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Bartender James Estes shakes up one of the "25 Cocktails to Drink Before You Die"

James Estes, who runs a speakeasy in Dubai, stopped by Williams & Graham to make his cocktail, "Mother Superior."
James Estes, who runs a speakeasy in Dubai, stopped by Williams & Graham to make his cocktail, "Mother Superior."
Kevin Galaba

Combining work and play is a good gig -- if you can get it. Surprise guest bartenders James Estes and Jesse Estes, who are cousins, did just that Wednesday night at Williams & Graham. While visiting family in Colorado, the London- and Dubai-based bartenders slipped into work mode to deftly mix up some of their signature cocktails, including James's "Mother Superior," named one of the "25 cocktails to drink before you die" by the Huffington Post in February.

See also: Williams & Graham shakes up new cocktails for spring

Jesse Estes tends bar at El Nivel, in London. Jesse is James' cousin.
Jesse Estes tends bar at El Nivel, in London. Jesse is James' cousin.
Kevin Galaba

James was born in London, where his uncle owned a bar for many years. "I grew up in the restaurant business," he says. "I've just always been around the hospitality industry."

And he's always been a creative type. He tried a stint in the music business, but he missed being behind bar. "I got tired of the music industry," he says. "The bar industry is very creative. It's expressive. It drew me in."

It drew him to Dubai, where he helped open Suga, a speakeasy inside the Conrad Hotel. Suga opened in September and is Dubai's first cocktail-destination bar.

When a leg of the Bacardi Legacy cocktail competition rolled through Dubai, James submitted his now-famous cocktail recipe. "It's kind of cool," he says modestly of his rum-based drink, "Mother Superior." The drink contains Bacardi Superior rum, pink grapefruit juice, lime juice, orgeat, Campari and apricot jam.

"I love the restaurant industry," he says. "It's full of people who genuinely love what they do. It's like a family."

London-based Jesse Estes, serving his "Tequila Ocho Gimlet" at Williams & Graham.
London-based Jesse Estes, serving his "Tequila Ocho Gimlet" at Williams & Graham.
Kevin Galaba

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