Behind the Bar: Veteran Mixologists Share their Favorite Sippers
After nearly two decades of working together at the Edgewater Beach Hotel’s Reflections Pool Bar, Greg Selias and Cory Sheehan have the kind of rapport — and repartee — that only comes with time, proximity, and bro-mantic chemistry. “He’s the little brother I never had,” Greg says of Cory, who started at Reflections 18 years ago, four years after Greg arrived. The two have been asked more than once to set up a live cam at the bar, so hotel regulars can tune in from home when they’re not on vacation to boost their mood with the bartenders’ banter and a blast of Florida sunshine. Find out more about Edgewater’s veteran mixologists — and the drinks they love.
MEET GREG AND CORY
“There are so many memories guests have created being here — hanging out at the bar talking to us and to the other guests, looking out at the water, the kids playing in the pool,” says Cory. “Yes, they may remember the drink we made them, but it’s really about the whole experience.”
A full 70 percent of the Edgewater’s visitors are repeat guests; many have been coming to this family-oriented boutique hotel in Naples for generations. Over the years, Greg and Cory have seen dozens of families meet by the pool, become fast friends, book their next vacations at the same time, and then keep coming back as the kids grow up, and sometimes even get married at the hotel. “I’ve never seen this level of connectivity between guests, and between guests and staff, anywhere else,” Cory says. “It’s like being with family and friends.”
“We know their names, where they come from, what they do for a living,” adds Greg, who has been known to spot guests across the pool deck that he hasn’t seen for years, and have their favorite drink waiting for them by the time they step up to the bar. “At other places, I couldn’t wait to finish my shift — here we’ll end up staying an extra hour behind the bar just talking to the guests and catching up.”
Bartending is all about personality, according to Greg, who was born and raised in Greece and worked in the food and beverage industry in Australia before landing in Naples. A talent for mixology helps, of course. “It’s like being a chef,” says Cory, “experimenting with what flavors go together, trying a little bit of this and a little bit of that, adding and subtracting and figuring out what’s missing, until the balance is exactly right.”
That’s how he created Reflections’ signature Bloody Mary, made from scratch with special ingredients like A.1. sauce, two different mustards, celery salt, Tabasco, and horseradish. Another perennial crowd favorite: the triple-rum Caribbean Smuggler, which Greg invented two decades ago — a tropical concoction of equal parts spiced rum and coconut rum, mixed with pineapple and cranberry juice, topped up with dark rum, and garnished with a cherry and a slice of pineapple.
Light and fruity drinks are also popular poolside, ranging from frozen piña coladas and daiquiris to Reflections’ Skinny Blueberry Lemonade, made with muddled blueberries, blueberry-flavored vodka, house-made sour mix, fresh-squeezed lime, and agave. For the younger vacationers, the bar — which is situated between the hotel’s two heated pools, just steps from the Gulf front — offers a “zero proof” selection, with options like the Strawberry Lemonade Mule, with fresh strawberries and ginger beer, and a virgin piña colada.
So after a day of mixing and mingling, when the sun goes down and Reflections closes its shutters, what libations do these two barkeeps like to relax with? Cory enjoys a vodka soda or a Yuengling lager, and occasionally sips a fine scotch or bourbon. As for Greg, it’s Miller Lite all the way. Seems that old saying about the cobbler with holes in his shoes applies to bartenders, too.
Combine 1 oz. Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum, 1 oz. Bacardi Coconut Rum, 1.5 oz. cranberry juice, and 1.5 oz pineapple juice. Top off with a splash of dark rum.
Skinny Blueberry Lemonade
Muddle 2 tablespoons of blueberries with 1.5 oz Stoli Blueberi and 2 oz. sour mix. Shake vigorously and top with a splash of club soda.