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Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen Introduces New Mixologist

Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen, the Michelin Recommended restaurant at the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress, has introduced Kat Gallardo as its new mixologist to lead the restaurant’s innovative beverage program. She will be responsible for curating the signature cocktail menu drawing inspiration from local Florida ingredients and other tropical flavors that drive the restaurant’s theme.

Drawing upon her more than a decade of experience, Gallardo is already developing new cocktails to pair perfectly with dishes from the Four Flamingos kitchen. A common ingredient guests can expect to find in her creations is citrus, which complements most spirits. She says cocktails should be fun and taste great – a balance Four Flamingos prides itself on.

“Four Flamingos’ dinner menu is the most impeccable menu I have ever worked with,” Gallardo said. “The goal is the dinner menu and the cocktail menu working harmoniously together like a symphony.”

Gallardo joins an award-winning team, consistently recognized for its excellence in food, service and cocktails with titles of “best seafood in Orlando” and “hottest restaurant in Orlando.”

Gallardo graduated from the University of Central Florida in 2016 and earned her certification in Hospitality & Tourism Management in 2020.

Tasty Chomps Q&A from Kat Gallardo, mixologist at Four Flamingos: A Richard Blais Florida Kitchen

Ricky Ly: What inspired you to become a mixologist?

Kat Gallardo: Throughout my career in hospitality, I found my passion behind the bar. Experimenting and playing around with the different ingredients created a fun atmosphere. What really won me over was the history of spirits and how they were used for medicinal purposes before any other application.

Learning about the process of distilling, the history of how this spirit came about or why this glass is shaped the way it is – it all serves a purpose and there’s so much to learn.

Can you tell me about your favorite Four Flamingos cocktail creation and what makes it unique?

That’s a hard one, it’s like choosing a favorite child! I’ll have to give credit to the first cocktail I made that we added to the menu, which is the Flamingo Barraquito.

It’s a dessert cocktail with layers comprised of condensed milk, Licor 43, espresso and topped with our house-made coconut foam and smoked sea salt.

What makes the cocktail unique is the guest can control the sweetness by how much they mix in the bottom layer of the condensed milk, providing an individualized experience.

How do you approach the process of creating new and innovative cocktails?

I ask myself questions like: What produce is in season? What liquor are we replacing on the menu? How can I make this unique? Then, my favorite part of the process is the recipe development because you never know what’s going to work until you try it!

Involving the team during the process has been so much fun. Receiving their personal and professional feedback is so important, I couldn’t ask for a better scenario.

Can you share any tips or techniques for home bartenders looking to improve their cocktail-making skills?

I highlight recommend making your own infusions and liqueurs! It may seem daunting but the process of infusing is so easy that anyone could do it. Look up classic combinations or experiment and get weird on your own.

Just takes a bottle of base spirit, pack of fruit/herbs and some time. It makes for a pretty great gift as well!

What are some emerging trends or popular flavors you’ve noticed in the cocktail industry recently?

The clarified milk punch has made a resurgence, and I am here for it! Clarification dates all the way back to the 1700s and there’s even a recipe written by Benjamin Franklin. Clarified milk punch is essentially making any cocktail clear by removing the color and cloudiness.

Take your base cocktail – by adding milk, the proteins will coagulate and form curds. While the cocktail is getting strained, the curdled milk will act as a filtration system, resulting in a clear cocktail. The process sounds weird but it works and it’s really cool! Not only does it make the drink clear, but it gives the smoothest finish to any cocktail.

For anyone who could never enjoy a Negroni, try this method. It removes the harsh, bitter and medicinal notes through the clarification process.

Are there any classic cocktail recipes that you believe every aspiring mixologist should master?

If there is one cocktail anyone should master, it has to be the Old Fashioned. As classic as it is controversial, there are an endless number of variations and opinions on the matter. I’ll never forget one of the first Old Fashioneds I ever made that got denied and returned immediately.

The drink never made it in his hand once I put a splash of club soda in it, completely ruining the cocktail. Embarrassing to say the least, but I can say after all these years, I haven’t had an old fashioned returned since.

Can you share any stories or anecdotes from your experience as a mixologist that have stood out to you?

One of my favorite parts of my position is creating that unique and whimsical experience for the guest. There are times where the cocktails on the menu aren’t to their liking or there’s an allergy restriction or even someone who just wants to be at the bar and order a mocktail.

I love creating something new and on-the-spot just for them, and in turn, the guest feels special. I want my bar to have a welcoming energy where people aren’t afraid to ask what they want.

Do you have any signature cocktails that have become customer favorites?

One of the newest additions, Summer Thyme, is showing to be a fan favorite! It’s selling just as well as the original staples and the guests absolutely love it. Summer Thyme is the perfect summer cocktail, light and refreshing with strawberry infused vodka, limoncello made in-house and a hint of thyme. It brings me back when I was a kid, eating those strawberry Italian ice in the little white cup with the wooden spoon!

Visit Four Flamingos soon to try these fantastic cocktails by Kat and the team.

Thank you Kat for chatting with us!! PS GO KNIGHTS!

About Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress

The award-winning 1,500-acre Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is located adjacent to Walt Disney World and close to Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando with a host of amenities and activities, including a full-service Marilyn Monroe Spa and Jack Nicklaus-designed golf. Located along the 1,000 feet of white sandy beach of the private Lake Windsong, the free-flowing lagoon pool boasts 12 waterfalls, two whirlpools, water slide tower pavilion, children’s rock-climbing stations, interactive water jet splash zone, walking paths and expansive, wrap-around sundecks. These features complement the resort’s favorite activities, including a s’mores pit, beach volleyball, tether ball, watersports and marked jogging, walking and biking trails.

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