Bottlerocker of the Month: Nicholas Jarrett

Nicholas Jarrett, seen here behind the stick at Dram, describes himself as "an itinerant full-time bartender and sometime miscreant" based out of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

“Sleep? That bed is a coffin, and those are winding sheets. I do not sleep, I die.”–Captain Ahab, Moby Dick

Craft bartenders are often split into two camps: those who forge innovative methods in drink-making, such as molecular mixology, and those who consider themselves classicists, spending many hours tooling with historical recipes. Williamsburg’s Nicholas Jarrett is happily ensconced in the latter, and it comes as no surprise that he studied the classics, along with psychology and studio art, at Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

He left his studies to work behind various Philly bars, from corporate hotels  and independent restaurants to cocktail bars and illicit speakeasies, before breaking into the NYC cocktail scene. Philadelphia has enjoyed a burgeoning cocktail scene, spearheaded by the now-shuttered APO (originally Apothecary Lounge), of which Nick has been a key figure. Following stints at the Banker’s Club and La Bourse at the Hotel Sofitel, he was head bartender during APO’s  first year of operation, and until this past August, he was “resident curmudgeon and rabble-rouser” at the Franklin Mortgage & Investment Company in Rittenhouse Square.

Over the past two years, thanks solely to friends he first encountered by chance at the Old Absinthe House in New Orleans during Tales of the Cocktail in 2008, he has spent an increasing amount of time in NYC: first at Counter Organic in the East Village, followed by a tour of duty in the trenches at Pranna in Murray Hill. These days, he’s settled in behind the sticks at Flatiron Lounge in Manhattan, Clover Club in Cobble Hill and at Dram in Williamsburg. He can also be found covering the occasional shift at Bushwick Country Club.

He has studied under Gary Regan, is certified BAR-Ready thanks to the crew at Beverage Alcohol Resource, has done his time with the Wine and Spirits Education Trust, and has been thrown out of at least one bar in New Orleans each July for the past four years.

As much as he enjoys the classics, Nick doesn’t take himself too seriously. His ambition is to one day work in a dive bar–that he owns.

“The Dizzy Dozen” (The Same 12 Questions We Always Ask)

Q: What is the first thing you drink after you wake up?

A: Coffee. Strong and black. Iced in the summer, hot in the winter.

Q: What is the first thing you drink after a hard day’s work?

A: Depending on the evening, a Boilermaker, Campari on the rocks with a splash of soda, or a Punt e Mes on the rocks with a twist.

Q: What is the most delicious ingredient in your liquor cabinet?

A: Plymouth Navy Strength, or Angostura bitters.

Q: If you could sit at the bar between any two people (alive or deceased), who would they be?

A: I going to run fictional here and say Captain Ahab and Pierce Inverarity.

Q: Three favorite NYC bars:

  • Mayahuel for that michelada, the smoked tomato salsa, the bar staff, and the damn tequila (oh so much tequila).
  • Mars Bar because it has zero pretensions, makes no apologies, and offers more than one kind of bruise for the cruising.
  • And Bushwick Country Club because between the backyard, the characters, the activities, and the overheard conversations, a gent really couldn’t ask for a better bar a couple hundred feet from his front door.

Q: Three favorite non-alcoholic hangouts:

  • Second Stop Cafe, where the coffee is good (god bless Stumptown), the staff is rockstar, and the atmosphere is perfect. Plus the Norma Jean with avocado is my jam.
  • Outdoors in lovely weather, which for me (being a lazy man) preferably means navy strength negronis out of a plastic book on shell ice in paper cups in McCarren Park with a good book.
  • Lastly, museums. I love the Cloisters, the Met, and the Museum of Natural History.

Q: Average night’s sleep:

A: Very little.

Q: What is your favorite place to shop for your bar?

A: Cocktail Kingdom. I respect the folks who take a more culinary bent and cruise the green markets, spice shops, or culinary tech tradeshows, and I enjoy tasting what they’re working on, but I like my cocktails lean, minimal, and classically rooted. Give me a good set of tools, quality ice, bitters, spirits, the basic fresh juices, and a couple of standard syrups, and I’m in my element. So Greg’s little shop is my sort of place exactly.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

A: I look for inspiration in my ingredients and my methodology. Sometimes, something is begging to get used. So I put it to use. That use is determined by whatever methodology I’m refining at that point.

