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We Ask Kira Collings Tips for Making Homemade Shrubs

Kira Collings has been involved in the restaurant industry for over a decade, but just recently delved into the world of mixology. The foundation of knowledge and expertise she built during that period allowed her to quickly adopt new responsibilities behind the bar.

Headshot by of Carla Boecklin

Cocktail shots courtesy of Jacque Lynn Photography

She began bartending in the Fall of 2021 and went on to take charge of an entire cocktail program by the Spring of the year that followed, as Bar Manager.

Collings adds “Every time I leave this profession, I always end up coming back. Running a cocktail program has given me this wonderful creative outlet while making a decent living, which is not an easy thing to find nowadays!”

A gem of an establishment called Hearth and Hill in Park City, Utah is where Kira currently utilizes her well-developed skillset. While she does appreciate the beauty of the state she works in, Collings must abide by several regulations that hinder her creative reach.

“Although I want to clarify cocktails, infuse my own liquors, prebatch cocktails for speed and efficiency during service, etc., those things are all against DABS liquor laws. I want to use Laird’s Applejack Brandy on my fall menu, but the distributor let me know it could take months to get into the state. There are no wholesale prices on alcohol for businesses, which can make it a bit trickier to make a profit while pricing things in a way that delivers value to the guests. One of the more frustrating things for me is having such a hard time getting interesting spirits into Utah. This is where I take advantage of fantastic local distilleries in SLC, such as ‘Waterpocket Distillery’.”


Ironically, these regulatory limits contribute to the unique traits of her beverage program at Hearth and Hill. Locally sourced spirits are present in almost every concoction. Many of which are riffs on classic cocktails with small recipe tweaks, creating a whole new sipping experience.

At the upscale casual space that is Hearth and Hill, Kira and her fellow staff prioritize their guests’ sense of comfort. At the same time, she aims to persuade each guest to step out of their comfort zone and try things they wouldn’t normally. “It thrills me when someone is apprehensive about a drink at the start, and then can’t stop themselves from ordering the same one a second time,” she said.

Kira’s Tips for Low and No-ABV Cocktails:

I am obsessed with shrubs! Since I am unable to modify any spirits in house, shrubs have been a fun way to add complexity to cocktails and N/A beverages without overdoing it on sweetness. That tanginess from the vinegar makes everyone want to keep going back for another sip. I am currently working on a recipe for a peach lavender shrub for my fall menu (I can’t wait to go buy bushels of peaches from the fruit stands in Brigham City, UT!).

Most importantly, keep it simple. Often, a drink with shrubs needs little to no sweetener added into it. My most successful ones have used a split base of 2 spirits, shrub, topped with soda water.

When it comes to low ABV cocktails, you must come at it from a perspective of ‘How can I layer flavors cohesively? How can I keep something interesting, without the goal being how drunk can I get someone?’

Shrubs are a great way to get flavors with depth
Bitters help round out the cocktail
Honey infused with teas add great flavor and texture
Utilizing bottled N/A spirits helps with the complexity of flavors without turning it into a sugar bomb.

I am most proud of my shrubs! I will spend hours in my kitchen at home, macerating different fruits in my fridge, or throwing a variety of herbs I find at my local ethnic grocery stores into a simmering pot, and at some point, things just click. I feel like a witch creating potions! It’s one of the places I feel I have the most creative freedom!

Photo by Jacque Lynn Photography

Pineapple Express

by Kira Collings


1 1/2 oz El Jimador Reposado
1 1/2 oz pineapple shrub*
1/2 oz Wahaka mezcal


Fill glass all the way up with ice, add all ingredients, top with soda water, gently stir, and garnish.
Garnish with dehydrated pineapple slice.



1 cup freshly cut pineapple
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup pineapple juice (canned will do just fine)
2 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 serrano pepper


Combine all ingredients on the stove to simmer for 30 minutes.
Take off the heat and add 1 cup apple cider vinegar.
Let it cool on the counter, once cooled let it sit your fridge covered overnight.
The next day, strain out the ingredients.
Will keep in the fridge for at least 1 month.

The post We Ask Kira Collings Tips for Making Homemade Shrubs appeared first on Chilled Magazine.

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