Morgantown native Josh Graham got to know one of the founders of Tin 202, then the other, when he was tending bar at the former Yesterday’s Restaurant, Bar & Grill. He’d learned bar basics at Yesterday’s—mainly martinis—but he got a whole new level of training from the beverage director he worked under when Tin 202 opened in 2014. He became beverage director himself in 2015.
Graham likes the personal interaction of bartending. “I’m not going to lie, I also like to drink,” he says. “I don’t drink a lot every day, but I enjoy a well-made cocktail.” Mixing craft cocktails is an art, he says—or a chemistry lab. He’s invented quite a few for Tin 202’s menu.
His High and Pleasant, a tipsy play on Tin 202’s address, starts from a bourbon base, with the elderflower liqueur St. Germain, hopped grapefruit bitters, and lemon oil on top. “It’s served up in a chilled coupe glass, a nice sipping drink before dinner.” The Bogart—fresh espresso, sugar, bourbon, and egg whites—has a frothy texture. “It’s a nice end-of-the-night drink or a dessert drink to wake you up a little bit.”
What makes a great craft cocktail bartender? Multitasking, for one thing, Graham says. Precision—making sure Tin’s Old Fashioned tastes the same every single time. Creativity for inventing new cocktails. And, to be sure, a little bit of showmanship.
Visiting other cities, Graham likes to sit at bars and get ideas from skilled bartenders. He loved the New York speakeasy Attaboy, which has no menu. “You describe the thing—say you want a bourbon drink that’s bitter with no ice—and they just go and do their thing. You have to put trust in a person like that.” He invites everyone to take a seat at Tin’s bar and put a little trust in him. — PK