Q: If you woke up on a desert island, what bottle would you hope to have wash ashore?

A: Tough. It’s a desert island. I wouldn’t be unhappy if a nice bottle of sherry, calvados, or aquavit washed ashore. I also wouldn’t shed any tears if a couple of cases of Fernet Branca appeared.

Q: Do you have any bar-related good luck charms?

A: Funnily enough, although I’m a fairly superstitious person, no. I do bring my own tools to work, but that’s more of a familiarity, speed, and consistency issue.

Q: Do you have a nickname for yourself when you’ve had too many?

A: A hot mess?

Nick prepares a bevy of classic cocktails at Dram.

Nick Jarrett's Daiquiri: 2 oz. El Dorado 3 year, 1 oz. lime juice, 3/4 oz. simple syrup, shaken with block ice.

 

Bottlerocker of the Week: Nicolas de Soto

 

Nicolas de Soto, bartender at Dram and Painkiller, is leaving NYC for London later this month.

“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” – Saint Augustine

For as long as the craft of bartending has been a viable career, the opportunity to travel has been one of its biggest perks. We know that Jerry Thomas, father of the American cocktail, spent time in San Francisco, New Orleans, and Chicago, in addition to New York, and that Harry Craddock found refuge at London’s Savoy Hotel during Prohibition. And few books have been as influential to today’s bartenders as Charles H. Baker’s Jigger, Beaker, and Glass: Drinking Around the World, which chronicles the author’s favorite drinks sampled on every continent. Bartenders travel not just for the exotic romance, but to add new techniques and nuances to their repertoire, not to mention new flavors and recipes.

Parisian Nicolas de Soto, bartender at Dram and Painkiller in New York for the past six months, is following the tradition of the traveling bon vivant, and will soon be leaving us for London later this month. Nico has made quite an impression on the cocktail community here, not just due to his disarming accent, but also for his poise behind the stick, undoubtedly polished over the years at several bars around the world. He first got into bartending in Paris in 2005 at a high-volume bar not known for its cocktails before moving on to a bar where he learned the Parisian “classics” at the time: Blue Lagoon, pina colada, mojito, caipirinha, etc.

In 2007, he moved to Australia, where he had lived previously, and delved into more serious cocktails in Melbourne. After a year he returned to Paris, working in China Club, a serious cocktail bar in Bastille, and then he managed the bar at Mama Shelter (a Philippe Starck-designed boutique hotel) before joining Paris’ most respected cocktail bars, the Experimental Cocktail Club and Curio Parlor.

Before moving to NYC and utilizing his connections to get the job at Dram, Nico traveled through Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Cuba, Guatemala, and Mexico before flying to Vancouver for the Winter Games where he worked as a guest bartender. Other than bartending, tennis, and cinema, Nico’s passion is, you guessed it–travel. He says of the 51 countries he’s visited, his favorites are Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Argentina, Indonesia, Bolivia, Peru, French Polynesia, and Singapore; while his favorite cities are Paris, NYC, Vancouver, Melbourne, Sydney, London, Berlin, Singapore, and Barcelona.

“The Dizzy Dozen” (The Same 12 Questions We Always Ask)

Q: What is the first thing you drink after you wake up?

A: A strong black coffee, followed by a protein shake.

Q: What is the first thing you drink after a hard day’s work?

A: Either a whole glass of fresh grapefruit juice or a well made fresh daiquiri (2 oz. Chairman’s Reserve rum, 3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lime, 1/2 oz. cane syrup). I don’t like beer, sadly.

Q: What is the most delicious ingredient in your liquor cabinet?

A: Noah’s Mill 15-year-old bourbon. Just discovered it recently and I love it.

Q: If you could sit at the bar between any two people (alive or deceased), who would they be?

A: Sasha Petraske and Adriana Lima. No need to say why.

