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Rocktails Announces Partnership with Cincinnati Hard Rock Casino, Debut event Sunday, Dec. 19

Updated: Dec 28, 2021

Local musicians and mixologists Kristen Kreft and MayaLou Banatwala have made a career out of their shared passion for cocktails and music. A decade-long friendship and entrepreneurial mindset lead to Rocktails: An Amped Up Spin on Mixology, a cocktail book series and pop-up event bar and consulting service. Since 2017, the pair has been working together to create a standalone business that now boasts a cocktail book, offers various styles of events and planning and just announced a collaboration with Hard Rock Casino.

Rocktails is now the official creative curator of the Casino’s bar program. To celebrate their debut menu at the Council Oaks Steaks and Seafood restaurant, Kreft and Banatwala are hosting a tasting event Dec. 19 from 5-7pm. Rockails will eventually grant each restaurant in the Casino a cocktail menu makeover but until then, patrons can visit Council Oaks for a taste of what’s to come Casino-wide.

“When we saw the Hard Rock Casino was coming to Cincinnati we manifested our goal to collaborate with them,” Kreft said in an email. “I suppose we manifested it appropriately because when Hard Rock reached out to us interested in our brand we knew it was meant to be. This is an obvious next step to make our brand bigger and build upon it.”

The two first collabed on the cocktail book, which honors Cincinnati music history and musicians with local connections. As frontwomen of their respective bands, Banatwala (Heavy Hinges/Mynah Tones) and Kreft (The Perfect Children), they are well-versed on the scene and all things music in Cincinnati and when they worked behind the bar at Japps, they noticed that their signature cocktails often consisted of music-themed creations. Since then, Rocktails has taken off and continues to envelop their flow of ideas.

“As musicians we were impassioned by the rich history and present experience of the music scene in Cincinnati,” Banatwala said. “Also the history of spirits and cocktails in and around Cincinnati is just intoxicating to consume. Endless stories of bourbon, bitters, bootleggers and booze is incredible. Cincinnati is such a beautiful city with a rich rounded history. For a while we kept joking that we should write a book and connect mixology and music. We are also teachers and write our own music so this just made sense. Once we left Japps we decided that this had to happen and so it was that the journey Rocktails began. “

On Sunday, Council Oaks’ menu will represent the signature Rocktail flair with various options from Manhattans to Old Fashioneds. The duo is excited to highlight the William’s Old Fashioned specifically, named after Otis Williams of Otis Williams and the Charms. The doo-wop vocal group was of Cincinnati fame in the ’50s and Williams was recently inducted into Cincinnati’s Black Music Walk of Fame. The drink is a smoked rum Old Fashioned that features locally-made RJ Dark Rum. Visitors are encouraged to ask their bartenders about the drink’s origin stories, as each has its own exclusive tale and at least one delightful surprise, like the Stirling Road: a paloma with an edible flower garnish.

“As humans, we are innately story tellers,” Banatwala said. “What better way is there to connect with a person than telling a story and engaging with them. The origin of cocktails is wrapped up in the history of our civilization as a whole. By understanding cocktail history, you understand how different cultures began and developed.”

The pair calls this collaboration with Hard Rock a “true match made in musical libations,” one that not only benefits their company, but also the newly branded casino and its patrons. Sunday will give visitors an opportunity to taste all of the drinks while listening to live music by the Incomparable Dixie Karas and a chance to visit with the cocktail curators themselves.

Hard Rock Casino Cincinnati, Council Oak Steaks and Seafood

Sunday December, 19th, 5-7 PM


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