Shawna Dietz is an Arizona native and JWU grad who loves this food-inspired city. She came onto the Providence mixology scene as a cocktail server at Dave & Busters ten years ago. Now, you can find her at the bar Tuesday through Saturday at Mill’s Tavern as their lead mixologist and assistant wine buyer. Pick her brain about wine, booze or her two adorable pugs.
How describe Mill’s Tavern?
Mill’s Tavern, located inside the historic Pilgrim Mill’s Building, is a beautiful restaurant serving great contemporary American food with some French inspiration. We offer a wide range from wood grilled steaks to oven roasted duck. Everything is made in house, including all the pastries and our bar infusions. Our dinner and cocktail menu changes seasonally.
What are you infusing this spring?
The spring cocktail menu will feature Rhubarb infused vodka with housemade strawberry meyer lemonade and rhubarb bitters.
Tell me about your signature drink.
You’ll find the Orange A’peel on the menu year-round. It’s made with orange- and ginger-infused Edinburgh Gin, Cointreau, dash of orange blossom water, fresh Valencia orange juice and fresh lemon juice.
What else can you consistently find on the cocktail menu?
Mojitos. We change the flavor profile monthly. I’ve been to too many bars where they are terrible. I know they can be hard to make, but we take the time to do it right and muddle it. Right now, we’re featuring a mojito made with blood orange, served with crushed ice and a dark rum float.
I hear you have a new wine system.
Yes, it’s pretty cool. We recently installed two temperature controlled wine coolers that hold over 150 bottles each. The coolers keep the wine at 62 degrees – the maximum tasting temperature. Over 100 different varieties of wine featured on our wine list are stored here. Some wines do need to be cooler, but great storage helps with the flavor profile of the wine. We continually update and rotate bottles. I’ll check with Wine Spectator to make sure that the wines are rated at least 86 points and above; we revisit and update as necessary.
What is your role as assistant wine buyer?
I assist with the tasting and purchase of new wines. We’re constantly updating growing our wine list. We try to keep a little bit of this and that; you won’t just find $80 bottles on the menu. We added 70 bottles last year to our list. I look for taste profiles from different regions and different varietals; we don’t like to have a lot of the same thing on the menu. We also have wine on tap at the bar.
Wine on tap?
Mill’s installed the Cruvinet wine system at the bar. It’s a temperature controlled dispensing system that keeps the wine from touching the air. You can enjoy a glass of wine from a $80-$90 bottle without having to purchase the entire thing and you still get the same great quality. My favorite is the 2012 Belle Glos Las Alturas Pinot Noir Central Coast. It’s a bit young, but very delicious with toasted vanilla and chocolate notes.
What inspires your wine purchase?
The story behind the wine is what interests me the most. I love to hear a great story about the winemaker, the vineyard, or what the brand represents. I have a true appreciation for good wine and always want to know more about it. I love to educate people on what it is that they are actually drinking. Wine is a really wonderful thing. Being able to pair with food and having it taste better with the food and vice versa.
What’s your favorite wine here?
My favorite wine is the Beni di Batasiolo Vigneto Corda della Briccolina Barolo. It’s a wonderful Italian red. It’s not too acidic and pretty delicious. It’s definitely one of the nicer wines we have.
What’s a good cocktail to impress your Easter guests with?
Keep it simple. Add some Pamplemousse Grapefruit Liqueur to your champagne.