Josh Streetman, Barman at Motor Supply Co. Bistro, Cools Off with Local Seasonal Cocktails
Soaking Up the Sun: Cooling off with light and easy local cocktails
Smiling with just a touch of sunburn on his cheeks after an active outdoor weekend enjoying Columbia’s rivers and forests, Josh Streetman gives his take on Columbia’s steamy summer season:
“I like it when it gets super hot. I definitely have that thin Southern blood, so getting out on the water or being able to spend that backyard chillin’ time is something I look forward to all year.”
The award-winning head barman at Columbia’s Motor Supply Company Bistro in the Vista since 2012, Streetman delivers that sun-soaked feeling at the bar through his seasonally inspired cocktails:
“When summertime comes, I like to be a little more relaxed. I like to use fun ingredients, but I also want to make it nice and easy for people—not too challenging and really approachable. Our summer menu features drinks that are light and refreshing, pretty and colorful—with all the good local elements that really tie it all together.”
With his affable, easy-going way, Streetman is a natural behind the bar. Both humble and confident as he describes his process and methods, Streetman explains that Motor Supply Company’s focus on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients extends to the bar as well as the kitchen.
“We definitely discuss what our farms have available each week and plan the restaurant and cocktail menus based on that,” says Streetman. “Now that we’re finally getting some peaches in, we’re planning how we can best use them.”
The devastating impact of this year’s peach crop loss is being felt statewide, with up to 90% of the first crop destroyed during the unexpected deep freeze in March. An iconic sign of summer in South Carolina, peaches are in limited supply this season, which means that those that did survive the freeze are particularly valued. With an eye towards the second crop due in July and August, Streetman hopes to incorporate this local ingredient from places like Watsonia Farms into his signature cocktails such as Peach Smash.
Under Streetman’s direction, everything from the peaches to the garnishes to the home-crafted shrub syrups used in Motor Supply’s cocktails are locally sourced and produced. An avid gardener in his spare time, Streetman is eager to learn and try new things.
“Last year, I grew corn. This guy from Swansea taught me how to do it, and it ended up being awesome. We made street corn on the backyard grill and ate it for three or four weeks last summer. We grew green tomatoes and I pickled them for Bloody Mary garnishes here.”
One of the garnishes Streetman particularly enjoys using is thyme, which is featured in this season’s Blueberry Cobbler.
“Back when sherry was king, the cobbler was a classic cocktail and everyone was drinking it. I like to do variations using local ingredients like blueberry and thyme. Thyme is one of my favorite herbs. It’s easy to grow, it’s very fresh, and it almost has a citric element. It has a great nose, and it pairs really well with fresh blueberries. The sherry element adds a big backbone to the drink, and I like to add a good vegetal vodka, like the locally made Copper Horse.”
Living in the Rosewood community, Streetman can be spotted out running, often stopping by City Roots, Columbia’s in-town sustainable farm: “I love living in this community. City Roots is just a mile from my house, and I run by with my dogs all the time. I stop by there on the fly to pick up garnishes and things I need probably twice a week.”
Creating drinks that simply feel good on a hot day and feature locally driven innovation, Streetman is helping to move our city forward one refreshing sip at a time.