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Bartender "definitely into the creativity' at new cocktail lounge

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Shake Pour Drink

The Oblivion cocktail at Shake Pour Drink.

A veteran Winston-Salem bartender is stepping out with a new cocktail lounge downtown.

Shake Pour Drink

Aaron Smith, bartender and operator of Shake Pour Drink, makes the Oblivion cocktail at Canteen on Fourth Street in Winston-Salem. Shake Pour Drink, a craft cocktail bar, is being hosted by Canteen.

Shake Pour Drink is now open three days a week at 411 W. Fourth St., in the Canteen Still Life space.

Canteen owner Claire Calvin — who also owns The Porch Kitchen & Cantina and Alma Mexicana — plays host to the new cocktail lounge, but she has handed the reins to bartender/manager Aaron Smith to fulfill his vision of what a bar should be.

Smith, 32, has mixed drinks not only at The Porch, Canteen and Alma, but also such places Eastern Standard, Joyner’s and Six Hundred Degrees.

Shake Pour Drink

The Hot Like Sauce cocktail at Shake Pour Drink.

“I’ve been bartending for over a decade, so this is kind of how I think things should be,” he said.

Smith said the concept really grew out of his Instagram account. He was posting photos of a lot of his favorite original cocktails online, and he garnered a following. “Then Claire hit me up to take over the space when they aren’t doing private events,” he said.

Though once a restaurant, bar and market, Canteen has restricted itself to private events for the past year or more — till now.

Calvin said she plans to continue to rent out the space for private events, but whenever the space is not rented, Smith and Shake Pour Drink will take over.

Though Shake Pour Drink will offer beer on tap and wine, the focus will be on craft cocktails. The cocktail menu contains six of Smith’s original cocktails on one side and six of his favorite classic cocktails on the other.

Shake Pour Drink

Aaron Smith, bartender and operator of Shake Pour Drink, makes the Oblivion cocktail.

The classics ($12) include Aperol spritz, “goldfashion” with bourbon and honey syrup, and strawberry Cosmo.

All of this signature cocktails ($14 to $16) are named after songs by online DJs that Smith likes. Oblivion, named after a song by DJ Lsdream, includes Ram’s Point peanut-butter whiskey, Jameson cold brew, Absolut vanilla vodka, Godiva dark chocolate liqueur, egg white and espresso, all garnished with espresso beans and shaved chocolate.

Shake Pour Drink

The Oblivion cocktail at Shake Pour Drink.

Hot Like Sauce, named after a song by Pretty Lights, includes Marci’s Tears ghost pepper vodka (locally made by Old Nick Williams Co. in Lewisville), Del Maguey Vida mezcal, lime juice, grenadine, Angostura bitters, lime and cherries.

“I’m definitely into the creativity,” Smith said. “I like to create cocktails daily.”

Of the atmosphere at Shake Pour Drink, Smith said, “I’ve always been a fan of dimly lit bars — where you get to choose if you want to be seen.”

Shake Pour Drink

The Oblivion cocktail at Shake Pour Drink.

Smith has plans for special events in the space. Shake Pour Drink hosted a drag show on Oct. 28. Smith would like to have a DJ come in some time to play dance music. He also is interested in collaborations of various kinds.

Shake Pour Drink

Aaron Smith adds shaved chocolate to the Oblivion cocktail.

Delurk Gallery is currently hanging artwork in the space. Smith is planning a “whisker wars” facial-hair competition for the end of the month. Food pop-ups also are on the table.

Shake Pour Drink

The Hot Like Sauce cocktail at Shake Pour Drink.

“I really want to do collaborations, whether it’s with barbers, artists, musicians, chefs. I’m trying to tap into anything creative, even food.”

His dream bar — or "cocktail lounge" as he prefers — he said, “is always evolving.”

Shake Pour Drink

The Oblivion cocktail at Shake Pour Drink.

Shake Pour Drink

Aaron Smith adds shaved chocolate to the Oblivion cocktail.

Shake Pour Drink

The Oblivion cocktail at Shake Pour Drink.

Shake Pour Drink

The Hot Like Sauce cocktail at Shake Pour Drink.

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@mhastingsWSJ

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