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Editor's Note: This story is unlocked for everyone to read courtesy of the CRVA, our partner in nourishing culinary exploration for residents and visitors of the Queen City.

April 17, 2024

Behind the Stick: Yolanda Gregg – Mariposa

USBG national champion will compete in Portugal this fall

by TM Petaccia

National bartending champion Yolanda Gregg of Mariposa. TM Petaccia/UP

“Behind the stick” originally comes from taphouses, as in pulling the draft beer taps, but has been adapted over the years as an industry-wide term for who is working the bar. This series profiles working bartenders in the Charlotte area to learn a bit more about them and what you can expect when they are behind the stick.

This week, we spoke with Yolanda Gregg, mixologist at Uptown’s Mariposa. Gregg recently took home national honors as the Classic Cocktail Champion at the United States Bartenders Guild “Shake it Up” competition in Las Vegas last month. She will represent the USA at the International Bartenders Association global competition in Madeira, Portugal, later this year. “I am honored to represent my country this coming fall,” she says.

Where are you from originally?
Sumter, South Carolina.

What got you into bartending?
I was working at O’Charley’s in Columbia, SC in 2008. My manager at the time needed someone to fill in for a shift. I volunteered and have been bartending ever since.

What was your first restaurant/bar job?
Quincy’s Steakhouse as a cashier in 1999 in Sumter, S.C.

How would you describe your bartending style?
I think I have a versatile bartending style and can work in almost any setting.

What spirit are you currently into right now?
Aged rum! You can do so much with it, from a Mai Tai to an Old Fashioned. It’s a beautiful spirit.

Do you have a particular approach or philosophy when creating a new cocktail?
I try to do research on the newest trends while following the rules of the classics. I also try to put my personal touches on my cocktails.

What Charlotte-area bars do you like to go to when you’re not on the clock?
I’m always working so I don’t go out much, When I can, I like to check out Growlers Pourhouse, Vinyl, Haberdish, Fin & Fino, and others. There are way too many options to list.

What’s your favorite cocktail?
A good Paloma is a nice, easy, refreshing cocktail that is always a fan favorite. It makes me think of warm weather, instantly putting me in a good mood.

Anything else you’d like us to know?
I am a classically trained musician who has played the euphonium since the age of 11. I currently perform with the Charlotte Pride Band.

Recipe for the home bartender

The Paloma Santa
2 oz. tequila or mezcal
0.5 oz. fresh lime juice
0.5 oz. agave syrup
grapefruit soda, such as Jarritos or Mexican Squirt

Salt the rim of a Collins glass (optional). Put tequila (or mezcal), juice, and syrup into a shaker or mason jar with a lid with fresh ice, then shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice, preferably crushed ice, into glass. Top off with grapefruit soda.


Check out our other Behind the Stick bartender profiles.

Posted in: Cocktails, Latest Updates, News, Recipes