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Be Your Own Bartender: Cris Dehlavi dishes out the key to great at-home cocktails

Mitch Hooper



It’s during times like now that some normalcy is much needed. Sometimes, it’s the simple things in life that can serve as a reminder that not all is lost. And if that simple thing can also provide a buzz, that’s what we call a win-win.

However, amid all the quarantines and shut downs, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to find relics of a normal, non-coronavirus related society. Cris Dehlavi—head bartender at the M at Miranova, founder of the Columbus United States Bartenders Guild, and perennial winner of our Columbest Best Bartender Award—knows this sentiment all too well.

“Normally tonight I would be behind the bar at M at Miranova, where I have worked since the fall of 2002,” Dehlavi said. “I miss my regulars, my coworkers, and the stage in which I have been given the ability to let my
creativity flourish.” 

It’s times like these where we learn each other’s strengths and how we can help each other. And while we can’t stop in and visit Dehlavi for one of her award-winning-cocktails, we can try to take a few pages out of her playbook that she so graciously is sharing with us.

“You probably don’t realize it, but you likely have the ingredients you need right there in your cabinets,” she said. “Mixology is a lot like baking, and if you follow this simple recipe, you can make hundreds of variations.”   

The formula is as follows:

  • 2 parts spirit (whatever bottle of liquor you have, this will work!)
  • 1 part sweet (if you like it a little less sweet, drop this down to ¾ or even ½)
  • 1 part sour (always fresh juice, and this can be lemon, lime, grapefruit, sour orange.  This can also be dropped down a bit if you prefer your drink a bit more sweet and less tart. Be creative.)

This formula will open the door to better tasting drinks for at-home bartenders. Dehlavi said the key to your sweet element is simple syrup and that’s the crux of these cocktails. Just add equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan and heat on low until it’s all dissolved. Looking to change up the complexity of your simple syrup? Try out different sugars or sugar alternatives—white table sugar, brown sugar, agave, nectar, and maple syrup are all options. And if you want to take your syrup to the next level, infuse herbs, baking spices, or fruits to add extra flavor. 


So, are you ready to whip up a batch of cocktails and settle in for some Netflix and quarantine, or what? Here are some recipes you can add to your repertoire and rest easy knowing they are from a bartending expert.

Whiskey Sour

Love whiskey, but can’t handle the powerful flavors of it straight up? This whiskey sour provides the perfect amount of pucker to mask the whiskey without becoming an overly tart mess.

  • Two parts whiskey (*this also works great with bourbon, rye, Irish whiskey, or scotch)
  • One part simple syrup
  • One part fresh lemon juice

Tom Collins or Vodka Collins

These two options are great ways to use middle shelf liquor to save some money without sacrificing taste. This part is important, though: add the club soda in last once the drink has been shaken. If you shake with club soda in it, your at home bar will be hit like a tidal wave.

  • Two parts gin or vodka
  • One part simple syrup
  • One part fresh lemon
  • Splash of club soda

Gin or Vodka or Tequila Gimlet

The great thing about simple cocktails is the versatility you can get through similar ingredients. For this drink, swap out the fresh lemon juice for fresh lime juice and instead of a Tom/Vodka Collins, you’re sipping on a gimlet!

  • Two parts gin or tequila
  • One part simple syrup
  • One part fresh lime juice

Classic Daiquiri

If your travel plans have been put on hold, you’re in a category of folks who truly need a beach drink. While this classic daiquiri can’t take you to a sandy shore, it can at least trick your brain for a few blissful sips. *Drink umbrellas not included.

  • Two parts rum
  • One part simple syrup
  • One part fresh lime juice


While this drink requires one perishable ingredient—mint—its addition is worth it. The cool sensation mint provides to this cocktail is refreshing and perfect for those times cuddled up on the couch with your significant other. Again, add the club soda as the last step.

  • Two parts rum
  • One part simple syrup
  • One part fresh lime juice
  • Muddled mint leaves
  • Splash of club soda

millennial | writer | human

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Food & Drink

National Brisket Day is Tomorrow!

Julian Foglietti



Photo by Brian Kaiser

With meat shortages starting to take their toll and National Brisket Day around the corner here's a roundup of some spots you can go to to get your brisket fix.

Legacy Smoke House

With their main location in Hilliard and a food truck moving throughout the city, Legacy Smoke House is a solid choice for brisket on National Brisket Day, just be sure to get there while supplies last. Enjoy!

Pecan Pennys

Just off Main Street, Pecan Pennys is ready to fulfill your brisket needs. If your looking to feed a family though be sure to get your orders in advance as they're requesting 24 hours notice on dinner bundles.

Ray-Ray's Hog Pit

With locations in Franklinton, Westerville, Clintonville and Powell Ray Ray's Hog Pit is open for business with brisket stocked at all locations. #NationalBrisketDay is the best day!

Hoggy’s Restaurant and Catering

Located on Bethel Road, Hoggy’s will be stocking brisket for both dine-in or carryout. Feel free to stop in or stop by!

The Pit

With a new location opened up on Parsons Ave. The Pit BBQ will be offering brisket for the National day. Celebrate with some tasty brisket!

City Barbeque

City Barbeque will be offering brisket for the National day! So get excited and get ready for some yummy BBQ brisket!

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{UPDATED} Indoor Dining: what’s NOT opening?




Los Gauchos

PINS Mechanical Co.

