by Mimi Montgomery
photographs by Kelsey Hanrahan
David and Lily Ballance have been in the local restaurant and bar scene for over 20 years. Their resume is peppered with familiar names like Five Star and White Collar Crime, and they helped to open the downtown eatery Calavera.
Last May, the Ballances opened their newest venture, William & Co., a cozy cocktail bar on Person St. with a cantina-meets-speakeasy vibe. The space was originally home to a pop-up ice cream shop, which Lily says she “stalked” while pregnant to fulfill her ice cream cravings.
When the lease for the spot became available, the couple jumped on it. Lily says she immediately knew she wanted to create an intimate space that reflected the bar-scene culture of her hometown, Mexico City, which is filled with “very tiny, small places that have really fresh drinks.”
William & Co. delivers, offering up concoctions made with fresh-squeezed fruit juices, the light fruity drinks known as aguas frescas, and produce from nearby farmers markets. The bar doesn’t have a printed menu – offerings change daily depending on what the Ballances find locally and in-season. But those in the know are sure to ask for an order of tamales with their drink. These “bangin’” cult favorites are handmade by an expert from Oaxaca. Trust us: You’ll probably want to go ahead and order two.
This month, the William & Co. crew came up with a special drink for Walter, something just right for a Valentine toast. Lily calls it the perfect cocktail: not too sweet, not too dry, with just the right balance of sparkling wine, crisp citrus, and green tea gin. It’s a boozy drink that’s easy to sip and to make. Root around in your pantry for some green tea, take a dip into the liquor cabinet, and you have all the makings for a very good cocktail.
Green Tea Gin Champagne Fizz
1 ounce green-tea-infused gin*
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1 ounce Dolin Blanc Vermouth
Splash of simple syrup
Sparkling beverage (champagne, prosecco, or cava)
Lemon twist for garnish
Mix green tea gin*, fresh lemon juice, vermouth, and simple syrup. Shake and strain inside a champagne flute. Fill the rest of the glass with your choice of sparkling beverage. Garnish with a lemon twist.
*Green tea gin:
Pour one 750 ml bottle of gin in a pitcher with 5-6 green tea bags.
Let tea bags sit and infuse for about an hour.