Rusty Lewter knows a thing or two about how to make high-quality cocktails. He spent eight years mixing up Old Fashioneds, Dry Martinis, and the occasional Dark ‘N’ Stormy as the stadium butler for Jerry Richardson, owner of the Carolina Panthers. Then he spent four years honing his craft at Carmel Country Club, one of the top clubs in America. With an impressive resume and two decades worth of experience, the Charlotte-based bartender has learned that the secret to a great mixed drink is all in the ingredients. And those ingredients, from the hand-pressed juices to the hand-made syrups, must be fresh.
“People taste the freshness of the cocktail,” Lewter says. “Using your own, local ingredients definitely makes the drink taste better—and it’s above and beyond how much better it is.”
Bringing Flair to your Bar
For the past two years, Lewter has been doing high-end private events in people’s homes around the Carolinas. Known as “Your Charlotte Bartender,” he brings the tools of his trade to each party: a bar mat, a back table with shelves of different heights, and fresh produce and herbs. An elevated aesthetic is vital to his role as a “curated cocktail caterer.” And his bar wouldn’t be complete without the handcrafted and remarkably efficient Artisan Citrus Juicer (also available in larger and hand-held versions).
“I just like the look of that juicer. It goes hand-in-hand with what I’m doing and the experience my clients are getting from a hand-crafted cocktail,” Lewter says. “The juicer brings so much to the whole aesthetic of my table. It just ties everything together.”
Unlike other juicers that tend to have a more basic look with steel and black plastic, the Artisan Citrus Juicer is plastic-free with a sturdy, elegantly rustic look.
“I’m absolutely in love with the gold one,” Lewter laughs. “You put a different juicer next to the Artisan Citrus Juicer and it’s a no-brainer which one you’d rather have on your bar.”
More Than Just a Pretty Face
Lewter is quick to point out that the juicer is as functional as it is fashionable. A fresh-squeezed lemon or lime has a limited shelf life, he says, adding that the juice is only good for about four hours before it starts losing vibrancy.
“That’s why it’s really important to have fresh fruit on hand to be able to squeeze and use the juice right then and there when I need it,” he says. Take his incredibly simple, five-ingredient margarita. “It’s super basic, but the fresh-squeezed citrus is really what makes that cocktail.”
And given Lewter’s business is better than ever with most weekends booked with multiple events and even weekdays filled with his online mixology classes—he’s taught classes for thousands of people across the U.S., including for some of the biggest technology firms out there (though he discreetly didn’t name names)—his clients are noticing the difference.
They’re also noticing his juicer.
“I always get compliments on it,” Lewter says. “I’ve had multiple people tell me this is a great gift idea. I hear that over and over.”
Set Yourself Apart from the Rest
Your Charlotte Bartender is clearly passionate about what he does. As a result, he’s constantly striving to improve. This year he’s taken up beekeeping so that he’ll be able to include his own honey in his recipes. He’s also started a garden in order to feature hand-picked mint and basil in his drinks. He’s always in research and development mode, reviewing what’s working (and what isn’t working) for other bartenders when it comes to recipes, ingredients, and aesthetics.
“I’m just always trying to master my craft and learn from others. I’m always looking for new ways to stand out,” Lewter says. “And I definitely think that fruit juicer makes me stand out.”