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Bellying up with …
On Fridays, we’ll spotlight the men and women serving up cold ones and conversation in our neck of the woods. Let us know about your favorite bartender by emailing [email protected].
The Literary holds a bar, coffee shop, bookstore and restaurant — and 23-year-old Jordan Kelsey gets the credit for the entire drink menu.
Her drinks are inspired by seasonal ingredients as well as current trends.
“Anytime a drink takes over the Internet, I think about how I could put my own spin on it,” Kelsey said.
Kelsey uses her experience in the food and beverage industry to design not just cocktails, but coffee and tea drinks as well.
“Once there’s a recipe in mind, it’s just a matter of trial and error,” Kelsey said. “My coworkers are my trusty guinea pigs, so nothing goes onto the menu until I’ve heard most everyone’s honest feedback.”
Kelsey was born in San Francisco but grew up in Belleville. She came to the Lit by way of Hopscotch, where she started working in 2022, a year after earning her psychology degree from the University of Illinois.
When Hopscotch closed out of its shared location with the Literary, she decided to stay in the same spot.
Kelsey has endless good things to say about the Literary: it’s multifaceted, inclusive and unique.
“As a queer person, I feel very privileged and proud to work for a business that is uplifting and supporting marginalized folks of all backgrounds,” she said.
She’s a reader, so the Lit seems like an obvious place for her to work, but she loves the bartending job as a chance to be creative and make customers happy.
“There’s something sacred about preparing and serving a handcrafted drink to someone and that’s recognized and celebrated in many cultures,” Kelsey said.