Q: Three favorite NYC bars:
Milk & Honey: Magic place, the Michael show. I haven’t seen Sam at work yet. It’s Sasha’s. It’s where everything started.
Death & Co: You’ll never be bored, amazing drinks, and some of the most talented bartenders on Earth. I always bring my friends and dates there.
• Dutch Kills

Q: Three favorite non-alcoholic hangouts:
• My rooftop: 360º view, two blocks from the East River in Williamsburg, the Manhattan skyline view is amazing.
McCarren Park: Tennis court and grass, what else?
• Paris of course – my friends, my family, my heart.

Q: Average night’s sleep:

A: From 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. usually. Eight hours is a good number.

Q: What is your favorite place to shop for your bar?

A: Cocktail Kingdom: Bar tools, books, great place.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

A: Bartenders I work with, meet, and watch. Bars I visited. The countries I visit. I visited 51, worked in five, spent two years in Australia. People, no books – people.

Q: If you woke up on a desert island, what bottle would you hope to have wash ashore?

A: On a desert island, with the heat, damned a bottle of coconut water. On a cold island, send me a Zacapa 23-year-old.

Q: Do you have any bar-related good luck charms?

A: I had a blade that I carried around the world with me, but I lost it recently.

Q: Do you have a nickname for yourself when you’ve had too many?

A: Nico, that’s it.

A crusta calls for an elaborate citrus peel garnish.

Nicolas de Soto's "Tiki Crusta" at Dram: Pierre Ferrand cognac, Citadelle gin, lime juice, homemade orgeat, orgeat sugar, tiki bitters and orange peel garnish.

Nico’s going-away parties are at Painkiller this Wednesday night and at Dram on Sunday night. Bye Nico, you will be missed!

Bottlerocker of the Week: Orson Salicetti

Orson Salicetti at Apotheke

Orson Salicetti at Apotheke

“If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony.”–Fernand Point, a French restaurateur considered the father of modern French cuisine

If you haven’t yet wandered down the narrow Chinatown street leading to the former opuim den-turned-Parisian-style apothecary bar Apotheke, you really are missing out on one of New York’s most hidden treasures. If you are lucky, you’ll open the ornate doors to see 2009 Star Chefs Rising Stars-winning mixologist Orson Salicetti behind the bar in his lab coat, mixing his exotic tinctures and infusions (made from ingredients such as dried fruits from Corsica) into dizzying treats.

Orson, who grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, developed his culinary approach to cocktail making thanks to the influence of his mother, a chef and restaurateur. He moved to NYC in 2001, and after a stint in Miami, he returned to New York to tend bar at Rayuela and Islero, where he met Albert Trummer. Albert, an Austrian bar chef/master mixologist, is the propietor of Apotheke, and Orson, as head bartender, is the backbone of the operation. Orson says he appreciates Albert’s innovative approach to mixing drinks and for giving him the freedom to source fresh, rare ingredients. Watching Orson mix drinks, and knowing that he made his modifiers by hand, it is clear that he takes an artistic, if not poetic, approach to the craft. For his Tomato Basil Martini recently served at the Star Chefs gala, Orson first rimmed the glass in a mix of Himalayan salt, fennel seeds, star anise, and sambuca–and that was just the garnish!

“The Dizzy Dozen” (The Same 12 Questions We Always Ask) With Orson Salicetti

Q: What is the first thing you drink after you wake up?
A:
A glass of water (I prefer sparkling water with a lemon) and an espresso.

Q: What is the first thing you drink after a hard day’s work?
A: My own Negroni (Plymouth Gin, Antica Formula Carpano, and Campari with my own bitters and an orange zest).

Q: What is the most delicious ingredient in your liquor cabinet?
A: For my liquors I have a special edition Santa Tereza Rum, I also have a Corsica dried fruit bitters I love, and sweet plum.

Q: If you could sit at the bar between any two people (alive or deceased), who would they be?
A:
My dad and my grandfather.

Q: Three favorite NYC bars:
• The bar at DBGB Kitchen & Bar because of the great selection of artisinal beers
• The Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel for latenight and beautiful people
• Apotheke–great cocktails!

