The Tasting Panel magazine

October 2017

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october 2017  /  the tasting panel  /  1 17 Egor Polonskiy: Dustin, how did you get into the bar/hospitality industry and what is your current role? Dustin Drankiewicz: I am a founding partner here at Deadbolt and at soon- to-be-opened Midwestern cocktail destination The Pink Squirrel. My story is typical—I grew up around bowling alleys, restaurants, and bars. I got a job in one when I was 14 washing dishes, eventually waiting tables on Sunday for "after churches." That was in the only sit-down restaurant in town—Bublitz's. When I was 19, I started barbacking, made my way to bartending, and here we are now. Was becoming an owner of a bar your ultimate goal? There are several scenarios that can become your "last horizon" when you have been in hospitality for a while already. It's either stay in management, work for a brand, or open your own bar. I was 24 or 25 when I started thinking of it. I tried two out of three and both were not quite for me. So, I always had an idea of a modernized corner bar—which translated into Deadbolt eventually— and I wanted to do this dream cocktail bar of mine that really would represent the Midwest supper clubs, like the new place I am working on now. There is a whole world of Midwestern classic cocktails from the '50s through the '70s: the muddled brandy Old Fashioned, the Golden Cadillac, the Pink Squirrel, the Grasshopper, etc.—things I would see my parents or grandparents drinking. I want to capture that in a modern setting. Let's talk about Deadbolt. Where did this name come from? It was more of an inside joke at first that I had brought up in a couple of meetings. "Hit the deadbolt at last call" represents the emotion you feel at the end of the night when you are closing the bar and ready for your shift drinks and cold pizza. So, it's not a word that is tied to fancy history or anything like that; it represents the emotion. How did your life change after this bar was opened? Right after we opened Deadbolt, I decided that I was going to quit drink- ing alcohol. I thought I had too much responsibility. Now I am 30 pounds lighter, waking up earlier, eating greens every day, etc. So, opening Deadbolt was life-changing. Do you still bartend? I do. Do you still enjoy it? I do enjoy fun elements like talking to the guest and providing hospitality, but then it gets two to three people deep at the bar and I feel like I don't have the chops anymore. I put in a lot of energy working on the other side of the business. I am in the bar eight to ten hours before the door is open, so I do rely on my bartend- ers who are young and hungry. They present drinks to me, and I feel like I am out of the loop sometimes—wrapped up in spreadsheets, PnLs, and sales reports. I can still make drinks; it's like riding a bike, but my responsibilities are shifted to the other areas of the business. Do you have an all-time favorite bar? Employees Only in New York City was a bar I loved five to six years ago, with Steve [Schneider] and sometimes Dushan [Zaric] behind the bar. Now I like a place in Milwaukee called Bryant's Cocktail Lounge. It's magnetizing. What's a great ultimate drink you recommend? A tequila/mezcal split-base Paloma or gin Rickey. I like dry, seasonable carbonated cocktails. Southern Glazer's Mixologist Egor Polonskiy and Drankiewicz at Chicago's Deadbolt. El Diablo by Dustin Drankiewicz, Deadbolt ◗ ¾ oz. Altos Tequila ◗ ¾ oz. Sombra Mezcal ◗ ¾ oz. Combier Fruit Rouge ◗ ¾ oz. lime juice Top with ginger beer.

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