The SOMM Journal

August/September 2014

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11 8 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2014 TUCKED AWAY BEHIND A LOWER EAST SIDE DOOR marked only by its Please Knock Gently sign, Attaboy exudes rustic warmth, its stripped-down, elegant interior a cozy invi- tation to pull up a stool and chat. And that's just how they like it. There are no menus at this Manhattan watering hole, just conversations to inspire your next cocktail. And, we were so inspired that we pulled up our own chair to talk with bartender Otis Florence, part of the Attaboy team since just after its opening a year and a half ago. Depending on the night, Florence says, the crowd "varies, but is always fun." Some nights, it's super industry-focused; others, it's filled with cozy couples. And then there are the cocktail tour - ists—the true "nerds who are just so excited about everything you're doing." It's easy to understand why: The varied and well-curated backbar features spirits from Hibiki Whisky to fortified wines and Sherries (although, if you ask for vodka, you might find yourself gently redirected to, say, a pisco, of which Florence is a personal fan). Florence, in fact, spends part of his year in Peru as an assistant blender at Campo de Encanta, working with his craft cocktail mentor, Duggan McDonnell of Cantina in San Francisco. Peruvian Pisco, he says, is fascinat - ing. "It's amazing to taste the direct correlation with the grape you use and the final flavor and aroma profile." Guests can taste his blend in his favorite nightcap, a little drink he likes to call a "better" Negroni, made with Campo de Encanta and a pinch of salt, which brings a hint of sweetness to the other - wise bitter Campari. Smooth Sailing LIBATIONS CONSULTANT OTIS FLORENCE OF NYC'S ATTABOY BRINGS A WORLD TRAVELER'S VIEW TO COCKTAILS by Sarah Bray / photos by Doug Young "SPARE TIME" is a rather foreign concept for Florence, who also owns Many Thanks Inc., his own cocktail consul- tancy. He jumps from one project to the next, but we got him to dish on some of the things that are keeping him and his palate busy. Charity work: As the New York Chapter President of No Scruples, he helps put on charity events in local communi- ties. "It's a way to have fun and make an impact," he says. Up next? A synchronized bartending competition, coming to a town near you. Service philosophy: He has a few. "To teach patience you have to be patient" is one he lives by, but our favorite is "We like to freestyle greatness," the motto of his No Scruples group. Sharing the spirit: "I've been working with Skyy Vodka to create vodka cocktails on tap. It's exciting work to help elevate palates in places craft cocktails don't really touch." And since they have to use shelf-stable ingredients (no citrus!), he really understands how to use ingredients to their full capacity in new and different ways. Item he couldn't live without: A pendant from New Zealand that I never take off. It's a sailor's promise from my best friend, which the Maori say is protection over water. Favorite pairing with that Negroni he likes so much: "I really like seafood with a Negroni; it works really well with lobster. It's so dry, and with the richness and butteriness of lobster . . . for some reason it just really does it for me." Pie in the sky: I'd love to sail the world while staying employed (he's a second-level certified sailor). Next on the list of spots to sail: the Marchesas, the Caribbean, Honduras, the Mediterranean and the Canary Islands. Otis Florence. closing time THE SIDE BAR

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