Bona Fide Bartender

Tiago Amaral flaunts his years of experience at Deviation Distilling in Denver.

Tiago Amaral’s hospitality history spans the country, from working his first job as a busser in Boston in the early 2000s to a server in San Diego in 2007 to a winemaker and bartender at Solterra Winery in Encinitas, California in 2012. But in 2015, after a move to Boulder, Colorado, he homed in on his current passion: mixology and cocktail creation. “I met my mentor, Ben Foote, at Emmerson Restaurant and he taught me the real art of mixology,” Amaral says. “I began buying cocktail books and traveling around the world to perfect my career as a mixologist. I may not have always worked in one style of venue but I’ve been in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years and a bartender for more than ten.”

But Amaral points out that, in a way, his bartending career goes back long before his time. “My family back in Brazil has long produced their own beer, amaro, and cherry liqueur,” he says. “This is the foundation of what I do and who I am now.” Given his family connection to spirits production, it’s fitting that Amaral is now head mixologist at Deviation Distilling’s cocktail lounge and tasting bar in downtown Denver where, due to Colorado’s distillery laws, any spirit used in cocktails must be made in-house. Deviation produces five different gins and the Barista Whiskey line of coffee-flavored whiskies, plus other limited releases—but in order to use things like liqueurs and bitters, Amaral and his bar team have to make them from scratch behind the bar. 

In addition to spirits flights, the lounge’s drinks menu features seasonal cocktails and classics (drinks are $14-$19). “Our cocktail style at Deviation is eclectic, we’re always creating new recipes, while respecting classics,” Amaral says. Falling into the former category is his Apple Tiki ($14), while the Zombie ($18; recipes below) is his take on the classic drink. “I’m similarly eclectic in my taste,” Amaral says. “I like to make all types of cocktails, from Old Fashioneds to tiki drinks and everything in between.” 

Tiago Amaral’s Recipes

Apple Tiki


2 ounces Deviation Spice Trade gin;

½ ounce John D. Taylor’s Velvet falernum liqueur¹;

¼ ounce St. Elizabeth allspice dram;

1 ounce The Perfect Purée caramelized pineapple;

1 ounce lemon juice;

1½ ounces homemade or store bought applesauce;

Dehydrated apple slice, flamed cinnamon stick, and cinnamon sugar.


In a cocktail shaker, combine gin, falernum, allspice dram, pineapple purée, lemon juice, applesauce, and one ice cube. Shake vigorously and pour into a tiki glass filled with pebble ice. Add a dusting of cinnamon sugar on top, plus a flamed cinnamon stick and dehydrated apple slice.

¹Deviation Distilling makes all liqueurs and mixers in-house. Branded substitutions are listed for ease of use.



 1½ ounces Deviation Citrus Rosé gin;

1½ ounces Deviation Blood Orange gin;

1 ounce Deviation Barrel Aged Spice Trade gin;

½ ounce John D. Taylor’s Velvet falernum liqueur;

1/8 teaspoon Herbsaint or Pernod anise liqueur;

¾ ounce lime juice;

½ ounce Donn’s mix²;

1 teaspoon grenadine³;

1 dash Angostura bitters;

Optional garnishes: dehydrated fruit, fresh fruit, edible flowers, and/or mint sprig.


 Combine the gins, falernum, anise liqueur, lime juice, Donn’s mix, grenadine, and bitters in a blender, then add 6 ounces of crushed ice. Blend at high speed for no more than 5 seconds. Pour the contents into a tall glass or tiki mug and add additional crushed ice to fill, if necessary. Optional garnishes include dehydrated fruit, fresh fruit, edible flowers, and/or mint sprig.

²Bring 3 crushed cinnamon sticks, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup water to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 2 minutes, then remove from heat and let sit for at least 2 hours before straining. Then mix together 1 part syrup to 2 parts fresh grapefruit juice.

³Heat up a 2:1 ratio of pomegranate juice to to sugar until juice has reduced slightly and sugar is dissolved.