Q: Three favorite non-alcoholic hangouts:
Il Buco at Bond Street
Five Points at Great Jones Street
Caracas Arepa Bar in Williamsburg

Q: Average night’s sleep:
A: I usually sleep around six hours, and a lucky night seven. During vacations, all day!

Q: What is your favorite place to shop for your bar?
A: Union Square Greenmarket, where they have the best selection of fresh botanicals, fruits, and vegetables.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: First from my mentor, my mother, and second from the kitchen–aromas, flavors, and memories.

Q: If you woke up on a desert island, what bottle would you hope to have wash ashore?
A: Sparkling water with a fresh lemon inside.

Q: Do you have any bar-related good luck charms?
A: My Japanese jigger (it’s a very special present).

Q: Do you have a nickname for yourself when you’ve had too many?
A:
Astano.

Orson Salicetti's "Tomato Basil Martini" with cherry tomato water, basil, gin, Lillet Blanc, agave-lime syrup, hibiscus bitters, and Himalayan salt rim.

Orson Salicetti's "Tomato Basil Martini" with cherry tomato water, basil, gin, Lillet Blanc, agave-lime syrup, hibiscus bitters, peppercorns, and Himalayan salt rim.

Bottlerocker of the Week: Meaghan Dorman

Meaghan Dorman, head bartender at Raines Law Room and founding member of LUPEC NYC

Meaghan Dorman, head bartender at Raines Law Room and founding member of LUPEC NYC

“Because I am a woman, I must make unusual efforts to succeed.  If I fail, no one will say, ‘She doesn’t have what it takes.’  They will say, ‘Women don’t have what it takes.’ –Clare Boothe Luce, playwright and one of the first women in Congress

There are plenty of talented female mixologists in NYC, but do you know who they are? Thanks to mentors such as Audrey Saunders of Pegu Club, Julie Reiner of Clover Club, Charlotte Voisey of Hendrick’s Gin, and Aisha Sharpe of Contemporary Cocktails, there’s a slew of bartenders shaking things up in the boy’s club. Since the days when women were not allowed in bars to more recent times when bartending involved more bouncer-type duties and heavy lifting, female bartenders have had to work hard to be taken seriously as mixologists. Now that mixing drinks is more about flavor combinations and individual style, there’s no reason why a female bartender can’t make a cocktail that tastes just as good (if not better) as one a man would make.

So last week it was great to visit Meaghan Dorman, head bartender of Raines Law Room and a founding member of the brand new New York City chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails). Meaghan said it became apparent that New York should have its own chapter of LUPEC because the Boston chapter, founded by Misty Kalkofen in 2007, does such a good job of promoting female-oriented cocktail culture. Meaghan said LUPEC NYC, led by Zacapa rum ambassador Lynette Marrero, plans to enhance the community of local women in the spirits/cocktail industry through charity work, education, and events.

When she is not mixing cocktails, Meaghan contributes to several publications as a spirits journalist, and she’s even a fellow blogger, with SpiritMeAway.com, and a fellow Examiner. Formerly the spirits/leisure editor of KING magazine, she has also contributed to Penthouse, XXL and Vain magazines. Meaghan began bartending in New Haven, Conn., while attending Southern Connecticut State University.  She moved to New York six years ago and has juggled bar gigs with stints in the music and media industries. If you want to visit Meaghan at Raines Law Room (48 W. 17th St.), keep in mind that the lounge has 45 seats, so call ahead and make a reservation, 212.242.0600.

“The Dizzy Dozen: The Same 12 Questions We Always Ask” With Meaghan Dorman
 
Q: What is the first thing you drink after you wake up?
A: A big glass of water immediately followed by a bigger cup of coffee. On a hangover day, for some reason I crave Pepsi in a can.

Q: What is the first thing you drink after a hard day’s work?
A: After a long night I like a stiff, sipping drink. Lately I’ve been drinking an Old-Fashioned variation that is equal parts Zacapa 23 and Elijah Craig 18 with some peach and angostura bitters.  We call it an “Amber Old-Fashioned,” after the cocktail server I first made it for.

