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  • Katrina Fraley

Rocktails preview at Grrl + Weapon showcase pays homage to local artists with reimagined recipes

April showers bring May flowers, but for two local musicians and mixologists, Mayalou Banatwala and Kristen Kreft, those flowers are going straight away as garnishes for some delicious cocktails. The duo co-authored Rocktails: An Amped Up Spin on Mixology Vol 1 and will be celebrating the release at a number of local events throughout the month.




The book is a reimagining and subversive take on classic cocktail recipes inspired by musical artists with a Cincinnati connection. The duo will offer up these amped up cocktails as well as signed copies at several special events during the month of May. In going through the thought process behind their creations, Kreft excitedly explains how the pair took the classic cocktail The Godfather and amped up a play on the original inspired by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. “How can we spin that? What can we add to the top of it? Let’s add some champagne because he’s the King, he deserves it. King Records. Wait, there’s Copper & Kings Brandy, a local brandy company. Ok, forget the Hennessey, let’s change it to that local brandy company...and amaretto? Wait, why do we need amaretto when we can have caramel popcorn simple syrup?! How do we even make that? I don’t care, let’s just do it! And that’s how we riff off one another.” Banatwala adds, “We actually submitted this cocktail in a contest being held by Copper & Kings distillery and will compete in the semi-finals in July.”

The pair has also taken the Cincinnati connection beyond the musical artists themselves, featuring locally sourced bourbon and breweries in their recipes. Their cocktail “Jive Turkey” inspired by The Ohio Players calls for Cincy-Made Rhinegeist Dad Holiday Ale. Other recipes utilize New Riff distillery and Madtree brewery.



photo by Angie Lipscomb

Throughout the month, Banatwala and Kreft will be celebrating their release. Kicking off the celebrations, May 14th is a special night planned with Grrl + Weapon, a femme+ artistic showcase that occurs monthly at The Listing Loon in Northside. Each month Grrl + Weapon hosts an established musical artist, a poet, and a “newbie” artist in any medium. May’s lineup includes CEA award winning artist, Wonky Tonk, poetry by Kendall Jolley, and the musical talents of newbie artist Nella King. Kreft and Banatwala have curated extra-special cocktails for the Grrl + Weapon performers, sourcing local ingredients and using their songs and poems as inspiration.


You can learn more about where to find the duo mixing up delicious cocktails and signing books by following them on Facebook and at their website.