Pietro Collina

First real bartending job?

At Eleven Madison Park, I was a server. You really have to start from the bottom up. I always noticed the bar and that they were having more fun than me.

Go-to drink at the end of a shift?

I usually do Suze, a gentian-based liqueur and…this is really trashy but…it’s Suze and a cranberry Red Bull. It tastes like Aperol. It’s absolutely delicious and just wakes you up and keeps you going for the rest of the night.

Secret weapon behind the bar?

We’ve been playing around with dairy products. One of our most popular drinks, called the Sakura Maru, uses sheep’s milk yogurt mixed with genmaicha green tea, we stabilize it with hydrocolloids so it doesn’t separate when you mix it with lemon. It has a beautiful lactic flavor but a soft mouthfeel, which is fun. EMP makes their own butter, so we take the runoff, buttermilk, and make a syrup out of it. That’s in the Deli Slang cocktail. And more sour, fermented flavors for increased acidity, which is really fun.

A good trick for home bartenders to know:

The most important thing is to have a jigger and know how much you are putting into a glass. To keep on hand: Always have Angostura bitters, that’ll change everything. I call it the “salt and pepper of cocktails.” Always have vermouth on hand. But don’t keep it outside. Once you open it, store it in your fridge. Some people leave it out and they just have this old bottle that’s been sitting around oxidizing and it tastes awful. So make sure it’s in your fridge, it should last 30-60 days.