Swine and Vine’s Jill Sadler is a bubbly, focused entrepreneur that happens to know how to elevate a cocktail like nobody’s business. When we connected to talk tea, business, and – well – liquor, I knew we’d get along just fine when she said, “Glassware is a problem for me…I want it all.” Yes, Jill…we want all the teacups. We get it. No judgment.
Part of our blog series aims to focus on other local businesses and people who are doing great things. The thread that connects us? Why, tea, of course! Enjoy learning a little about Jill, cocktails (and how tea fits in them!) and Swine and Vine’s exciting new location coming to Uptown Waterloo.
When I was a little kid, I would sit at home and read my mom’s cookbooks and learn about different recipes and ingredients. I would spend hours doing that sort of thing. So, I find cocktails are very similar to building a recipe for food. Just like how different flavour profiles work for a food recipe, the same goes for creating a cocktail recipe. To build a good base for cocktails, you want to decide what you’d like the star of the show to be and most often that’s a spirit. Next, you want to choose ingredients that will play off that star of the show and enhance the flavour and really showcase it in a nice way. Sweetness and acidity are two things that are going to help accomplish that. You can achieve these things through fresh juices, citruses, different types of simple syrups. Simple syrups are where I’ll tend to incorporate tea. It’s so easy to make tea simple syrups because essentially that’s what you’re doing when you make a simple syrup: you’re steeping ingredients with sugar! So, if you just add tea to that you end up with a totally different product and flavour. This is a simple, interesting, and unique way to get flavour into cocktails.
Do you get inspired by seasonal flavours or do you tend to go with whatever is calling to you in the moment?
I definitely lean toward the seasons and I find that spring and summer cocktails are way easier for me to come up with. Probably because everyone likes spring and summer in Canada! I definitely get inspired by lots of fruit and bright flavours. I keep a long list of recipes on my computer that I can reflect back upon. One of the ideas we have had during COVID was that maybe we should create a little cocktail book or something...maybe one day that would be something fun for us to do. The person that does our food photography (a friend of mine) is amazing so it would be great to collaborate on something like this.
An All Things Tea aside: we’d love to interject here that we have always taken special note of Swine and Vine’s photography; it is beautiful and tells a story with every picture…to think this is the photographer’s “side gig” is pretty amazing.
Do you have a “stand-out” tea cocktail that you’ve served in the past that people loved?
Yes! Last summer we had a cocktail that was bourbon-based and then we got fresh Ontario peaches and I cooked them in a tea that had honey and nut flavours. We cooked it all down together and puréed it and added a little orange juice. We’d shake all that together and then pour over ice and topped it with a pinot noir red wine float and garnished it with fresh basil. It was really good and so pretty because you’d get this two-toned cocktail.
Another All Things Tea aside: Um, we’ll take 12, please and thanks. And it’s worth noting that visual impact is also a huge component of a successful cocktail experience.
Cocktails aside (if only for a moment), do you have a favourite tea, Jill?
Yes, I find tea really soothing (though I’m a coffee drinker at heart). My mom switched over to drinking more tea when I was in my teens to gain some of the health benefits and so there was tea in my house for sure. I’m honestly kind of boring though – I like green tea.
All Things Tea aside #4,567: There’s not one single boring thing about green tea, Jill! We love it, too!
Shifting focus, share what you are most excited about with your new (15 King Street North, Waterloo) location?
Our location on Lancaster has been great. I like going to little holes in the wall; our Lancaster location is a very unassuming spot that you may not expect a nice place to be in, so there have been really cool things about that. However, I’m really looking forward to being part of the Uptown core. I’m excited to be part of the hustle and bustle; it’ll be really nice to be around people, community and a general buzzing energy. We love going out and supporting other businesses and talking to other business owners and connecting in general. I think this is one of the ways that can help you come up with really good ideas…being around those types of creators.
OK, last All Things Tea aside: Jill and I also chatted about how truly fantastic it is that Chef Denis Hernandez has formally partnered with Swine and Vine as part owner. His creativity in the kitchen contributes to a really exciting food culture in our region.
Last question, Jill! What drives your business philosophy? What is important to you as business owners?
We do what we do because we love the restaurant industry. We love food and drink. Like how you feel about tea, we also feel that food and drink connects people. Going out to restaurants often means you’re celebrating or you’re catching up with friends. You’re going to restaurants – generally – to have a positive experience. I think it’s really awesome to be able to create those memories and experiences for people. If we weren’t able to do that anymore, I think it’d be very difficult for us to continue on. We’ve been able to surround ourselves with individuals on our team that think like that and think that way through food. And supporting local, now more than ever, is a huge thing for us. We’ve gone even more localized with our producers and in other ways that allow us to support our local businesses.
What a genuine pleasure it was to chat with Jill; we were hoping she’d dish on her cocktail mastery…and she did! We’re so excited to see what is next in store for Swine and Vine. So, to sign off (as I write this blog post on a sunny deck dreaming of frosty tea cocktails), here’s a very simple tea cocktail recipe that you can try your hand at this summer. Inspired by our Kate and William’s Royal Tea…enjoy (and pinkies up)!
Kate & William Royal Cocktail
- 6 oz. cold (brewed) Kate & William’s Royal Tea
- 1 ¼ oz. high-quality gin (we love Dillon’s!)
- 1 ¼ oz. honey simple syrup (5 cups water, 1 cup local honey…simmer until honey is dissolved)
- ¼ oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
- 2 springs of fresh lavender
- Brew 4 cups of Kate & William’s Royal Tea (this will allow you to make a couple of cocktails; keep in fridge to keep cold).
- Make a batch of honey simple syrup to store in the fridge as well (just simmer water and honey in a saucepan until honey has dissolved); cool the simple syrup in the fridge.
- Add 6 oz. (chilled) Kate & William’s Royal Tea, 1 ¼ oz. gin, 1 ¼ oz. honey simple syrup and ¼ oz. fresh-squeezed lemon juice to a shaker; shake and pour over ice.
- Garnish with lavender.
If you're a business owner and would love to talk tea...we'd love to hear from you. Drop us a line at email@example.com!