Suburban mixologist thriving through demand for virtual gatherings
A global pandemic was bound to have an impact on the work of a mixologist dedicated to creating original cocktails for special events.
But for one as adaptable as Cheryl Rich Heisler of Glencoe, the boom in virtual events has provided her business Mixed metaPours significant growth of its national and international clientele.
The former big-law attorney recently received a request from Switzerland that she's working on now.
The major change for such virtual events -- whether near or far -- is that the distribution of ingredients to participants occurs in advance so that they can be carefully shown how to mix the drink Heisler has designed.
Faith Bugay of Northbrook said these arrangements worked out well when 10 women volunteers from her group Glenbrook Mikvah recently hired Heisler to create a drink for a celebratory virtual gathering.
The cocktail Heisler came up with was named "The Girlie Girl," a riff on an old fashioned, which met Bugay's request for a "wow factor," having a layered color pattern.
"We're also a kosher group, and she was very conscious of that," Bugay said of Heisler. "She prepared a recipe for everyone and printed it up in a cute bow. She had a lot of knowledge about the drink and how it came about, and also had a nonalcoholic version of it. Everybody really enjoyed it. She was definitely very engaging."
Bugay added that Heisler was patient and helpful during the virtual event, and no one was put off by the task of having to mix their own layered drink.
Heisler said people's openness to virtual events has been the recent silver lining for her business, coming from a pent-up demand for socialization after the early months of the pandemic when things had slowed down considerably for her.
"The nice thing about what I do is that people can still connect," Heisler said. "You can make your event as low-key or highbrow as possible."
She most enjoys the outlet for creativity that comes with the job of creating signature cocktails for events. One of the aims is to capture the theme, perhaps even tying into the colors of a company's logo for a corporate event.
She also serves as the mixologist for the Writers Theatre in Glencoe where people bring their children, which gave rise to another priority of Mixed metaPours.
"I always do mocktails as well," Heisler said. "It's a challenge, but we can do it about 95% of the time. At least the look of the drink can be the same. How do we make the mocktail equally special?"
Her creations also take other dietary restrictions into account, including catering to gluten-free events.
Heisler's move from law to her current business took its first step when she went to work for Kraft Foods in 1985. Her work as an attorney had largely involved corporate securities.
"I liked the people, but not the work," she said. "I realized I needed a career transition."
In 1988 she started her first business, which still exists. Lawternatives was set up to help attorneys like herself find different career paths in which their personal and professional skills could be well applied.
In 2011, while her son was looking for a job in sports journalism, he signed up to take a mixology class as a backup. She decided to sign up with him, but he found a job in his field shortly afterward.
She took the class. He didn't.
Mixed metaPours began to take off in 2015, and Heisler said she couldn't be happier about where her departure from practicing law has taken her.
"When I first got out of law, I thought I'd go into the ice cream business," she said with a laugh. "Nobody goes to jail or bankrupt after a day at this job. At the end of the day, if a client is happy, I'm happy. When I've done my job right, the event ends with everyone smiling and that's a great feeling."
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