Adrienne Akers

Adrienne Akers, Bartender

PPNVAdrienneAkersAdrienne Akers’ affection for Mezcal has led to a lot of experimentation, and led her to appreciate another cactus extract — sweet, tangy magenta-colored The Perfect Purée Prickly Pear Puree.

“I fell in love with Mezcal a year or two ago and became a little obsessed with finding flavors to complement the smoky quality,” says Adrienne. “I’ve discovered I absolutely love Prickly Pear Puree. The level sweetness brings the cocktail a bold balance of flavor.”

Adrienne is a bartender at the Newport Grill in Wichita, the largest city in Kansas. Inspired by the fresh flavors of Southern California, The Newport Grill bills itself as an “ocean-side oasis” in Wichita. Akers has been bartending since she turned 21, eight years ago, and credits her interest in mixology to encouragement from the talented and knowledgeable bartenders she’s worked with.

At the Newport Grill, she enjoys creating seasonal cocktails to tantalize guests and enhance the restaurant’s emphasis on Pacific-centric fresh seafood. Mezcal, which is distilled from a form of agave called maguey, has a stronger, smokier flavor than tequila. When Adrienne paired it with prickly pear at home, she worried it wouldn’t translate to the restaurant’s drink menu because prickly pears are hard to find in Kansas. They’re also hard to work with because their skin is covered with tiny, hair-like thorns. “The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley was a blessing,” Adrienne says. “They allow me to turn a drink concept into a menu item rather than limiting us to a one-day specialty item.”

Her favorite creation so far is a drink she named Smokey Desert Heat Vol. 1, which along with Mezcal and Prickly Pear contains a spicy lemon drinking vinegar. Adrienne stocks the walk-in with other Perfect Purée flavors for her cocktail program. The Perfect Purée Strawberry Puree features frequently in margaritas as well as an accent in dessert specials. “We generally keep three flavors in house,” she says. “We pride ourselves on the quality of our ingredients, and The Perfect Purée delivers every time.”

Recipes by Adrienne Akers

Smokey Desert Heat Vol. 1