Learn to make the perfect cocktail, a ‘vacation in a glass,’ at this new Baton Rouge store

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Maranda Howell has a master’s degree in library and information science and has been a librarian for 15 years.

The beach has long been her favorite place, but a few years ago, she didn’t like cocktails. Somewhere along the way, that changed.

Now, she’s put her passions — libraries, research, the beach, and cocktails — together to develop The Tipsy Librarian, an iconic craft cocktail experience and consulting business in Baton Rouge.

The brick-and-mortar store held a soft opening for the small business on Saturday, November 25.







Tipsy librarian Maranda Howell adds tequila to a mixing cup at the new store’s bar area Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.




Instead of connecting customers to the library, she now connects customers to liqueurs, bitters, syrups, garnishes and more in her cocktail classes.

“Yes, I jumped out of a plane mid-life. I didn’t know I was going to do it but I dared to dream,” the 49-year-old said. “The bottom line is you’re never too old to dream a new dream.”

Librarian-turned-physician

During the outbreak, Howell honed her mixing skills by taking masterclasses and experimenting with recipes. She created an Instagram with @641.874 — the library’s call-in number for cocktail recipe books — to showcase her drinks.

When she moved her son to college at the University of South Carolina, she ordered a “beautifully balanced and elegantly garnished cocktail” at the Motor Company Bistro during a memorable moment. At that time, Josh Streetman took over the bar program.







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Amy Tollivar and friends from Maranda Howell’s cocktail making class will be participating.




“I fell in love,” she said. I was hooked, and begged the master mediumist to teach me a class. After a while, he did.”

Howell began teaching at customers’ homes and at Bites and Boards, a cheese and charcuterie boutique in Willow Grove that has since closed and converted to mobile catering.

In her class, Howell explains the role of each cocktail component. Participants choose three drinks, and Howell teaches them the process, ingredients and more. In the end, customers leave home with a sense of cooking and confidence.

“I joke that I’m still doing the same thing at the end of the day,” Howell said. “A librarian is always trying to connect their users with what they need. I do it differently.”







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Amy and Steve Tollivar served drinks they made at one of Maranda Howell’s tipsy librarian’s home classes.




Amy Tollivar has taken Howell’s three classes, learning a new recipe or skill each time. For example, Tolivar learned that “correct measurement and ingredients make all the difference in the world.”

She’s made cocktails like a gin fizz, several margaritas and a Spanish gin and tonic, which she says she recognizes as gin. She also bought equipment from Howell to make cocktails at home.

“I make her cocktails at least once a week,” Tolivar said. “It’s a lot of fun, and I really enjoy everything she’s taught me.”

Tollivar appreciates that Howell’s lessons are personal, educational, fun and easy.







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Tipsy librarian Maranda Howell adds decorations to drinks in the new store’s bar area Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.




What makes a well balanced cocktail?

While chefs have a large canvas for cooking, mediums have a canvas measured in ounces. They have to balance sweet and sour in a glass, pour the right amount of drink and make it beautiful.

Howell says the most important tip for creating a balanced cocktail is to first understand the ingredients – what they are, how they work and what the notes are. Each component contributes to the overall balance and flavor of the cocktail.

For example, citrus provides acidity that creates different qualities and flavors. However, once you cut a citrus, it begins to oxidize and lose its acidity, Howell says. Do not use citrus that has been cut or squeezed within 12 hours. By then, she says, citrus would have lost the ability to provide proper sourness.







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A drink composition adorns one of the classroom tables at the Tipsy Library in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Monday, Nov. 20, 2023.




“I’m sure that a lot of times when we’re making cocktails, depending on when the lemon or lime juice is squeezed, it might not really be what it’s intended to be,” Howell said.

If you’re thinking of measuring with your heart, don’t. Howell’s Accurate Measurement ensures consistency throughout your cocktail.

She also explained that trademarks are important because each spirit is distilled and created differently. However, this does not mean that the most expensive is always the best. She tells her class participants to always ask the bartender for the ingredients and brands to use if they have an amazing cocktail somewhere.

“Cocktail making should be magical, but not mysterious,” she said.







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Tipsy Librarian Monday, November 20, 2023 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.




A break in the glass

At Tipsy Librarian Howell offers her signature personal cocktail pieces, from retail items such as jewelry, syrups, bitters, books and cocktail making equipment.

Located at 7450 Jefferson Highway, Suite 375 in the Towne Center is a happy place for Howell, the beach. Filled with rattan pieces, shell chandeliers, carpeting and plants, the interior is a tropical environment.

In the future, Howell wants to bring in guest teachers to develop the learning community. She is also coordinating with City Group Catering to provide menu options for attendees.







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Tipsy Librarian Lounge area on Monday, November 20, 2023 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.




With each class Howell teaches, she hopes to elevate Baton Rouge as a cocktail community while teaching the art of mingling.

“Cocktails should be a vacation in a glass,” she said. “It should be a break from everyday life.”

Persons under the age of 21 may not enter the Tipsy Library. The place is not a walk-in bar. Hours are Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.



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