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Hey Pinheads. We're so excited to hear that our world is beginning to reopen! Many of you have reached out asking about our opening plans so we wanted to provide a brief update on Pins Mechanical Co. While we fully trust and support the decisions of our local leaders, it’s our responsibility to ensure the health and safety of our team members and guests, while not sacrificing the experience that makes Pins, Pins! With that in mind, none of our locations will be opening in May. There are many unknowns with COVID-19 and we hope that taking this extra time will help our guests and teammates feel better about the measures we’ve put in place to keep all of us safe. For example, on top of our already stringent cleaning procedures, we’re installing UV technology at all locations (ensuring you always have clean balls to play with). We’re looking forward to welcoming back our kick-ass team to train and adjust to this new normal. Once our people feel comfortable + confident, we’ll know it’s time to get rollin’ again! Thank you for your incredible support, online sales, photo shares + kind words over the last two months. Even when you couldn’t show up, you showed up and we’ll never forget it! We’re hopeful that everyone will be safe and smart as we begin to reopen the doors to the small businesses that make our communities so special. See you soon, Pinheads!

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Old North Arcade

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Dear friends, . As you are most likely aware, Governor DeWine has permitted the reopening of bars and restaurants for dine-in seating effective 5/21. We are very grateful that our leadership is now offering businesses the choice to do what they think is right. We offer no judgment for the bars and restaurants that are/have chosen to open. However, for our particular business, and for our staff, we still think it's too early. We are going to remain closed this week and next but do hope to open soon. Your understanding and patience is greatly appreciated and we cannot wait to see you all. It is important to us that we apply an extra layer of safety and precaution on top of the govermental recommendations. Tentatively, we are looking at the end of May to reopen in a very limited capacity but we're following local and national developments very closesly so will be quick to bail if things turn south. Your continued support has been quite humbling. Thank you. Stay healthy, support local, and be more than kind to one another. . Cautiously optimistic, . ONA Staff

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Watershed Kitchen + Bar

101 Beer kitchen

They are delaying opening dine-in service until May 26th.

Matt the Miller's Tavern

Stay tuned on social for patio and dine-in updates!

J. Gumbo's

J. Gumbo's will continue to stay open for online ordering for pick up and delivery - stay tuned for dine-in updates.

Mouton on High

The Whitney House

The Whitney House will be opening Tuesday, June 2, 2020 at 11 am.

The Guild House

Stay tuned for opening dates!

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Stay safe everyone 💕

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Smoked On High

Dirty Frank's Hot Dog Palace

The Woodbury

The Woodbury will be opening its doors for dine-in service on June 1 2020.


Roosters are not opening dine-in until May 26th 2020.

The Eagle

The Eagle is temporarily closed - stay tuned on social for updates!

View this post on Instagram

In light of the government mandated closure of dine-in business for an indeterminable period of time, we’ve made the incredibly hard decision to temporarily close The Eagle Columbus. . Given the truly unprecedented and quickly evolving nature of this health crisis, we’ve been forced to make the best decisions we can, with the information we have. As the true scale of this crisis has been revealed, it’s become impossible to deny the impact this mandate will have on our business and team members. This decision was made as all of our decisions have been: with the health, happiness, well being and best interests of our guests and team members in mind. . The state of Thunderdome Restaurant Group is strong and we look forward to seeing and serving you all on the other side of this. Truth, courage, and be well.

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Lavash Cafe

Tiger + Lily

Tiger + Lily is sticking to carry out for the time being. Follow them on social for updates for dine-in!

Yats Grandview

Red Lobster

Red Lobster is continuing to stick to curbside pickup, delivery, or touchless pick-up.

Harvest Pizza

Bareburger Columbus

Bareburger is opening for dine-in on May 26th, 2020.


City Barbeque

Local Cantina - Creekside, Grandview, Dublin, Westerville, Hilliard Locations

Creekside Local Cantina is delaying opening indoor dining until May 26, 2020.

OH Pizza and Brew

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Don’t be that guy/gal who forces your favorite bar/restaurant to permanently close; here are the rules




Once the flood of COVID-related documentaries start to infiltrate our Netflix and Hulu feeds, one of the most debated topics will be which smoking gun the auteur chooses. NBA player Rudy Gobert recklessly rubbing his hands over every microphone during a press conference days before testing positive comes to mind first. The spring break bro who wouldn’t let the virus stop him from raging will make its rounds. Even the scene at Standard Hall made some people’s skin crawl.

The Ohio Investigative Unit will be doing its best to monitor situations at restaurants and bars in order to prevent any future anecdotes like the ones listed above. Local law enforcement agencies will be assisting the OIU to make sure that establishments are complying with the Dine Safe Ohio order. With the issues that were brought up following the opening of outside dining on May 15, the OIU has made specific stipulations for patrons to follow:

  • 6-foot social distancing between employees AND members of the public
  • patrons must be seated while eating and/or drinking 
  • no more than 10 people to a table
  • no billiards, video/arcade games, dancing, or card playing
  • patrons must follow specific guidelines put in place by restaurant/bar

For those who have no shame dancing by themselves in public, you’re golden. However, patrons can be written up for not following the OIU’s guidelines. 

Some people may be able to shoulder a citation, but bars and restaurants are the ones who have the most to lose here. In a press conference on May 18, Gov. Mike DeWine mentioned that OIU will issue citations that could result in the permanent loss of liquor licenses.

So once again the ball is in the consumer’s court: follow these very simple rules and avoid the risk of putting your favorite restaurants and bars out of business for good. In 2020, being spring break bro is the worst look.

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