Q&A with Mouton's Cris Dehlavi

Shelley Mann, Columbus Alive

Columbus' best-known cocktail connoisseur is now part of the team at the city's classic cocktail headquarters. Cris Dehlavi, head bartender for M and Middle West Spirits, started in April as Mouton's bar manager (don't worry, she's staying on at M, too).

She's been adding signature drinks to the menu, many featuring Middle West's locally made Oyo spirits. I checked in to find out what's next for Mouton.

Why the new job? Mouton has something no one else in this town has, that classic cocktail feel. It's such a cool space, a beautiful location. There's not a lot of frill, but there doesn't need to be. This is a great opportunity for me to spread my wings and do some creative things.

What's your approach to cocktails? I'm a big history buff with Prohibition-era drinks. M is the kind of place where we would take a classic cocktail and put a modern twist on it. At Mouton, we keep it classic. And we really focus on anything local. We serve Watershed's gin and vodka, and I'd like to see Brothers Drake mead in here.

What can we expect to see coming up? For spring and summer, we're planning punch. In New York and Chicago, punch is the rage--you do a bowl of punch and it's meant for three to six people. It's a great for getting people to gather. We'll probably do different kinds, a bourbon-based bunch and another with rum.

You guys do wine, too, right? Owner Yusef Riazi does a great job of getting some really wonderful wines. Artisan vineyards and boutique wines you don't see anywhere else. We're doing $10 off bottles of wine on Tuesdays to try to build that aspect as well.

What else is new? Happy hour, which Mouton had not had. Tuesday through Friday from 5-7 p.m., it's $2 off all the vintage cocktails.