Alumnus Profile: Charles Shelton Earns Cocktail Celebrity

by Emily Contois

Charles Shelton’s love of the sensory experience of food (a.k.a. eating delicious food) grew over time into a gastronomic intellectual curiosity. “Food embodies values,” he says. “By studying food, we can experience the diversity of how people have engaged with food over time.”

After attending Ithaca College, Charles’ intellectual food yearnings were satiated when he began the MLA Gastronomy program in June 2008. After completing the culinary certificate, studies in cheese, and a variety of courses in which he explored the aesthetic dimension of gastronomy, he graduated in May 2010. He credits Rebecca Alssid for engaging the best of Boston in the Gastronomy program, which greatly contributed to the quality of his education. After working at L’Espalier in Boston, Charles relocated to Austin, Texas, where he most recently worked at Uchi, a 2011 James Beard Award Winner.

Charles has also earned cocktail celebrity. He competed at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference held Saturday January 28, 2012. Among stiff drinks and even stiffer competition, he earned third place in the Original Cocktail Competition. The event attracted more than 150 spectators who enjoyed the spirited competition, featuring 32 amateur and professional contestants from across the country.

The final contestant to prepare his drink for a local panel of blind taste testers, Charles was the only winner who is not a bartender by trade. When creating a new cocktail, he starts with a classic and applies a new perspective. He enjoys using inspired ingredients and flavors that have symmetry and complement one another, such as his winning cocktail, a twist on the classic Manhattan.

The Protestant

  • 1 ¼ oz. Sazerac Rye (or your favorite Rye)
  • 1 ¼ oz. Hendrick’s Gin
  • ½ oz. Carpano Antica Vermouth
  • ½ oz. Simple Syrup
  • 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 2 dashes Orange Bitters
  • Crème d’Yvette (Crème de Violette)

Chill a coupe glass with ice. Rinse coupe with Crème d’Yvette, discarding excess. Combine ingredients in mixer, shake vigorously with ice, strain into chilled rinsed coupe. Twist and flame orange rind over cocktail, wiping the rim with the flamed rind. Discard rind.

While we certainly wish we were like Shelton’s roommates who get to taste each of his cocktail experiments, we anticipate his future successes in the kitchen, behind the bar, and elsewhere in the world of food.

Emily is a current gastronomy student and graduate assistant, editing the Gastronomy at BU blog, January-August, 2012. Check out her research in food studies, nutrition, and public health on her blog,

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