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Cocktails with Petit & Keet’s Benjamin Franks

Cocktails with Petit & Keet’s Benjamin Franks
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Over the past year, Little Rock’s Petit & Keet has quickly established itself as one of the most popular spots in town. The restaurant is comprised of various zones, from the more intimate, upscale dining area to a festive outdoor patio to bars where you can enjoy a glass of wine or even watch a game. Part of the restaurant’s early success has been a strong bar program, led by Beverage Director Benjamin Franks. I caught up with Benjamin to get his thoughts on the bar, some of its more popular offerings, and to see if he’d share with us a few cocktail recipes.

When did Petit & Keet open and when did you come on board?
We opened on May 18th of last year. I was hired on early that year in February to help with bar design and staff training.

Are you originally from Arkansas?
Yes, I’m born and raised in Arkadelphia, which was a dry county until my senior year in college. HSU!

The bar area at Petit & Keet is beautifully designed and seems like a popular place to hang out. What does working in that type of environment mean to you?
It is a daily reminder that someone took time and care in making such a beautiful place. It makes it easy to come to work and feel inspired to make creative drinks. Plus, large Edison bulbs just make you feel like you are working in secret laboratory.

Petit & Keet’s wine list is considered expansive and reasonably priced. What are some of the more popular wine offerings?
Our Chapoutier Rose and Double Lariat Cab are super popular. I don’t think I’ve seen a better price on Caymus or Twomey Pinot Noir anywhere. We love giving wine to the people. It is a beverage meant to be shared and celebrated.

You make an amazing Old Fashioned, but besides that, what are some drinks at Petit & Keet’s current cocktail menu? Care to share one of your cocktail recipes with us?
Nashville Was an Inside Job is a big one for us lately. It is essentially a decked out Manhattan with a backbone and includes 2 ounces of Belle Meade Bourbon, 1/2 ounce of Carpano Anitca Sweet Vermouth, 1/4 ounce of Bigallet China-China Amer Liqueur, and a bar spoon of Amaro Lucano.

I’ve yet to try Nashville Was an Inside Job but did get a chance to watch Benjamin construct a Valiant Lord. The recipe is below, includes just a few easy-to-find ingredients at your local liquor store, and is definitely drink to consider making at home. Better yet, go see Benjamin Franks at Petit & Keet and have him make you one.

Valiant Lord

Ingredients:
1 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Cognac
1 1/2 oz Aperol
3/4 oz Lucano Amaro
St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram rinse

Directions:
Stir all of the ingredients (minus Allspice Dram) over ice until cold. Rinse a rox glass with the Allspice Dram. Pour over a big cube, express orange peel and garnish.

Petit & Keet
1620 Market St (Little Rock)
Phone: (501) 319-7675
Hours: Monday-Thursday 4 p.m.-10 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 4 p.m.-11 p.m.