The Bar, Examined

9.10.2009

By Bill Keith

Take It From the Pros

International mixologists give it to us straight up.

Kirk Estopinal, Cure, New Orleans
Secret weapon: Marie Brizard Apry apricot brandy
Drink on the brink: The Blue Train (equal parts gin, cr'me de violette, lemon, and Cointreau)
Should be extinct: The dirty martini
Secret to a good martini: Fresh vermouth
Pet peeve: Someone who says 'I know the owner' and expects a comp.
Worst pickup line: 'Do you like cats? Wanna come over and pet mine?'

Brian McGrory, Double Crown, New York City
Secret weapon: Cape gooseberries. Everyone loves them'they're sweet, sour, and have a beautiful orange color.
Drink on the brink: Pisco is the new vodka.
Should be extinct: The Manhattan
Secrets to a good martini: The chilled martini glass, and using large cubed ice to shake. Shake really hard for about 20 seconds to super chill. And always use nice Italian olives.
Pet peeve: Asking for Malibu, Midori, or a Sex on the Beach
Worst pickup line: A $100 bill with a phone number on it

Marco Dionysos, Clock Bar, Westin St. Francis, San Francisco
Secret weapon: Champagne can balance a cocktail that is too sweet, while adding a touch of elegance.
Drink on the brink: The caipirinha. Cacha'a is coming on strong in the U.S., with plenty of premium brands now available. The ingredients are common, and there are endless possibilities for variation.
Should be extinct: The apple martini. Every trend from locavore to farm-to-table is about fresh, and nothing about the 'appletini' is fresh at all.
Secrets to a good martini: Stir in a chilled metal shaker and use vermouth, unless you use vodka. Keep the olives cold, so the drink you took the trouble to get icy isn't shocked back to room temperature by the garnish.
Pet peeve: When a customer asks for a drink recommendation, doesn't like it, wants to 'trade it in,' and still wants another recommendation.
Worst pickup line: 'Got a little Irish in you? Want some?'

Pete Jeary, Hawksmoor, London
Secret weapon: Noilly Prat Ambre. Awesome complexity, long dry finish, superb over ice, amazing in cocktails.
Drink on the brink: The Artist's Special. It's actually a revival: scotch, sherry, lemon, raspberry syrup.
Should be extinct: Surely the world must be sick of Sex and the City by now? The original 1933 Cosmopolitan recipe (using gin, not vodka) is much better.
Secret to a good martini: Patience, care, love. And for me, Beefeater 24.
Pet peeve: Bad manners
Worst pickup line: I did have a very cute Hollywood starlet tell me I had nice hands and that I probably knew what to do with them. Pretty corny, but that said, it worked.

Massimo 'Max' Greco, Bayswater Brasserie, Sydney
Secret weapon:
Bitters. When making a drink for a knowledgeable drinker, a selectively placed drop or two can balance the tartness of citrus and the sweetness of sugar, soften heavy spirits, and create magic!
Drink on the brink: Between the Sheets -- a great mix of cognac and rum (try agricole) finished with orange and citrus notes
Should be extinct: Vodka-based cocktails are on the way out.
Secret to a good martini: Always ask customers how they like it. Then it's in their hands.
Pet peeve: Mentioning the spirit ingredient last when ordering a drink.
Worst pickup line:
'What kind of berries do you like?' ('Why?') 'So I know what to put on your pancakes tomorrow morning.'

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