The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2016

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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 august 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  73 WILLEM VAN LUEVEN, Lead Bartender of Herb & Wood in San Diego, CA You designed the cocktail menu at Brian Malarkey's recently opened Herb & Wood. How would you describe the direction you took with the drinks list? I've always been a fan of cocktails that are simplistic by design. Being inspired by the chefs in the kitchen, I wanted to focus on herbal ingredients that aren't commonly seen in cocktails in San Diego. Almost all of the drinks on the list are some variation on a classic cocktail, using tried and true flavor combinations. We hear you also have wine on tap at Herb & Wood; is that becoming some- thing of new trend behind the bar? Having wine on tap is a fantastic feature of ours at Herb & Wood; the guests seem to be very receptive to it. There is no spoilage or broken bottles to deal with, which helps keep our costs low. I think the popularity of keg wine is just going to grow more and more as producers see the benefits. ROBERTA ROSA, Bartender & Owner at Cantinero Creations in New York, NY You're originally from Puerto Rico; what is your classic go-to Caribbean cocktail? While the Piña Colada is the national drink of Puerto Rico and it holds a special place in my heart, my go-to Caribbean cocktail has to be the Daiquiri. Not only is it simple and quick, it is perfect for any occasion! It is also fun to try it with different combina- tions of rums and sweeteners. How would you describe your approach to cocktails and bartending? I try to find inspiration all around me: It can be from a memory, an aroma, a song, a new spirit or ingredient. I always try to push my boundar- ies, but keeping in mind the importance of balance. Following the K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid) approach has served me well thus far, so I stick to it. SCOTT BEATTIE, Beverage Director of Estate Events at Meadowood Napa Valley in St. Helena, California You're known as the "The Godfather" of artisanal cock- tails in Napa Valley. What's the secret to crafting original, drinkable works of art? I hope that I'm not old enough to be the "Godfather" of anything, but I do appreciate the nod. The secret to any delicious and beauti- ful cocktail starts with creating a balanced libation, appropriate for the season or venue and garnish- ing it with items that have context. If the drink looks amazing, guests will already want to taste it before they've even taken the first sip. If you've made it taste great too, you have a winner! What is your top herb- or floral-inspired cocktail for summer? Right now I'm working on a strawberry-infused Encanto Pisco cocktail with pineapple gum, lime and tarragon. The drink is garnished with pickled red and green strawberry slices. All of the fresh ingredients are in season right now and, except for the lime, come from small farms in my area. PHOTO COURTESY OF MEADOWOOD NAPA VALLEY PHOTO: GABI PORTER PHOTO: TIM KING

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