Ca’Llucchenzo is a traditional Italian restaurant in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, located just west of Milwaukee. They’re known for their incredible fresh pasta, wine and amari. Co-owner Sarah Baker manages the front-of-house, hand-picking each wine and overseeing the drink menus, which include a curated menu of full-proof, low-proof, and no-proof cocktails.
Watch our live Highballs at High Noon session with Ca’Lucchenzo’s Sarah Baker on Instagram to learn a bit about Italian amari, homemade shrubs and the art of making zero-proof cocktails at home!
Q: What was it that first got you into zero-proof cocktails?
Sarah Baker: There are a lot of people who for whatever reason don't want to drink alcohol and are put in uncomfortable or awkward situations when dining out. Offering an option that looks like a cocktail but doesn't contain alcohol allows the person to avoid conversations they don't want to have. I'm a big fan of the Alinea group out of Chicago, they do some amazing things with n/a cocktails that are truly inspiring.
Q: What new cocktail (zero-proof and otherwise) discoveries are you exploring right now?
SB: I really like using fresh juices and tea infusions.
Q: Why do you think people at home might be intimidated by making zero-proof cocktails?
SB: For the same reasons they may be intimidated to try full-proof cocktails. Most people have probably been exposed to overly sweet versions and may just have an aversion to that or are unsure where to find ingredients. It can also be frustrating to buy items and spend time infusing/making things then have them not turn out how you expected.
Q: What are some of your favorite zero-proof cocktails to make at home?
SB: Tea-infused simple syrups with Top Note mixers. Right now I'm really feeling the Elderberry Healer Rishi tea, so I make a simple syrup and add that to the Top Note Bitter Lemon. It's so refreshing and delicious.
Q: What do you take to a party?
SB: I love the Top Note Bitter Lemon, but really any Top Note product is a great addition to any party. They are great to drink on their own or as mixers.
Q: Where do you think the cocktail and bar industry is headed?
SB: There are so many local options now: just as we’ve gotten to know our farmers, it’s now possible to know our distillers and other beverage producers. People want to know where their food/beverage comes from. The personal/emotional connection is something I think we are all missing right now.
Q: What has the pandemic taught you?
SB: That it's important to take a step back every once in a while to assess. It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and you can find yourself down a road you didn't necessarily choose if you don't take the time to be mindful and deliberate.
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