What I Drink, Lynette Marrero
Credit: © Eric Medsker

What I Drink is a series featuring legendary bartenders to learn about how they got started, what they love to drink and discover their go-to cocktail recipes.

From Flatiron Lounge to Freemans NYC to Elettaria and now Williamsburg’s Llama Inn—everywhere Lynnette Marrero’s career has taken her has been lauded for its cocktail program. Marrero is a rum expert who was honored at the James Beard Awards as a leading female mixologist in 2009. She gives back to the community, too, as a major supporter of fellow women in the industry. With fellow bartender Ivy Mix, she co-founded Speed Rack in 2011, a cocktail competition for women that raises money for breast cancer charities (the finals are this weekend, with Food & Wine’s Kate Krader judging). Here, we find out what got her into the business and her love for culinary ingredients in cocktails.

When did you know you wanted to work behind the bar?
I found my calling behind the bar working at the Flatiron Lounge with Julie Reiner. Her drinks were beautiful and the artistry of the craft cocktails was appealing to me. I left my musical theater career to become a full-time bartender and have not looked back.

What inspires the cocktails you created for Llama Inn?
Jessica Gonzalez and I were seriously inspired by the wonder flavors of Peru. Erik (the chef) shared some amazing family recipes like his chicha morada. His passion for food mirrored our passion for cocktails, so it was a natural partnership. Also, a focus on Peruvian pisco, Peruvian ingredients, and sherry really gave us a great framework to work with.

Which cocktail that you’ve developed in your career is your favorite, and why?
That is a hard one. Each cocktail you make is your favorite at the time cause that is what you are interested in. I would have to say the Flying Purple Pisco and the LLama Del Rey on our menu are my favorite. They incorporate my fascination with culinary ingredients in cocktails.

What’s your favorite classic cocktail, and why?
I love a Negroni. I love aperitif cocktails, and the bitterness of the Campari with the sweetness of the vermouth and the botanicals of gin—it is a perfect combination.

What's a super-easy recipe that someone can re-create at home?
This is one of my first original cocktails I ever made. I find it funny that my career has come back full circle to pisco.

Cuzco Fizz

  • 5-6 green grapes
  • 2 ounces Macchu Pisco
  • 1 ounce St-Germain
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Perrier

Muddle grapes in a shaker. Add all ingredients except the sparkling water; add ice. Shake and roll into a highball. Add fresh ice and top with Perrier. Garnish with grapes.