Q: What is the most delicious ingredient in your liquor cabinet?
A:
I love Martin Miller’s Westbourne, and it’s great for making simple but tasty drinks at home.

Q: If you could sit at the bar between any two people (alive or deceased), who would they be?
A: Ada Coleman (former leading lady of The American Bar at the Savoy Hotel) and my lovely twin because she is always a good time and I don’t get to see her enough.

Q: Three favorite NYC bars:
Milk & Honey: Because I always enjoy the Mickey and Sammy show.

Death & Co: Love a place with great drinks and food. Even my friends that don’t care much about cocktails are always impressed and have a great time.

King Cole Bar at the St Regis: I love old hotel bars and this one has a lot of history and class.

Q: Three favorite non-alcoholic hangouts:
Branford, Connecticut, with my family

Fort Tryon dog park with my pug

• Strolling the tiny side streets in the village and daydreaming about real estate

Q: Average night’s sleep:
A: A lady needs her beauty rest! I always try to get 6-8 hours of sleep.

Q: What is your favorite place to shop for your bar?
A: We are lucky to be so close to the Union Square Farmer’s Market. We had a lot of fun buying local fruit and syrups this summer.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A:
Really anywhere, but especially seeing what people drink in old movies and books. I like reading old recipes and adjusting measurements and ingredients to make it something I really love.

Q: If you woke up on a desert island, what bottle would you hope to have wash ashore?
A:
It would have be something easy to drink neat, and I think a nice aged rum would fit the bill.  I love aged rums that a have coffee/chocolate profile like Zacapa XO and Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva.

Q: Do you have any bar-related good luck charms?
A
: I’m not superstitious about anything, but I do have a habit of collecting way more cocktail glasses than I’ll ever use.

Q: Do you have a nickname for yourself when you’ve had too many?
A:
Not so much for when I’m out (I’m lucky to have Irish drinking genes), but my friend has a saying I’ve adopted about the day after a night of alcoholic indulgence being a “Hologram Day” because you’re barely there.

Meaghan Dorman's "Amber Old-Fashioned" with Zacapa 23, Elijah Craig 18, angostura bitters, peach bitters, and demerara sugar cube.

Meaghan Dorman's "Amber Old-Fashioned" with Zacapa 23, Elijah Craig 18, angostura bitters, peach bitters, and demerara sugar cube.

Ada Coleman, early 20th Century bartender at The Savoy in London

Ada Coleman, early 20th Century bartender at The Savoy in London

Bottlerocker of the Week: Maxwell Britten

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Maxwell Britten, recently named a 2009 Star Chefs Rising Stars mixologist

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”–Holden Caulfield, “The Catcher in the Rye”

 

I recently sat down at Freemans, and Maxwell Britten, a 2009 Star Chefs Rising Stars-winning mixologist, was behind the stick. Unlike Holden Caulfiend, Maxwell, a creative writing student who has lived in NYC since 2005, certainly has not had a lousy childhood. Growing up with a passionate epicurean and food & beverage professional for a father (Eric S. Britten), Maxwell has been surrounded by food and spirits since he was old enough to handle a fork and a knife.

Despite what sounds like silver spoon-fed beginnings, he started out as a busboy at Jack the Horse Tavern in Brooklyn Heights in 2006 and pulled through the ranks to become head bartender and beverage director within a year–all while finally turning of legal drinking age. Craft bartending became Maxwell’s passion when a copy of The Gentlemen’s Companion, V.1 & 2 Around the World with a Fork, Knife and Spoon; Around the World with a Jigger, Beaker, and Flask” by Charles H. Baker Jr., was handed to him by St. John Frizzell (now owner of Fort Defiance in Red Hook) in the fall of 2007. Maxwell also studied with Damon Dyer of Flatiron Lounge, took the BarSmarts course, and has twice been a cocktail apprentice at Tales of the Cocktail–so he’s more than done his homework. Now running a food and drink consulting firm, Jigger, Beaker & Flask, with his older brother, Jeremy Osslund, Maxwell is a notable bottlerocker in NYC’s cocktailian scene, but he’s not letting it go to his head, he says.

