More than four years ago, Kevin Rogers made a big choice. After graduating from the University of Virginia and enrolling in at Georgetown University law school, he decided to pursue an interest in the hospitality industry: “I decided that I should earn a living by doing something that I actually enjoy, am passionate about, and am good at.”
With that impetus, Rogers jumped from studying for the bar exam to tending bars—first as a banquet bartender at a convention hotel, then working “behind the stick” at Indebleu. He finally landed at Urbana in July 2006 and has been shaking cocktails there ever since.
“I entered the bartending profession for two reasons,” he says. “To make great cocktails and learn the bar business from the ground up, with the goal of owning a series of bars.”
Rogers is still working on owning his own bars, but he’s been creating drinks for some time now. Though he’s been known to experiment with unusual ingredients such as Pop Rocks candy, the classics are Rogers’s first love.
“In general, I like my drinks to look, smell, and taste like, well, drinks,” he says, adding that classic cocktails have a special sense of history imbued in their process. “Knowing the stories makes the actual drinks so much more satisfying.”
Urbana boasts an extensive selection of wines—more than 200 different bottles, according to its Web site—so it’s no surprise that some of Rogers’s creations, like the Autumn Harvest, are often influenced by wine. For that drink, Rogers mixes apple cider and lime juice with grappa, a liqueur distilled from grape skins left over after being pressed for juice, and a sparkling grape juice made from Pinot Noir grapes. The result? You’ll just have to venture to Urbana to find out.
In the meantime, check out our video of Rogers concocting the Autumn Harvest above—and we’ve included the recipe so you can impress your friends at home.
Kevin Rogers, Urbana
7 red seedless grapes
4 mint leaves
1¼ ounces Jacopo Poli Merlot Grappa
1½ ounces apple cider
½ ounce simple syrup
½ ounce fresh lime juice
Semi-sparkling Pinot Noir grape juice