Looking for mixology advice? We’ve got suggestions, straight from the mouths of pros.
A number of top-notch bartenders descended upon Kawa Ni in Westport, CT, on March 24, for the first of six Cocktail Wars hosted by the Asian Fusion restaurant. Naturally, these masters of mixology had a tip or two for the aspiring drink-maker.
Educate yourself on the basics and keep up with the trends. Read books and watch YoutTube videos, says Dimitrios Zahariadis (pictured above), co-founder TheCocktailChemist.com, and President of the U.S. Bartenders Guild Connecticut Chapter (USBG CT). In particular, bartender Jon Kraus recommends The Bar Book: Elements of Cocktail Technique, by Jeffrey Morgenthaler; The Bartender’s Choice App, by Sam Ross; and Liquid Intelligence: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail, by Dave Arnold.
“Definitely buy The Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide,” says James Menite, bartender, The Plaza Hotel in New York. “When I first started out, I yellow-Sharpied so much into that book. Now one of my recipes is in the book. My career has come a full 360 degrees.”
Balance your cocktail. “That’s the most important thing,” says Zahariadis. “It should equal parts sweet and sour. You want everything to be in harmony.”
Use a jigger. “It’s quality control, and it allows you to get exact proportions every time you make a cocktail,” says Chris Almeida, bartender, The Eddy, and President of USBG Rhode Island. “You can make the cocktail exactly the same way, every time. It eliminates a lot of the factors of variables. Friends don’t let friends not use jiggers.”
Keep it simple at cocktail competitions. “Sometimes, judges just want to see something that looks simple and tastes great, something that everybody would like and anybody could make,” says Almeida.
Be hospitable. “Never forget that we’re in the hospitality business — so smile,” says Carl Summa, co-founder TheCocktailChemist.com, and Vice President of USBG CT .
You should also learn to observe. “You can learn a lot at every bar you visit,” Kraus says.