Clockwise from left: Christine Chamblee Nishimura (412 Public House); the Bunny Melon cocktail, created by Christine Chamblee Nishimura of 412 Public House (Christine Chamblee Nishimura); Patrick Dempsey as “McDreamy,” Dr. Derek Shepherd, on “Grey’s Anatomy” (ABC.com)
In this creative new weekly series, local author, artist and all-around entertaining and eccentric (not to mention classy!) Southern gentleman Ben Johnson South introduces Cullman Tribune readers to the creative thinkers and doers in the Cullman community.
“10 Things from a Tribune Tastemaker”
This week, meet Christine Chamblee Nishimura, head bartender, 412 Public House
Cullman has a gracious, savvy, fun, unofficial-but-true “Ambassadress of Hospitality,” Christine Chamblee Nishimura, head bartender of 412 Public House. In less than a year, Christine’s briskly sparkling, bustling bar has become “THE” place to meet-and-greet in our part of Alabama. Easing onto a popular perch at Christine’s chic, Amy Wood-designed, nest feels like being welcomed to a friendly, classy, Southern home radiating charm. With the diplomacy of an ambassadress, Christine credits her hospitality skills to her family, who owned Chamblee’s Italian and Steaks, and credits the impeccable professionalism of 412 to her superb associates. When I compared her bar to the famed Highlands Bar & Grill (Birmingham) started by fellow Cullmanite, Frank Stitt, Christine said she shares Frank’s standards for “consistent quality” and “refining the details.” She added, “At 412, we constantly practice our skills: the pours and recipes. We aspire for the cocktail you order to delight you exactly as the one you had with us on your last visit.” If Christine were not an “ambassadress,” she would make a great captain of a ship; everything shipshape and smooth sailing.
Here are: “10 things from this TERRIFIC TASTEMAKER:”
- SOUTHERN BELLE—the signature cocktail on the 412 menu she wants ladies to try
- WHISKEY SOUR—a 412 classic “traditional and tasty” for a Southern gent
- LAMONT LANDERS—an Alabama musician Christine wants everyone in earshot to hear the next time he performs at 412
- HER DAD, ROBIN WILLIAMS, PATRICK DEMPSEY—three people on Earth or above she’d most like to join her on a barstool at 412; “I’d make my daddy a bourbon with a twist, or maybe a beer cocktail with a PBR. Robin would get something I would call a ‘Doubtfire,’ and it would have to have a flame. And, I’m on a ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ kick, so Dr. McDreamy would definitely get a warm and mellow Scotch.”
- GOAT ISLAND BREWING and KARMA’S COFFEE HOUSE—Cullman businesses she salutes for creativity and great customer service
- NOAH MCCULLOUGH at The Collins Bar (Birmingham)—a fellow bar professional she admires; great gin concoctions and tiki drinks, some with a Tom Cruise, “Brian Flanagan” flare
- BEST BAR JOKES—ask Luke at 412 who has some great ones, “He cracks up customers and the rest of us every day.”
- VERMOUTH—a weird word to hear in an Alabama bar, “It’s so Bond. James Bond.”
- A CLOUDY GLASS—a pet peeve and something should it ever happen at 412 would “drive me insane.”
- WONTON NACHOS OR CHEESE STICKS—favorite bar food at 412, “Half the time, I end up getting both.”
THE BUNNY MELON COCKTAIL – created by Christine Chamblee Nishimura, 412 Public House
This Cullman Tribune TASTEMAKER original honors the great American philanthropist and garden guru, Rachel “Bunny” Mellon.
2-3 cucumber slices
3-4 basil leaves
¾ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. fresh lime juice
½ oz. Midori melon liqueur
½ oz. St. Germaine Elderflower liqueur
1 ¼ oz. Plymouth Gin (Christine’s personal fave)
1 egg white
Instructions: Muddle cucumber, basil, simple syrup and lime juice together; add liqueurs, gin and egg white; dry shake (shake without ice), then shake vigorously with ice and double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with fresh basil sprig and cucumber.
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