What’s in Your Flask, Christian Hershman?



Christian Hershman of State Street Eating House is a prominent restaurateur, chef and mixologist. After interviewing him, it would be just as easy to see him as a historian or a professor. Being passionate about the past when it comes to food and drinks is an understatement. And as the owner of more than 100 bow ties, he just needs a corduroy jacket with patches on the elbows to complete the look. Maybe a pipe.

He started in the kitchen when he was 19-years-old at the former Sarasota restaurant, Ally Cat Cafe. Christian said he has always had a knack for food. He claims it is because he is very visual. Not referencing just how it should be arranged on plate. “I can look at ingredients and in my minds eye see the result.” He doesn’t even have to taste as he goes along. All his training was on the job and he credits many for their guidance.

As the title of this category, “What’s In Your Flask?” we thought this question would be a simple. After all, he has 77 Gins available at his establishment. If there is a Gin that is imported into Florida, he has it. So yes, Gin would be in his flask. But he does have his favorites. “They change with my mood,” he says. “But if I had to pick my top three right now they would be Beefeater, Bombay Dry and St. Augustine.”

While he understands junipers and loves how he can dig into the past, at the end of the day he says he likes Gin for the taste and it’s what he drank with his buddies when he discovered liquor (at an age we won’t disclose!).

“I view our past as a more thoughtful time,” he says. “So when I started putting the bar menu together I knew I wanted to introduce the classic cocktails back into the market.”

His purpose is to recreate some of the good from the past, because he believes things are more complicated now. He wants to bring back the simple pleasures.

“And as a cook, I knew I didn’t want to serve sour mix. It was a simple decision. We weren’t going to serve crappy mixers when we are baking fresh bread, making soups, cutting fish and meat and making everything else to order.”

A lot of the cocktails he is serving are directly out of Jerry Thomas’, “Bartender Guide”, from 1862. Cocktails that have been gone for a while will be brought back.  “It’s an ode to the past,” he says.

Part of his passion for Gin is because of its history. He’s a self-proclaimed history geek. Christian is by far one of the most knowledgable people we’ve ever met. He’s like a walking Wikipedia, and considers each bottle like a time machine. In fact, we’ve asked him to write for this blog on the topic. Keep your fingers crossed that he finds the time.

He’s also one of the few Sake certified specialists in the state. But that’s a whole ‘nother story!

If you’re in the Sarasota area, be sure to stop by his Downtown Sarasota place. He recently expanded and you can see the showcase of all his Gins as well as Bourbon, Rye, Vodka, etc. They can not only make you an amazing craft cocktail, but sell you a bottle (or two!).

“The era of the cocktail is back,” he claims. “Cocktails are not going away. They are here to stay.” And that makes us very happy.


State Street Gins

 Photos by Jaysen Ward.


  • Andy August 20, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Ok – I would love to see Christian’s recommendation from Jerry Thomas’, “Bartender Guide”, from 1862! I am a fan both of Gin and classic cocktails and want to see what he cooks up!

    • Kim & Robert August 20, 2014 at 2:33 pm

      Great question! We do know that State Street Eating House has become famous for their delicious Brambles. But we will ask Christian and get back to you soon. Cheers!

    • Kim & Robert August 23, 2014 at 12:48 am

      These new recommendations will be added to the bar menu at State Street’s new lounge:

      Clover Club (old drink from Philly) Nolet Gin, House Grenadine, Egg Whites, Lemon Juice
      Ramos Fizz (old drink from New Orleans) St. Augustine Gin, Cream, Lemon Juice, Orange Flower Water
      Gin Daisy (very old version 1850’s cocktail) Gordons Gin, Lemon Juice, Dry Curacao, soda water


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