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Three-Drink Minimum: Bartending With Dorothy Elizabeth

In "Three-Drink Minimum," we take a look at the drink-making style of some of our favorite bartenders, in three cocktails. Up now, Detroit's Dorothy Elizabeth with a variation on the Last Word and the ultimate combination of rye and amaro.

With a background in science and a natural inclination to tinker, Dorothy Elizabeth’s skill set is a natural fit for the world of drink-making. As a bartender at Detroit’s Standby, she puts centrifuges, vacuum chambers and liquid nitrogen (and her chemistry degree) to good use in making innovative, technique-driven drinks.

Formerly principal bartender at the now-shuttered Ann Arbor restaurant and cocktail bar, Vellum, Elizabeth entered Detroit’s drink scene in 2015 as part of the beverage team at Republic. Before long, she was tapped by Standby beverage director, Joe Robinson. There, owing to her creativity and early accomplishments, Elizabeth was named one of Eater’s Young Guns one year later and has been racking up accolades ever since.

Here, the fast-rising Detroit bartender highlights three drinks that define her style.

Capitol Park

“Rye and amaro is a combination that rivals peanut butter and jelly in my book. I love how the spice backbone of the whiskey plays so eloquently with the sweet-bitter of alpine digestifs. I spent a summer attempting to try every whiskey and amaro combination I could lay my hands on. I barely scratched the surface of endless possibilities before I found my favorite: Woodford rye and Cardamaro. Simply, love at first sight. The Capitol Park is one of my favorite cocktails, and it harnesses my love for whiskey and everything Italian (sue me, I lived in Jersey).”

Dorothy Elizabeth Standby Detroit

From left to right: The VG GF AF, Dorothy Elizabeth and the Read, No Reply.

Read, No Reply

“Do I love the Last Word? Do I love Champagne? Yes, and yes… Read, No Reply is my modified Last Word. I (or any millennial for that matter) don’t bother with the ‘last word’ in a conversation; I simply never respond. You see, I read the text, but I must’ve been too busy pretending to knit or Instagram-ing my lunch. It’s a hilarious concept, and the cocktail fits me… Dry, biting, unforgiving and effervescent. If only I could bottle sarcasm and float it on top.”


“The ‘VG GF AF’ is my penultimate pseudo-healthy creation. It marries mezcal with spicy ginger and habanero, the arugula makes it bright and bitter [and] the drink is shaken with fresh bell peppers. It’s green, citrusy and spicy—a liquid salad that packs a punch. Better yet, the ‘VG GF AF’ is a knock-off: this is two of my mentor’s drinks mashed together with some mezcal. [Editor’s note: That would be Robinson’s Tick of the Clock, with tequila, lime, ginger and Angostura, and his Yoga Girl, with bell pepper-infused tequila, arugula and cucumber soda.] At Standby, we love stealing another ‘Standboy’s’ cocktail and repurposing it into something entirely new. It’s the name of the game of cocktails: find inspiration, tweak it, then put your name on it. As Pablo Picasso once said, ‘Good artists borrow; great artists steal.’”

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