Saturday, September 22, 2018
Dining

Datz mixologist Morgan Zuch heads to national bartending competition

WONDER BURGER: DATZ DOES IT

News from South Tampa comfort food titans Datz has been winging around the internet this week with the debut of their Amazon Warrior Burger in honor of the release of the new Wonder Woman movie. Not sure how this is precisely a tribute to Gal Gadot, or even Lynda Carter, but the burger features two patties and three sourdough buns in red, blue and gold, topped with white cheddar and American cheese stars that make the entire creation look reminiscent of the old-school Wonder Woman costume. Plus, it has superhero accessories such as lettuce, tomato, onions and sliced pineapple (no lasso of truth). Datz will be serving the monster burger, priced at $20, from June 2 to 4. The new Wonder Woman movie arrives in theaters June 2.

WONDER WOMAN: ALSO AT DATZ

The towering monster could also be a good-luck sendoff snack for Datz's own Wonder Woman, mixologist and general manager Morgan Zuch. She was the first woman to win a Star of the Bar regional competition and heads to Nationals at the National Restaurant Association BAR 17 in Chicago on Sunday, where she will reprise her winning cocktail, the Perky Peach. We caught up with her recently to talk about her influences, bartending competition and why mixology is still a boy's club.

Where are you from?

I grew up in Tampa and live in St. Pete now. I started bartending at 23 at Macaroni Grill. Datz is really what made me what I am now. I started there almost five years ago in the front of the house but have always kind of been attracted to the bar.

What was your first competition?

It was Margarita Wars for Creative Loafing in 2014, with a crowd-based voting system. I wanted to make something very Datz but also something of my own, so I did a floral bacon margarita with rosewater and jowl bacon with rose sugar, rose petal and jowl bacon garnish. I won that one, and after that I've done many, many competitions, all different.

What do you get out of competitions?

Competitions make you so much better because you learn so much from your competitors. United States Bartenders' Guild has made me into what I am — competing against them and watching them. Winning or losing, it's a learning experience every time.

Why does it seem like the field is still so male-dominated?

I wish I had the answer to that. Everywhere I go it's just me, or me and one other girl. I see very few women, not sure why. In hiring, it's so hard to find a girl. I know a bunch locally and we have a group called Ladies Behind Bars. Tracie Franklin, the Glenfiddich ambassador, she instilled the fear in me. She said, you need to practice. You need to beat these boys.

What was your thought process with the Perky Peach?

The first ideas were peach and coffee, and after that it was salt, honey and smoke. It was inspired by the local Saturday Morning Market. Every time I go I have a coffee. I smoked cold brew with mesquite in a smoker. Then honey is another thing I love to use. It's natural and it's not too sweet. I put a little bit of salt and coffee in that to infuse it, then creme de peche and Florida peach for garnish.

What will help you win in Chicago?

I need to have a good story. I want to do that if I can, to make it personal and relatable.

   
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