Corey Trout spends a lot of time exploring cocktail ingredients, but one flavor continues to elude him. “Woolly mammoth,” he says, laughing. “I’ve always wondered what woolly mammoth tastes like.” Trout’s interest in prehistoric proteins developed long before he made a splash in the Springfield, Missouri hospitality industry; before becoming a bartender, Trout studied history with the goal of teaching. He explains that, while he’s open to the idea of returning to the education field, he’s happy spending his days learning from others – specifically, the guests he serves as the lead bartender at Reverie. “It’s actually one of my favorite things to talk to guests about – how they make their Old Fashioneds or Manhattans or Martinis,” Trout says. “The sort of twists they execute at their home bars. I’ve honestly found a lot of inspiration from that; if somebody tells me about using a ton of persimmons as a modifier, for example.”
Since taking over as Reverie’s lead bartender earlier this year, Trout has tapped into his love of history to level up Reverie’s classic cocktail offerings. Mammoth meat aside, Trout draws inspiration from the decadence of the Gilded Age, tinkering with Prohibition-inspired classics and ingredients that are firmly in the now. For example, Reverie’s recent holiday cocktail menu included things like the Kyoto Cosmo, a riff on the classic Cosmopolitan featuring matcha-infused vodka, plum cordial, lime, egg white and freeze-dried cranberry powder. What’s next on this history buff’s agenda? “Realistically just continue to do what we’re doing, which is providing incredible service and great cocktails for our guests,” Trout says. “We have an amazing space and an awesome team. I’d like to continue staying the course, continuing to provide that level of service alongside some really exceptional drinks.”
What advice do you have for home bartenders? Just experiment. There are so many resources out there available to us now, which is why I always say that everybody can make a good drink. There are tons of recipes out there, and you can recreate just about anything you find in a cocktail book; just be sure to make it your own.
Do you have a secret weapon spice/ingredient/technique? Honestly, it comes down to simplifying the process. The one thing it took me years to learn is that sometimes the best cocktails are the simplest ones. When I first started in the industry, I was making these cocktails with five to 10 different ingredients. And they were some great drinks, but they were also very complex with a lot of steps to them. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized you can deliver the same experience with maybe three ingredients if you find the right components. It’s not necessarily oversimplifying – just simplifying the process.
What’s your perfect day of eating in Springfield? I’d start by going for brunch at Farmers Gastropub – they’re my previous employer, and they have amazing breakfast food. I’d likely get a couple of mimosas as long as I could get them with grapefruit juice, not orange. From there, it’s probably happy hour at Progress or Reverie. We have this amazing happy hour with great deals and awesome food. Then I’d probably do a second meal at Team Taco right after happy hour, then finish up downtown – maybe hit The Hepcat for some smoked fried chicken or Golden Girl [Rum Club] for a couple cocktails with some nachos. Actually, I’m not sure how much I could realistically eat during this perfect day, so I might need to sneak a nap in there somewhere.
What’s your go-to cocktail to make at home? The Last Word is one of my go-tos. I’ll also make a slightly more esoteric drink when I’m at home with aquavit, tonic water and a splash of Aperol.
What are your future plans? Long-term, I’d eventually love to open my own place. I’ve had a few different ideas on the back burner for a long time. It’s just a matter of finding that right place at the right time. Beyond that, I have my degree in education, so I’ll probably find myself in some teaching role, whether that be through hospitality or history, which was my concentration in school.
Reverie, 2144 E. Republic Road, Springfield, Missouri, reveriebar.com