in the kitchen you can do behind the bar — only you need to figure out how to do it with liquids instead of food," he said.
Now he's implemented a nine-part drink menu at The Loft within the past month — and it includes fresh herbs and infusions.
"The first [part] is Medicinals. There are three of those, and each has certain ingredients that have medicinal qualities, whether it's bitters, some type of herb — but they're all medicinal qualities," said Koep.
"I have another section called Resurrections. Those are old style cocktails meant to revive you from a long night of drinking. These have things that tantalize the palate and get the juices flowing, so to speak. Not a Red Bull and vodka, but internally and not just from a flavor profile perspective."
Other categories include Stimulants — which feature ingredients "stimulating to the senses" (like red beet-infused gin and pineapple honey), according to Koep — and Barrel Aged, Milk Punches and Winter Warmers.
"An interesting category is Room Temp. Essentially it's different types of alcohol and citrus mixed together, but we don't use any ice. There's no shaking or stirring — it's basically building the cocktail in a glass, stirring it with a bar spoon and serving it at room temperature.
"You need something with a cooling effect, whether it's mint or this wonderful peach liqueur I use to cool from the harshness of it being four ounces of all booze. The ideology is to use old types of drinks and put modern twists on them," explained Koep.
But don't expect the current menu, comprised of 21 drinks, to remain long — Koep already has plans to swap out the featured cocktails in approximately one month to make room for lighter offerings in spring and summer.
The Loft is located at 1001 Heavenly Village Way and opens daily at 4 p.m. Learn more online at http://www.thelofttahoe.com.