The Tasting Panel magazine

JULY 2012

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Page 54 of 132

THE BEVERAGE MANAGER Chris Ojeda A Chris Ojeda exhibits total concentration with a Caribbean swizzle stick as he makes a Soho House Galleggiante Swizzle at Cecconi's, West Hollywood. CREATING COCKTAILS ON TWO CONTINENTS story and photos by Richard Carleton Hacker s Creative Bar Director for Soho House Group, Chris Ojeda has one of the most impressive—and demanding—titles in modern-day mixology. Founded in London in 1995 as a private club for individuals in fi lm, media, and related industries, Soho House has since expanded to include luxury residences, hotels, and restaurants in Europe and the United States. Ojeda oversees the exacting standards of Soho House and its customers for unique cocktails and spirits at the group's eleven restaurants, located in Los Angeles, Miami, Berlin and London and which include Cecconi's in Mayfair, Miami Beach and West Hollywood. Ojeda honed his creative cocktail skills in New York with Gary Regan, and later in Los Angeles with Damian Windsor of Table 8, Eric Alperin at Osteria Mozza and Sasha Petraske at The Varnish, and he co-authored the cocktail menu at The Edison. Then Soho House discovered Ojeda and created a job specifi cally for him. Indeed, there are art directors and creative directors, but few, if any, Creative Bar Directors. "I've never heard of it either," Ojeda admits. "But I'm responsible for the educa- tion of our bartenders, the spirits selection of all our bars, the cocktails we make and maintaining the philosophy of our bars, which is very much classic. When I fi rst came here, there wasn't one succinct style among the various locations. So we created a library of 25 classic drinks, then came up with a recipe for each one, in ounces for the States and mils for Europe. Now we've grown that list to 125. Our cocktails are intended to highlight the spirits. We take old and forgotten drinks and adjust the proportions and style so we can serve the guest a classic drink and have a story to tell as well." With specialty cocktails such as the Soho House Mule, using house-made ginger juice, and Picante de la Casa, a Tommy's Margarita made with Cazadores Reposado, lime, agave nectar and a muddled Fresno chili pepper, Chris Ojeda has made his title a reality. On the Aer with Vinturi The "creative" part of Ojeda's title plays a major role in his cocktail program, whether it's using Kold Draft 1¼-inch cubes and Ice-O-Matic Gem Pearl "nuggets" to make drinks colder and more attractive, the adoption of an exclusive Soho House cut crystal Collins and rocks glass pattern, or his acquisition of spirits from the 1930s, '40s, and '50s to literally put a vintage spin on cocktails. It was this latter innovation that brought the Vinturi Spirit Aerator to Ojeda's attention. "I think the Aerator would be great for aged spirits, because they've been bottled up for such a long time," he says, "just as you aerate older wines to bring out fl avors that otherwise might take a while to come to fruition. Some older cognacs and single malts could benefi t as well. You can probably get more fl avors from a tiny bit of aeration than you would from drinking them without aerating. " Using the Vinturi Spirit Aerator, Chris Ojeda, Creative Bar Director for Soho House Group, experiments with the thick, syrupy 12 Year Old Zaya Rum, a Double Gold Medal winner from the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and a key ingredient in Cecconi's Galleggiante Swizzle cocktail. 54 / the tasting panel / july 2012

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