Leslie Kirchhoff is a true artist. We fell for the distinctive aesthetic of her photography and swooned over her skills as a DJ. Then we saw her unique cocktail recipes and custom ice cubes, which can only be described as pieces of art, and we were even more inspired. She truly has the exceptional ability to showcase her creativity at every turn. We sat down with the entrepreneur, Vogue.com contributor, and all-around cool girl to discuss cocktail culture and using ice as an artistic canvas, music, and her favorite ways to relax after a long night out. She even created a recipe for a lavender-based nightcap and a sleep ritual playlist, just for us.
You got your start as a DJ — how did that influence your love of cocktail culture?
Well, it really opened my eyes to the cocktail world since it allowed me to taste so many of them! It was such a cool opportunity to be able to try all these beautifully crafted $18 drinks without having to pay that price tag—praise the DJ God for creating drink tickets!
Boom Boom Room (The Top of The Standard) was my first DJ residency in New York, and I spun there every Friday night for 5 hours straight, so it wasn’t long until I had tried everything on the cocktail list. That space and time in my life definitely had a huge influence on Disco Cubes as a whole, even though I didn’t realize it in the moment.
What sorts of things can we expect to be in your new cocktail book?
Visually pleasing photos, fun facts about disco and ice, a broad range of ice and drink recipes, and disco-centric playlists.
What drew you to ice as your artistic medium?
What’s funny is that Disco Cubes was mainly a hobby and a product idea for a few years, and I hadn't thought much about what I would do with it artistically. Somehow ice just felt like something that would be fun to explore and play around with, since it was a pretty untapped idea at that time.
It wasn’t until maybe three years in that I had the realization that I could be my own ultimate dream client. At the time I was filling my days with portraiture for magazines and other commercial photography work that paid the bills but left me feeling like I had abandoned my creativity in favor of a paycheck. I was permanently stressed, unhappy with my portfolio, and unsure what I wanted my future to look like. But one night, the whole world of Disco Cubes popped into my head with all these crazy and long term ideas (like a never-ending disco spy film), and from there I realized that Disco Cubes could be so much more than just a product.
How did you first discover that you could customize ice to create these mini artisanal works of art? It's such a unique concept!
I suppose by realizing that the cube itself is just the container for whatever you put inside, like a tiny 3-dimensional blank canvas where gravity doesn’t quite exist.
What are your favorite ways to unwind after a long night of DJing?
Movies in bed, or lately a nice bath. Or, dare I admit, the Bon Appétit YouTube channel.
You have such a cool vibe and Disco Cubes has a definite aesthetic — tell us a little bit about your personal style philosophy.
It’s definitely a vibe that has slowly crept into my life. In general, I keep my personal style very simple — jeans and tees are my daily go-to, but I do love getting dressed up for gigs and events. When I worked at Vogue.com in New York, I tried out some pretty laughable looks to wear into the office. It was a good period of experimentation, but I ultimately realized that I’d rather keep it classic.
We love throwing a holiday cocktail party — as a DJ, what are some of your favorite playlist songs for creating the right vibe?
My trick is to not overdo it with the Christmas songs, and rather play songs that create a similar nostalgic vibe. A few favs are “Tell It Like It Is” by Aaron Neville, “Be Bop A Lula” by Gene Vincent, and “Crazy” by Patsy Cline. Listen to my playlist here :)
Tell us your favorite unexpected ingredient to use in a cocktail.
Hmm… maybe radish. I made a radish simple syrup for a drink in the book called Dr. Dragon, which also has miso-butter-washed Suntory Whisky. It may sound a little off-putting, but it’s actually a really great drink.
What is the perfect nightcap to end a long day? We're feeling pleasantly sleepy just thinking about it...
I’m a sucker for a dessert drink, so I came up with this creamy lavender guy last week. The lavender cherry base can be delicious on its own, too, as a booze-free version. But add a little bit of honey to sweeten it up, since the Amaretto is what brings the sweetness to the final cocktail.
Lavender Cherry Nightcap
by Leslie Kirchhoff
Lavender Cherry Base
1 bunch fresh lavender
½ cup pitted dark cherries (fresh or frozen)
2 cups whole milk
Pinch of Maldon sea salt
2 oz. Lavender Cherry Base
1½ oz. Amaretto
1 dash Scrappy's Cardamom Bitters
Egg white (1 egg white can make 2 drinks)
Floral Disco Cube
-In a small saucepan set over medium heat, combine all lavender cherry base ingredients and stir to combine. Just before boiling, reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a lidded container and store in the fridge for up to a week.
-In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine all cocktail ingredients except the egg white. Shake for 15 seconds, then remove the ice from the shaker. Add egg white and shake vigorously for another 15 seconds, then pour into glass. Garnish with fresh lavender and floral Disco Cube.