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ITHACA, N.Y. — Gola Osteria possesses one of Ithaca’s few constantly rotating cocktail lists, but one fixture has remained the same since opening day: its bartender.

Kyle Smalt is the one and only man behind the bar at Gola.

A bartender for five years and in the restaurant business for 10, Smalt prefers to make sure there is something for everyone — from the bubbly-inclined to the whiskey drinkers.

When Ithaca Voice Dining visited on a (finally!) warm afternoon, he managed to hit both notes simultaneously.

The “Old Sport,” he said, was inspired by the Baz Luhrmann adaption of The Great Gatsby, in which the titular Gatsby offers toast after toast in a Roaring Twenties-era coupe glass.

Smalt is partial to whiskey, hence the Bulleit Rye, lightened up significantly with the addition of lavender cola syrup and Prosecco.

The result is surprisingly summery and quaffable, reminiscent of a floral rum and Coke.

Smalt also prepared a “Stolen Dance,” devised when the Milky Chance hit song came on the radio at work, naturally resulting in an impromptu staff dance session.

The drink is an Italian twist on a mojito, using Flor de Cana rum but substituting basil for mint, and layering on a bitter orange undercurrent with the Italian aperitif liqueur Aperol.

Served in a highball, the drink is at once assertive and refreshing — yes, you are drinking a cocktail; now it’s time to eat.

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Gola Osteria

115 South Quarry Street, Ithaca, NY |14850 | (607) 273-0333 Enjoy our unique and expansive dinner menu, our well-curated Italian and Finger Lakes wine list, and a rotating selection of both inventive and...

Jennifer Wholey

Jennifer Wholey is a feature writer and Head of Dining Partnerships for the Ithaca Voice. Contact her at