Best New Mixologist
Where He Won
The NoMad Bar; New York City
First Bartending Experience
I was working in Philadelphia as a Chinese translator, learning about classic cocktails from books and practicing in my apartment, juicing pineapples and making syrups. A friend from Beijing was throwing a party at the University of Delaware and asked me to bartend. In hindsight it was a terrible idea: I wound up having to juice two cases of citrus by hand and shake daiquiris for hundreds of 21-year-olds, all by myself. But it was a blast. I was hooked.
I didn’t learn how to be a good bartender until I got hired by Sother Teague to tend bar at Amor y Amargo in the East Village in New York. Sother used to be a research chef for Alton Brown’s show Good Eats, and was a cooking instructor at the New England Culinary Institute. He is a brilliant educator. I wouldn’t be the bartender I am today without that training.
Guilty Pleasure Drink
Frozen piña colada out of a coconut.
It’s a lot of fun to have Japanese or Chinese guests at my bar and then talk to them in their own language. It’s a great way to take a guest’s experience to the next level.
A grasshopper takes a seat at a bar and the bartender says “Hey! Did you know that we have a cocktail named after you?!” And the grasshopper says, “No way! You have a drink named Cornelius?”
Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Their hospitality is unmatched, the drinks are incredible and I love oysters.
Drink Everyone Should Learn How to Make
A daiquiri. It’s so simple and so delicious: just rum, sugar and lime, shaken and strained. But it’s a great lesson in the importance of balance and measurement. Too much of any one ingredient will yield a lackluster cocktail. But get it right and there’s nothing in the world that’s more delicious.
Best Cocktail Name
I once wrote a recipe for a cocktail made with amaro, Cognac and orange cream citrate, served unchilled and undiluted, neat in a glass. It was called Iceless Chaps.