The Riff

Mixing Up Wonderland with Worship Chaleka

By: Emily Havener

Meet Worship Chaleka, the Charleston mixologist infusing wintery spirits with childhood memories

Worship Chaleka at the bar, Proof, in Charleston

In between college semesters, Worship Chaleka worked as a barback at Olive Garden in Jacksonville, Florida—and one day, none of the bartenders showed up after a big night out together. “I was the only person on staff for that shift who knew my way around the bar, so I just kind of stepped in and never left after that,” he says.

Since then, he’s bartended in New York while interning for Condé Nast, worked for a moonshine distribution company in Texas, received a “crash course in wine” while living with family in South Africa, and finally landed in Charleston, where his mother’s family
lives. He continues to travel for inspiration and is currently tending the bar at Proof, doing local consulting for cocktail menus, and hosting community art and cocktail gatherings.

“Two of my favorite cocktails are always going to be a negroni and a boulevardier,” Worship Chaleka says. “They’re essentially the same thing. You’re just switching gin for bourbon.” In winter he likes a boulevardier’s heat from bourbon or rye, and he also thinks it’s a great cocktail when you need something foolproof: “Nobody should be able to mess it up. You can’t really
go wrong.”

For those who enjoy a little bit of a challenge, his punch recipe infuses Frosted Flakes into milk as the base. “It was an inspiration of what I really liked as a child around Christmas,” Chaleka says. “I had gotten into making a few milk punches at a previous job, and I came up with this wild idea. You can feel like a kid and have fun with it.”

Worship Chaleka’s Favorite Winter Cocktail Recipes

A midnight clear cocktail by Worship Chaleka

A Midnight Clear

This winter cocktail has a base like no other — Frosted flakes infused into milk. Not only will it wake a childhood memory or two, it will be one of the most unique flavors you’ve tasted.

boulevardier by Worship Chaleka

Worship Chaleka’s Boulevardier

Made as a twin to the classic Negroni, the Boulevardier uses bourbon instead of gin as its base. This easy-to-make classic is for everyone and provides the perfect cozy and warm feeling on a cold winter evening.

Partrige in a Pear Tree

Made with dehydrated pear thyme syrup, this cocktail is perfect for those with a bit of a sweet tooth.

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