The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2018

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30  /  the tasting panel  /  october 2018 We've partnered with Chef's Roll & Somm's List, the global culinary and wine professional networks, to learn more about beverage experts from across the country. If you are a mixologist or wine professional interested in being featured here or want more information on Chef's Roll and Somm's List, please email ALEXA DELGADO Lead Bartender at Lightkeepers at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne in Miami, FL What sets the Miami bar scene apart from those in other major cities? Miami itself is a loud and vibrant city built up of different neighborhoods—all with their own personality and energy—and I would have to say the same is true for our drinking culture. As a tropical destination, we're known for frozen drinks served in carved-out fruits with tiny umbrellas; we've also had this reputation of being a crazy party city full of nightclubs. Over the last few years, however, we've seen this emergence of crafted cock- tails, spirits, and beer. We have hundreds of brewers, bartenders, and distillers looking to create products that are unique to our city and showcase the person- alities of these different areas. Then aside from all of that, we also have plenty of room for all the classic dive bars, so it's really a city made for people with all sorts of different tastes. Do you incorporate any unconventional techniques into your cocktails at Lightkeepers? I've always been a little apprehensive about using fire or dry ice in a cocktail, given the level of safety we need while handling and serving it. However, we've offered a few featured cocktails at the bar that use different styles of produc- tion methods. We recently created a cocktail using oleo saccharum, which we prepped and batched with a sous-vide device. It cut preparation time way down. We also play around with dilution: While a regular ice cube is going to melt and water down a drink, we offer a cocktail that has lime juice/elderflower/coconut water cubes in it, so as they melt the flavor profile of the drink changes. PHOTO: ALEXA CHRISTENSEN PHOTO: JOHN PUGH STEVEN AIGNER Mixologist/Bar Manager at The River Grill in Newburgh, NY Tell us about your experience thus far with The River Grill and what distinguishes its cocktail program. My experience at The River Grill has been great—it's the place where I started. I left briefly last June and worked until September at Liberty Street Bistro in Newburgh, helping them start their bar program. When I came back in September 2017, I was made Manager and Head Bartender. What separates our drinks from the other restaurants in the area is that everything we use is made in-house, including syrups and purees. We also try and use liqueurs you don't typically see at places in the area. How have you adjusted your style as a mixologist to serve a place as diverse as New York? Especially in the Hudson Valley, a lot of residents aren't from here, so the way I've adapted that to my style is trying to showcase the actual flavors of the area itself. Coming into the fall, we use a lot of local apples and pears to bring a seasonal look to the drink list that shows what the Hudson Valley has to offer.

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