The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2016

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38  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2016 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 CONSTANTIN ALEXANDER, Director of Beverage at Hakkasan Restaurant in Las Vegas, NV What is your process when selecting wines and spirits for Hakkasan Group's 18 U.S. restaurants? We choose wine and spirits that will provide our guests with the best experience. It is also a balancing act, as sometime items that we think are absolutely amazing may not fit in some of our venues. We do like to give the individual venue management teams a say in the product that is used and, at the same time, manage the business from a higher level that coincides with our long-term goals. What (if any) educational wine and spirit programs does Hakkasan Group offer? I'm glad that you asked! We don't really advertise it much, but Hakkasan Group is, as far as we know, the only hospital- ity company in the United States that is approved to certify Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET) materials at our sites. We have a network of educators in our European locations and have just recently gotten our first certified educator in the USA—yours truly! STEVEN TUTTLE, Beverage Director, Kettner Exchange, FIREHOUSE & The Grass Skirt in San Diego, CA As a well-respected devotee of tiki culture, what can you share with us about the current island cocktail revival? Tiki is such a fun escape from the real world. It's really exciting to see some of the most talented bartend- ers in the city who understand bal- ance, fresh ingredients and great spirits take on a fun cocktail culture that can (and has in the past) been butchered pretty easily. What is your favorite classic tiki cocktail and why? Probably a Mai Tai: there are so many killer variations and every- one has their own twist, plus the battle over who invented the Mai Tai—Don the Beachcomber vs. Trader Vic—is great history. ZACK GRAY, Bar Manager at BANKERS HILL Bar + Restaurant in San Diego, CA Which unexpected spirits, bitters or tinctures might you feature in your cocktail repertoire this fall? The summer fruits and vegetables stretch past the summer season in San Diego, but I'll try to stay with what I consider the fall produce to be. I like using liqueurs and amaros that remind me of those great warm fall spices. I also love to use mole bitters in the fall, and rosemary tincture is great as well. What's a personal favorite riff on an old time classic? One drink that we've added to the menu at Bankers Hill that is a direct result of my time spent in the Bay Area is called the Bees of Bennet Valley, which I've been making different variations of for quite some time. The fresh savory floral notes of fennel pollen and lavender, combined with honey and lemon, is perfect for a warm San Diego day. It's basically a Bees Knees with a great savory twist. PHOTO: JORGENSEN PHOTOGRAPHY PHOTO: AARON GARCIA / HAKKASAN GROUP PHOTO COURTESY OF BANKERS HILL BAR + RESTAURANT

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