Reinventing the cocktail

Mixologist bringing new ‘culture’ to Roseville
By: ToLewis, The Press Tribune
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Chris Dooley wants to revive the cocktail and promote a new sort of culture in Roseville. As bar manager and mixologist at Pause Lounge & Kitchen in Roseville, Dooley created a program that is congruent with the restaurant’s philosophy of utilizing only fresh, responsibly farmed and locally grown products in its kitchen and bar. Dooley has won numerous awards for mixology when he worked for Ella Dining Room and Bar in Sacramento, yet he does not describe himself as a “mixologist.” “Mixology is sort of a 21st-century term that describes what it is that we do,” he said. “I think there is a lot of history, there is a lot of culture and a lot of respect behind this profession. I still look at and respect where my profession came from.” That respect has fueled Dooley’s passion for bringing a fresh and innovative approach to creating cocktails, while staying true to the classic cocktail concept. Using quality liqueurs, handmade concoctions, fresh juices and local produce, Dooley creates cocktails that rival those found in some of the most reputable establishments in New York and San Francisco. The restaurant, with modern décor, an open kitchen and over-all urban feel, echoes those sentiments, utilizing small plates, tastes and entrée-sized portions in promoting a social dining concept. “We want to get away from the idea that everybody orders one plate, sticks to their one plate and that’s it,” said executive chef Michael Williams. Williams said it is his goal to get diners to try many different things off of the menu, sharing food and conversation in a communal way. “We’re not trying to throw some bistro out of San Francisco in Roseville, but we’re trying to utilize that dining concept with the demographic out here,” Dooley said. Now in its third month of being open, Pause Lounge & Kitchen owners Lucas and Jacob Elia, who also own Bloom Coffee and Tea in the same center (Stone Point on Eureka Road), say there has been a need for a concept like this for quite some time. “I think a lot of people from here drive to downtown Sacramento because there aren’t many places you can go to get food that’s sourced responsibly and prepared by people that really care about what they’re doing,” Lucas Elia said. Dooley said that Roseville is close enough to cities like San Francisco and Sacramento to have been influenced by the cocktail and “foodie” culture that has emerged there in recent years. “I think that we’re offering something at the right time where people are hungry and eager for something new,” Dooley said. “You don’t have to go to downtown Sacramento or San Francisco to have an urban experience.” Chef Michael Williams prepares food with eclectic style, featuring items ranging from pan seared local halibut over squid ink risotto with lemon beurre blanc to crab beignets with cayenne powdered sugar and lemon aioli. “A lot of where we get our influences comes from what the seasons have to offer,” Williams said. “Sustainable eating whenever possible is what the seasons are telling you to do, it’s what the body needs. It’s what we are meant to do as animals.” Many of Dooley’s recipes encourage cocktail fans to reach outside their comfort zone such as the Cloud Nine, an intoxicating elixir made up of Absinthe, green chartreuse, elderflower liqueur, lime juice and prosecco. Dooley also makes all the mixers for his cocktails from scratch including the house-made tonic, made up of freshly ground rainforest quinine (a tree root that has medicinal properties and a somewhat bitter aftertaste) imported from South America and fresh-squeezed citrus juices. “I think the ingredients that we use are really what make the difference in our cocktail program,” Lucas Elia said. “If you look at the back bar, it’s a lot of really quality alcohol that isn’t very well known. That makes a big difference in the cocktails.” Cocktail culture Originating in local watering holes and speakeasy taverns of San Francisco and New York, “cocktail culture” is described as a movement that pays homage to traditional cocktails but with modern focus, Dooley said. He said he is closely influenced by the cocktail culture that began more than 100 years ago and has lost its luster in latter years due to the arrival and popularity of artificially flavored mixers and sugar-infused spirits. “Bartending was a classy, high-paid profession back in the day,” Dooley said. “You were at the forefront of doing something that hadn’t been done before. We were almost like a pharmacist on top of being a psychologist.” In addition to happy hour from 3 to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, Pause Lounge & Kitchen also has a late-night happy hour from 10 p.m. to closing every day they are open. This has attracted many people who work in the restaurant industry or those who work late and are looking for a quality late-night meal or night cap, Dooley said. “Sometimes the restaurant can be slow and all of the sudden around 10 or 11 p.m., the whole place fills up again,” he said. Pause Lounge & Kitchen occasionally feature’s local DJs, Dooley said, and hopes to hold live music events on its outdoor patio in the near future. For now, the restaurant and lounge is closed Sundays and Mondays, but owners say they will be opening on one of those days in the near future. Toby Lewis can be reached at