“Dining out should be fun. Regardless of if you’re in jeans and a baseball hat or a three piece suit. There’s so many factors at play in the dining experience: the music, drink, service, food and so much more. They all blend together to help create a certain vibe. But there’s a few things I expect at the end of every meal with friends: I want my stomach to hurt from laughing and at least 3 empty bottles of wine.” – Josh Kauffman, Counting House Food & Beverage Director
Last Fall, we welcomed Josh Kauffman to our flock, and he’s been an invaluable addition to our team every day since. Originally a Kansas City native, Josh moved to the Triangle in 2012. He brings over 18 years of food and beverage experience with him, which shows in his energy and passion for our beverage program and the dining experience at Counting House. We recently sat down with Josh to talk all things beverage and what he’s most looking forward to sharing with our Durham community and travelers in the coming months.
21c: What’s your favorite drink to make at home?
JK: I’m always a fan of bubbles. I keep my wine fridge stocked with sparkling wine at all times. Given the choice I’d probably open a bottle of Loire Valley sparkling rose. I’m also a fan of the old school. If I am cooking dinner, I tend to pour myself a gin Gibson to start. And nothing beats a Manhattan made with Cynar instead of sweet vermouth.
21c: What’s your favorite drink at a local restaurant?
JK: I love Kingfisher. The vibe is always on point. As is the vinyl playing in the bathroom. Currently their Open Door Policy is my go to cocktail while I’m out. Its made with tequila, Conniption American dry gin, chili, lime husk agave & cucumber. Mateo would have to by my second favorite stop of the night.
21c: Favorite type of spirit?
JK: Irish whiskey. Neat. Red Breast 12 is my absolute favorite. Red Breast 15 if I’m feeling frisky, or if its payday. I’ve recently really gotten into tequila the past few years and appreciate the differences in each style.
21c: Ingredients you can’t live without?
JK: Hands down, Cynar. I find it to be such a versatile amaro. You can make so many cocktail riffs with it: flips, sours, daiquiris, spritz, negroni, juleps – the list goes on!
21c: What 3 things are always stocked in your bar at home?
JK: Espolon Reposado, Bombay Sapphire & cocktail onions.
21c: What’s your favorite food/drink city (to visit) and why?
JK: I have to give my hometown some much deserved love: Kansas City. The first thing I do when I get off a plane there is grab some real BBQ and a Boulevard Tank 7 on draft. The restaurant I helped open in 2010 had a well know speakeasy in our basement called Manifesto, where I first learned to love craft cocktails. (May it RIP). I came of age in my 20’s working and living in downtown and that time and those industry friends helped shape who I am today.
21c: What 3 words would you use to describe the current dining scene in Durham?
JK: Small, but mighty. Durham is home to so many innovative and creative restaurants. One of the things I love about the local restaurants is no one has an overwhelmingly large menu. They cook what they know, and they cook it well. And everyone is so supportive of each other. It really is a great place to live, or just spend a few days eating and drinking.
21c: Favorite thing to do in Durham on your day off?
JR: My partner and I love taking the pup out on the American Tobacco Trail for long walks. There is a trailhead right downtown. I also love spending the afternoon on the patio of my favorite dive bar, Accordian Club. I can sit out there and read or journal while enjoying a cheap cold beer and warm shot of whiskey.
21c: What drink starts your day? Ends your night?
JK: I used to not be able to start my day without coffee. Unfortunately my 30-something year old body has gotten super sensitive to caffeine to my dismay. I normally take down a 32 ounce bottle of water with some liquid IV hydration powder. Ends my night… If I am at home normally it is a glass of wine on the patio. If I am out and about, a dirty gin martini.
21c: Any new activations happening at Counting House this year?
Jk: Lots of things in the works. We are getting drag brunch up and going again. Everyone loves a good mimosas and some queens! Our Underground Cocktails Series will be making a comeback in the next month or so in our original bank vault. So stay tuned!