The Tasting Panel magazine

April 2010

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DEPARTMENT HeAdeR TP: What is your desert island cocktail? JB: Hendrick’s gin and tonic. Purely for medicinal reasons: lime for scurvy, tonic for malaria and gin for courage. ‘Nuff said. TP: What is your biggest pet peeve behind the bar? JB: People who talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. Great that they know how to make their own muddled black Corinth basil Mojito, but can they knock out 100 of them on a Saturday night when their co-worker calls in sick? TP: Worst person you ever worked for/with? JB: Anyone who had a substance abuse problem. TP: Best advice you ever got regarding bartending? JB: It’s not about the bartender; it’s about the guest. If you believe Bohemian, then Jeff Burkhart was the best bartender of 2009, as voted by the magazine’s readers. If you don’t believe everything you read, then know this: Jeff has been working behind the stick for over 15 years, written more than a few bar books (including Name Your Poison and What’s on Tap?) and runs the website His current gig at Buckeye Roadhouse in Mills Valley, just north of San Francisco, has him working in a fine dining top 100 restaurant in California. —Eric Tecosky TP: When did you first get into bartending? Jeff Burkhart: I was cooking at a restaurant while in college, and I noticed that the bartenders were essen- tially doing the same job—assembling ingredients and making up recipes—but having far more fun and making a lot more money. I kept bugging the manag- ers until they let me bartend a couple of day shifts, and I never looked back. TP: What can customers expect to drink at Buckeye? JB: We have a heavy emphasis on the classics, with a few fresh, seasonal and interpretive tweaks. Simple yet delicious. TP: What skill or skills do you feel makes a great bartender? JB: Organization, personality, imagination and integrity. Original Cocktail by Jeff Burkhart Blood Orange Manhattan 2 oz. Michter’s single barrel straight rye ½ oz. Aperol 2 dashes Stirrings blood orange bitters 1 blood orange wheel, 1/8 inch thick Combine first three ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until cold while disregarding those naysayers who insist you never shake Manhattans. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and float the orange wheel on top. Savor while those same naysayers bicker over whether or not this drink can be called a Manhattan at all. 114 / the tasting panel / april 2010 TP: Favorite film or literary bartender and why? JB: Brian Flanagan, from the book Cocktail by Heywood Gould, who is a far different character from the one in the horrible movie version starring Tom Cruise. TP: Least favorite cocktail to make? JB: Anything mixed with house made bitters. Due to the incredible variation in available ingredients, these drinks never, ever taste remotely the same. TP: Best customer you ever had? JB: My wife, three of my publishers and my best friend, all of whom I met while bartending. TP: In your opinion, what’s the “next big thing” in the bar world? JB: A return to simplicity. Highlighting the subtle- ties of a few simple ingredients instead of throwing half a dozen obscure things together and calling it “inventive.” TP: Who or what has been your biggest influence behind the bar? JB: Cocktail Boothby [also a Marin County bar- tender], whose ten commandments for bartending are as relevant today as they were a hundred years ago. Buckeye Roadhouse, 15 Shoreline Highway, Mill Valley, CA; 415-531-2600 PRO-file: Jeff Burkhart

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