Valentine’s Day is coming up, and Dabble and Project Fixup have teamed up again for a singles mixer that’s factual, flavorful and fun! Wednesday, February 4, Hollow Leg’s Devin Kidner– a top-rated Dabble teacher and national Slow Food USA and Ark of Taste competition winner– will be at hand to introduce you to one of our favorite spirits. Give whiskey a whirl with a tasting and meet like-minded singles with the help of Project Fixup! You’ll leave the night with a goodie bag of craft cocktail recipes– and maybe a few phone numbers to boot. Ladies and gents who sign up will receive a questionnaire from Project Fix-up to ensure that they meet their match.
Devin Kidner is bubbly and friendly: the perfect host to break the ice. I had the chance to ask her a few questions about her start in craft cocktails, her cocktail education center Hollow Leg, and her affinity for “frozen hot chocolate cocktails.” YUM.

IMG_82261) When and how did you get your start in crafting cocktails? Do you remember the first drink you ever made? My professional career, started in 2014 after I gained national attention for winning Slow Food USA and Ark of Taste’s national cocktail competition. I created a drink with Oriana’s Oriental Orchard’s pawpaws which are tropical-tasting despite being native to the Midwest! It was an honour to win and I was thrilled to represent the U.S. in Italy for the international Terra Madre conference that was held in Torino, Italy.

2) What is your favorite part of teaching the ins and outs of scotch and whiskey? Whiskey tastings are about a whole lot more than just sipping on delicious liquor. It’s about the nuances behind the flavours and the story each whiskey tells. Much like wine, whiskeys have distinctive aromas, textures, chemical reactions, and flavours. They can be sweet and delicate, bold and smoky, or smooth and mellow. I think everyone can find a whiskey they like, and I love seeing people discover a new whiskey they’d never thought of trying, or fall in love with whiskey when they had previously been opposed to it.

3) Do you have a favorite drink? If I want something classic and simple, I like a good gin + tonic with local gin (think KOVAL’s new gin), housemade tonic, and a squeeze of lime. My favourite cocktails, however, are the ones I make at home. Why? Because I get to tailor the cocktails to my palate and test out new creations with locally sourced ingredients. I’m on a chocolate kick right now and am batching up a bunch of frozen hot chocolate cocktails (featuring Kilgus Farmstead milk) mixed with Michigan cherry juice, oaked grappa from Rhine Hall, Chicago Distilling Company’s Ceres vodka, and shaken to perfection with a Meadow Haven egg white. (Pictured above)

4) What gave you the confidence to pursue your passion head-on and make it your career? In 2013 I realized that the things I love the most — public speaking, food and drink, and interacting with people — could be combined to create a career that capitalised on my skills and passions. I wrote down on a napkin one day everything that I loved and all of my strengths and vowed to create something that would both fulfill me emotionally and sustain me financially. After that, I embraced the shared economy as a jumping off point: It was low risk and built up my audience and I loved “polling the audience” for feedback so my classes and workshops could be the best they could be. Just over a year later and I’m thanking my 2013 self for taking my passions seriously and going big: It’s been so satisfying!

RH012115-62 5) What’s the difference between a good drink and a great drink? A good drink tastes/smells good and looks good. A great drink tastes/smells good, looks good, has an interesting story behind it, and connects you with the community who made the drink possible. I love drinks in which I can trace every ingredient to its source and tell folks, “All of this came from a local/small farm/business. By drinking this drink you’re supporting the community and becoming a part of its interesting story.” Who doesn’t want to drink something unusual and made from the best ingredients possible?

 6) What has your experience with Dabble been like? Any favorite moments from past class come to mind? Dabble is incredible. There is absolutely no better way to experience a variety of activities and hobbies and discover hidden talents and new interests. My favourite moments come from seeing a group of strangers bonding over something as simple and delightful as butter making or bitters making; To see people get excited about things you’re passionate about and then ask for more classes!

7) What other programs does Hollow Leg offer that our readers should know about? HOLLOW LEG is expanding so rapidly! We offer classes in bitters-making, syrups, cocktail design, beer cocktails, and drinks classes from tea to non-alcoholic and low-proof cocktails. And of course, our focus is always on local, sustainable products and supporting the small farms and businesses that are revolutionising the way we drink! At HOLLOW LEG we are dedicated to instilling folks with the know-how and confidence to make great alcoholic drinks, and use a hands-on approach while underscoring the importance of the science behind what you’re consuming. You’ll walk away from our events feeling inspired, energized, and ready to create!

8) Any last things you’d like our Dabblers to know about? Get out there and dabble! Discover something new about yourself! Meet new people! And of course, attend one of my classes ;o)


Special thanks to Brett Calomino for the amazing photos!