“The Dizzy Dozen: The Same 12 Questions We Always Ask” With Maxwell Britten

Q: What is the first thing you drink after you wake up?

A: A big, HUGE cup of nice cold water, occasionally (depends on what I was up to before bedtime), or a Coke over hand cracked ice with a lime wedge. Or an iced Americano from the coffee shop around the corner of my apartment, Glass Shop, shout out to Francesco!

Q: What is the first thing you drink after a hard day’s work?

A: An ice cold brewsky. I might have a nip of Rittenhouse depending on how hard my night was.

Q: What is the most delicious ingredient in your liquor cabinet?

A: Probably the Lasanta by Glenmorangie. I recently finished a bottle of the Cuvée Homére by Rhum Clément with some world-class scumbags (bartenders) just before moving into my new apartment. I think I have a Budweiser or Brooklyn Lager in the fridge, those are pretty delicious too.

Q: If you could sit at the bar between any two people (alive or deceased), who would they be?

A: Charles H. Baker Jr., and my Dad.

Q: Three favorite NYC bars:

Prime Meats: Styled after a German beer hall, excellent beers on draught, good bartenders, great eats, and the kitchen stays open until 2 a.m., which is a rarity in Brooklyn.

Fort Defiance: Counter-culture coffee, St. John Frizell, great bites, in the heart of Red Hook, great menu—just a classic, check it out!

Milk & Honey: Too easy, right?

Q: Three favorite non-alcoholic hangouts:

Prospect Park at sunset

The Met

Fairway in Red Hook. I swear I don’t live in Red Hook—there is just some great stuff down there.

Q: Average night’s sleep:

A: Lately, 6 1/2-7 hours, and I have been in bed before 2 a.m. most nights these days.

Q: What is your favorite place to shop for your bar?

A: It was once Lenelle’s (in Red Hook!), which is no longer open. Astor Wines is pretty good. Sometimes doing a gig is good shopping—then again, I can’t remember the last time I actually had to buy the booze myself.

Q: Where do you find inspiration?

A: The kitchen, text books, bar manuals, characters in novels, movies, music, fashion, food, and most importantly, the ass-kicking bartenders you can find around the world these days.

Q: If you woke up on a desert island, what bottle would you hope to have wash ashore?

A: A gallon of chilled water. If you were hoping for a bottle of booze, then I guess I would hope for some rum, maybe Appleton VX? Jamaican rum calls for the occasion, and it’s just really easy on the palate. If there is no ice and I am on a desert island, I might not want to be sippin’ on warm/hot hooch.

Q: Do you have any bar-related good luck charms?

A: No, but from time to time I might put a dash of aromatic bitters behind the ears when I am feeling like I want to impress the ladies. Some barkeeps I know say it’s good luck in competitions, I just like the way it makes me smell. It’s almost like really great-smelling cologne. People will be like, “You smell magnificent,” and I’ll say, “Thanks, just a little limited-edition Repeal Day Bitters by The Bitter Truth, no biggee.”

Q: Do you have a nickname for yourself when you’ve had too many?

A: Yeah, it’s “French Exit”—that’s when you peace out without saying anything to anyone you’re with and in some occasions, not paying your bill—I swear the only person I do that to is Jason Littrell [of The Randolph] and that’s because he is the mad man behind the most debaucherous bar in Manhattan.  Sometimes it’s safer just to leave before he tries to give you another pickle back. In a conversation with him last week about my most recent “French Exit,” I go, “I am sorry man, I REALLY needed to go home, I could barely talk.” He says, “Well, you could still drink, so that’s not good enough for me.”

Maxwell Britten's "Zorritto Dorrado (The Golden Fox)" with Elegal Mexcal Reposado, Yellow Chartreuse, and orange marmalade.

Maxwell Britten's "Zorritto Dorrado (The Golden Fox)" with Elegal Mexcal Reposado, Yellow Chartreuse, and orange marmalade.