Thirsty Thursday: Fun With Finlandia Vodka & Courtney Lane at South Beach Seafood Festival
South Beach Seafood Festival was this past weekend! It’s the 6th year of the festival celebrating all things seafood. On the sands of South Beach’s Lummus Park we feasted in pop up cafes from Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant, Naked Taco, Red, the Steakhouse - South Beach, The Lobster SHACK, Poseidon Greek Restaurant & Outdoor Lounge, Truluck's, Lobster Bar Sea Grille Miami Beach, Stiltsville Fish Bar. There’s five blocks of food and fun!
But let’s talk about the good stuff —
The cocktails were included in the price of the ticket! This year Finlandia vodka brought out some of Miami’s best bartenders to show off a little of their flair and cocktail making skills.
We sat down with each of the featured bartenders to learn a little more about them and what we can expect to find them making at South Beach Seafood Festival 2018.
Today’s feature — Courtney Lane:
Courtney Lane grew up in Gainesville, Florida where she got her start in bartending while in college as a chance to make some extra cash, but it wasn’t long before she fell in love with the craft and decided to dedicate her life to it. She quickly went from serving simple drinks like vodka sodas to creating complex craft cocktails. This Miami (star)tender can be found at Employees Only (where she was the first female in the company to reach white coat status) and 27 Restaurant. Don’t be surprised if you order something bartender’s choice and find it made with elderflower, because Courtney Lane is also Miami’s St-Germain Brand Ambassador.
Did you know she also won the Bartender Battle at Chef Showdown 2016 as part of South Beach Seafood Festival? It was her first ever competition and she loved every second of it. She recounts the event as something she really wanted to do and even already prepped her round two drinks because she was manifesting the win. Since then she’s participated in plenty more competitions and even got the chance to represent the Broken Shaker family at London Cocktail Week last month. She even helped create a Broken Shaker popup bar in London for the conference. This weekend you’ll find her making Finlandia drinks on the sand — it’s no wonder she loves this profession so much!
How did you get your start in bartending?
I got my start in Gainesville, FL. It’s my hometown! There’s a whole lot of people eager to drink, so being someone who was serving the drinks was a great way to put some extra money in my pocket. I didn’t start bartending on a craft level until I moved down to Coral Springs with my now fiance. That’s when I started a more craft mixology job at Craft Social Club. From there I helped open Baby Jane and was the creative lead at Wynwood Diner — that’s where Employee’s Only scouted me. I started working at Employee’s Only and a few months later I also joined the Broken Shaker team, upstairs at 27 Restaurant.
What’s your favorite part about being behind the bar?
I love being behind the bar because it’s my chance to temporarily connect with my guests and to look them in the eye and make sure they are getting something they want that they’ll love. I always tease that if they don’t like it, I’ll drink it! But it really is a great time when you’re able to truly serve someone and give them a good experience, rather than just hand them a cocktail.
What’s your favorite way to serve Finlandia vodka?
I’ve been drinking Finlandia forever! It’s something that you’d find in my wet bar growing up and one of the first vodkas in my well when I started bartending. It’s a great vodka that can be served in many different ways — from a simple vodka soda or vodka cranberry or blended into a masterful craft cocktail.
Any personal favorite cocktail?
My go to refreshing drink made with Finlandia would be lavender simple syrup, fresh pressed cucumber juice, lemon juice, and Finlandia swizzled and topped with a little bit of soda water.
Fun fact about you:
A fun fact about myself, I don’t know if it’s fun but I’ve been a vegetarian (really more of a pescatarian) for the last 13 years. I think a more fun fact is I have a cat named Doobie and she has 17 front toes!
Make sure to grab your South Beach Seafood Festival tickets! We’d love to see you on the sand with a Finlandia vodka drink in your hand! Use our code: FINLANDIA20 for 20% off you tickets. Did we mention all alcohol is included in the price of the ticket? It’s a great deal!
Thanks Anthony Nader of @52chefs for always capturing our favorite Miami bartenders!