Holiday cocktails

Bartenders Bud Hoelzle and Wendy Casale mix up the perfect holiday cocktails. Read to see how they got into bartending, what they like about it, and try one of their recipes.

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Bartender Bud Hoelzle

Now in his 37th year of bartending, Bud Hoelzle’s list of employers reads like a tour through Canton area nightlife.

“I’m a hospitality guy,” he said about his long-running success. “I think people get that just from seeing me in action.”

Originally a touring band vocalist, Hoelzle said he never had given bartending a thought when he took his first job behind the bar at the Boar’s Head in Jackson Township. His wife was pregnant, and he needed to be off the road.

“I got into it accidentally,” he said of his career in cocktails. “Even five or six years in, I didn’t think I’d do it the rest of my life, but I sure enough have.”

He went on to tend bar at the Holiday Inn near downtown Canton, the Bali Hai in Perry Township and the Inn on the River in Zoar. He worked at Bogie’s, Jimmy D’s, Oscar’s Cafe, Notturno’s Restaurant, the Canton Club, Rafters at Meadowlake Golf Course, and Brookside and Congress Lake country clubs.

Now he’s happily making drinks at Jasmine Asian Bistro on 30th Street NW in Canton.

“I always tell people I have the friendliest bar in town here at Jasmine,” Hoelzle said. “It’s small and intimate, and people seem to make fast friends here. I try to help that along.”

At Jasmine, his pumpkin pie martini is really popular this time of year. Another hit there are his olives stuffed with blue cheese and wasabi, a garnish for vodka and gin martinis and his Asian Bloody Marys.

“I’ve created a monster,” he said with a chuckle. “I go through so many (stuffed olives) I sometimes have to make them at home because they are so labor-intensive.”

At Jasmine, Hoelzle has found a comfortable berth. “What’s really unique here is the hours are early, and I appreciate that,” he said. “It’s a place where everyone feels comfortable. It’s not a hangout place; everyone eats at my bar.”

December Chill Martini

1 ounce Stoli Salted Karamel Vodka
1 ounce cinnamon schnapps
4 ounces RumChata

Chill, strain and pour in glass rimmed with red and green sugar.

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Bartender Wendy Casale

Wendy Casale wears many hats. She is a professional tile installer. She is licensed to do hearing evaluations and fit hearing aids. She does notary work for title companies. She does catering.

And she bartends.

“I like the social aspect of it,” Casale said about creating cocktails at Gallery 121 in Massillon. “My main passion is cooking, and bartending is an extension of that. I can sort of play at work.”

Casale has been inventing drinks for Gallery 121’s next drink menu. “I jump in with ideas,” she said.

“What I like to do around the holidays is make my own simple syrup with a variety of herbs. Rosemary is nice. I also make my own bitters. Something with cranberries and oranges always seems to work well during the holidays.”

Gallery 121 encourages customers to order from its signature cocktails, which use the Columbus-based OVO brand liquors exclusively.

“We always have at least 20 different selections,” she said. The venue also features Ohio-made craft beers.

A surprising venue for downtown Massillon, Gallery 121 is an art gallery with hand-crafted cocktails, small-plate food offerings meant for sharing, intimate seating areas with couches, and live music on the weekends.

“Every day, people come in and say how happy they are that Massillon has something different,” said Casale, a Hoover High School graduate who lives in Green. “I enjoy the social aspect the gallery offers. I really feel at home there. Most of my friends are artists and musicians.”

When bartending, she said, “you run into people from all walks of life, and you definitely hear a lot!”

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RUBY PORT POACHED PEAR MARTINI

2 ounces Vanilla Bean Vodka
2 ounces pear nectar or juice
1 ounce poached pear liquid
Whipped cream for garnish
Sliced poached pear for garnish
Fresh nutmeg for garnish

You will need one jar or can of red wine poached pears, or homemade as Wendy uses. Reserve the poaching liquid and slice a pear into wedges for garnish.

Chill a martini glass. Add ice to a drink shaker along with the vodka, pear nectar and poaching liquid. Cover with a pint glass and shake hard until frost develops on the outside of the shaker. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Add a little whipped cream on the top, a pear slice and freshly grated nutmeg.