Former member of pop legends *NSYNC (and general man about town thanks to his appearances on television and in film) Lance Bass knows how to have some no strings attached fun with cocktails.
“For the last year I’ve really been on a cocktail adventure,” he said. Part of that adventure — outside of drinking a wide variety of cocktails — was starting a cocktail mixers line with partner Jax Taylor (of Vanderpump Rules) called Just Add X (Jax, for short).
“We created a mixers line for really bad bartenders. We have a lot of great mixologist friends that we’ve worked with for a while to come up with the final flavors, which will launch at the end of this summer,” he said.
It makes sense, then, that when Bass was approached by Stoli to guest judge the Key West Cocktail Classic, the largest LGBTQ bartending competition in the country, he didn’t drive himself crazy thinking of an answer.
“Stoli came to me to be their special guest judge at the Key West Cocktail Classic Finale and I was all about it,” he said. “I’ve been a fan of Stoli my whole life because I love my vodka and they’ve also been amazing with, and very supportive of, my community, the LGBT community.”
Taking place in mid-June as part of Pride month, Bass said he was looking for something new in a cocktail.
“I want to be surprised,” he said at the time. “Like I said I’ve been tasting fun ingredients all year long. I’ve been surprised by what works and what doesn’t and I hope someone surprises me with something I haven’t tried before.”
The competition winner, Sam Benedict, must’ve done just that with his drink, as he won $10,000 for Gays Against Guns and $5,000 for Habitat for Humanity Key West while second place winners Joshua Simmons and Bobby Vargas won $5,000 for Dallas’s Resource Center and San Diego’s Human Dignity Foundation, respectively. They also won $5,000 for MCC Key West and Sister Season Fund.
This one guest judge appearance and the mixers line, though, aren’t the only ways Bass has been or will continue to be involved in the drinks community, as he just opened Rocco’s WeHo (in West Hollywood), which sits practically at the entrance to the city’s Pride festivities.
And as for what Bass will be drinking during Pride, he’s all about summer flavors and Moscow mules.
“I like things that taste good, I’m always looking for fun flavor combinations. One of my favorites, especially for the summer, is strawberry and basil.”
It’s a good thing, then, that one of the Just Add X mixers, Berry Smashed, is flavored exactly like that. (The others are Stubborn Mule (ginger-lime), South of the Border (jalapeño-cucumber), and Blue TeaZ (blueberry-tea).
The last thing we (read: The Manual’s food and drink editor Sam Slaughter) had to know — What are his thoughts on the ‘90s coming back?
“The ’90s was such a fun decade. It’s crazy because when we lived in the ’90s, I remember thinking there is no way that this decade will ever be cool again,” he said. “It was the most eclectic weird decade, starting with grunge in Seattle and ending with pop like Britney Spears and *NYSNC.”
And as bad as the style was, he said, it’s fun to look back on it.
“I didn’t realize how much fun it was and how innocent it was at the time. I think everyone is so into the 90s nostalgia right now because they want to go back to an innocent time of their life where it was a little easier. There were no cell phones. I think that’s what everyone is craving right now.”
That love has extended to new fans of pop, too, as Bass and his group mates have helped to inspire others in the same vein.
“I think it’s great that people [such as Ariana Grande] are finding inspiration in ’90s things and it’s great to see her fans finding that ’90s culture, too.”