The Tasting Panel magazine

March 2018

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1 10  /  the tasting panel  /  march 2018 Despite his reputation as an outspoken enthusiast of Polynesian cocktail culture, Marlo Gamora wants you to know he's "more of a tiki guy than a tiki bartender." This playful reluctance likely lies in his aversion to being professionally pigeonholed: Before taking a bartending position at Italian heavyweight Dante, Gamora has worked at several influential New York institutions, including Filipino gastropub Jeepney and post-modern tiki restaurant Mother of Pearl. "Everywhere I've worked has had a different style and philosophy, and I think that has made me a balanced bartender," he says. A Filipino himself, Gamora's interest in tiki was originally born out of a love of classic Elvis films and a passion for cultures he encountered while travel- ing throughout Southeast Asia. He first indulged his curiosity by throwing house parties where his friends critiqued his cocktails, but Jeff "Beachbum" Berry's 2007 book Sippin' Safari left Gamora with a newfound admiration for Filipino bartenders famously trained in the tiki arts. After conceptualizing a full tiki menu at Jeepney, Gamora landed at Dante; with a menu bursting with apéritifs, Negronis, and classic cocktails, the restau- rant falls far outside of tiki territory, but part of the joy for Gamora lies in pushing boundaries and making the menu approachable at the same time. "I get to incorporate ingredients that aren't normally used, like amaris and liqueurs," he says. "We try to have a drink for everyone and I love changing up ingredients. That's what draws me in." The opportu- nity to meet new people from different walks of life every day. Teaching people about ingredients old and new, including lesser-known amaro and rum brands. Having a job that feels like hosting a party. Geeking out about spirits, where they're made, and the terroir that shapes their flavors. Checking out new spots and exploring new cultures through their cuisines. (Not such a fan of the weight gain, though!) Close-minded customers who won't try something new or even read the cocktail menu. I wish guests were more trusting. Rudeness: guests who snap their fingers at bartenders or rowdy patrons who slap the bar loudly and disrupt the environment. Irresponsible drinkers who go overboard. Try a low-ABV apéritif and enjoy a conversation with friends instead. Handsy guests who touch straws and garnishes on the bar. You have to throw them out, which is extremely wasteful. THE "5" LIST MARLO GAMORA'S TOP FIVE FAVES: MARLO GAMORA'S TOP FIVE PET PEEVES: Lack of respect for culture and tradition: Putting a cocktail in a tiki mug doesn't make it a tiki drink. Without that respect, it becomes an appropriation of sorts. MARLO GAMORA BARTENDER, DANTE, NEW YORK CITY by Mara Marski TAKING INVENTORY WITH . . . PHOTO COURTESY OF DANTE

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