Cook Sip Party Primp Interviews Raw Canvas Home

04.20.10 by  

Anyone Can Be a Mixologist. (This Means You)

That’s the mantra of neighborhood hideout Louis 649 and the name of their cocktail contest. Head barman Glenn Lucci slid us some pro techniques, a helpful mariachi band suggestion and a few signature drink recipes for kick-starting your own sideboard.

We love an extensive cocktail menu, on-the-spot improved recipes and former jazz den vibes. East Village hangout, Louis 649, has all three. They up the ante by posting head barman Glenn Lucci behind the bar. Here, he gives us the details on how to off-road your own drink recipes and why you’d prefer he host you at the bar, rather than his own pad.

you’re hosting an amateur cocktail crafting contest. what was the inspiration…

Glenn Lucci: Above all its a way for us to show our gratitude to our customers and allow them a chance to get behind the bar that they’ve supported for so long. Our clientele is very knowledgeable about booze so we figured the competition would be welcomed.

Where Glenn Lucci both works his magic and slips back into "bartender missionary position." Gotta love an honest barman. Photo © Louis 649.

you say anyone can be a mixologist…what are the few tricks that will raise at-home bartender’s game?

Beyond the usual protocol like fresh juice, decent bar tools, measuring with jiggers and quality liquor, I would say try to use large solid chunks of ice for shaking and stirring. Whether it’s by using molds that are homemade or purchased or by chipping off pieces from the blocks you buy at the gas station, good ice makes good drinks and thin snowy ice will overly dilute a drink and mute the flavors.

Another tip is to master one drink and then substitute similar ingredients into the formula to create new drinks. For instance, a great sour recipe is 2 ounces base spirit, 1 ounce lemon or lime juice and 3/4 ounce simple syrup. From there, you can use all sorts of sweeteners — honey, grenadine, maple syrup, velvet falernum, St. Germain — just make sure to adjust the acid to match the intensity of the sweetness. Within no time, you’ll have barbeque sauce and beef jerky in the glass, and it will be great.

you’re also known for your tastings and round-tables … what are the off-the-radar spirits you’re experimenting with these days?

I don’t get too exotic with my experiments. I always end up back in bartending missionary position. I am fascinated by Amaro, though, and have found myself putting Cynar in almost everything. It’s a great modifier in both aromatic stirred cocktails and shaken citrus drinks and gets along well with tequila and mezcal. Maybe the artichoke and the agave were good friends once upon a time.

we like the idea of hosting a “craft your own cocktail” party at home — any signature ways you create a top-notch experience?

At home with my friends I usually don’t need to offer much more than a case of beer and a hockey game on TV, but I would imagine a fun cocktail party where one base spirit is selected and each guest brings a modifier of some sort. Maybe a tequila party for Cinco de Mayo and people could bring different juices, syrups, peppers and herbs in their sombreros. You could try to hire one of those mariachi bands from the subway to come, too.

you’re probably crafting cocktails in your sleep — what’s a recipe you’ve created that was so ‘wow’ you surprised yourself?

In my sleep, I’m typically having pretty abstract dreams about aliens or something, so my best drinks are the ones created on the spot for customers at the bar who request odd combinations of ingredients. A lady asked for rum and porter together recently, so I riffed on a Dark and Stormy and thought it was pretty good: 2 ounces Chairmans Reserve St. Lucia Rum, 1/2 ounce fresh ginger syrup, 3/4 ounce lime juice, 1/4 ounce simple syrup. Shaken, poured over ice in a collins, topped with Smuttynose Porter.

One of my favorite customers loves Ardbeg Islay Single Malt cocktails and I made him a good one last night: 3/4 ounce Ardbeg, 3/4 ounce lemon, 3/4 Cointreau, 1/2 ounce St. Germain and a dash absinthe. Shaken. Served up.

what are some off-the-radar tricks or techniques you’re experimenting with to keep yourself challenged?

I usually have no problem keeping myself challenged. Sometimes I make a Vodka Tonic look difficult.

the coolest part of creating new concoctions are the epiphanies … any you’d like to share?

For every positive discovery, I probably have a dozen catastrophes. The catastrophes are great teachers though, too, and usually indicate that I’ve been too whimsical thus pointing me back to a recipe that I know works well from which I can deviate and make substitutions.

Meet the "Pimm's-bibe," our invention for the Louis 649 cocktail contest. Ingredients: 2 parts Pimm's, 2 parts fresh grapefruit juice, 1 part simple syrup, 1/4 part Ricard Pastis, 1 egg white. Shaken and strained into a highball, garnished with a whole piece of dried mace.

Dark and Smutty

Glenn Lucci’s riff on the Dark and Stormy.

  • 2 ounces Chairmans Reserve St. Lucia Rum
  • 1/2 ounce fresh ginger syrup
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • Topper of Smuttynose Porter
  1. Shake, pour over ice in a collins, and top with Smuttynose Porter.

Louis 649 Scotchtail

When one of Glenn Lucci’s favorite Ardbeg lovers asked for a improved new cocktail, he shook this.

  • 3/4 ounce Ardbeg Islay Single Malt
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 3/4 Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounce St. Germain
  • Dash absinthe
  1. Shake, serve up.