Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, explores and documents the personal style of some of the best bartenders in the industry. For this latest installment, we’re profiling doyenne of cocktails, part-time chanteuse, and all around force of nature, the talented Ms. Franky Marshall. We visited Franky at her resident home bar, Brooklyn Height’s Marie Antoinette-inspired cocktail den, Le Boudoir, where she heads the beverage program.
I’ve never been a t-shirt and jeans kind of person. I like to look good. I dress to be photographed. ” – Ms. Franky Marshall
Franky doesn’t like to play it safe. From a wanderlust that started at an early age, a non-conventional career path and a variety of creative pursuits, to the exotic cocktails she creates to win international spirits competitions, Franky Marshall is, self admittedly, a risk taker.
And you’ll most likely pick up on that the moment you meet her. Franky’s free spirit and fearlessness has a way of translating outward – through her personality AND her sartorial choices. Franky doesn’t do anything halfway.
Fluid. Funky chic. Slightly dangerous.” – Ms. Franky Marshall when asked to describe her personal style
Purple is clearly Franky’s signature color. Even if she’s not fully decked out in it, there’s usually a pop of amethyst in her hair, a bright lilac swiped across her lips, sometimes a lacy, violet bustier with ribbons framing her décolletage…
Franky got her start in the craft cocktail industry about 9 years ago as part of the opening staff of Clover Club, Julie Reiner’s now standard-bearing, hospitality driven cocktail lounge in Brooklyn. And it’s been full speed ahead ever since. She went on to work at the iconic Monkey Bar, helped to open one of New York City’s most acclaimed cocktail bars to date, Dead Rabbit, and has spent the past year, since it opened, as Beverage Director at Le Boudoir.
Growing up in small town in Upstate New York, Franky had an awakening in high school when she met some edgy girls in a French immersion course. The girls ended up inspiring her to dye her hair orange, shave part of her head and embrace her inner punk rocker.
In college, Franky made the decision to study abroad, learned to speak French fluently, and solidified her Francophile leanings (which ended up serving her especially well once she would become a BNIC Certified Cognac Educator in 2014). By college, her style took a decidedly gothic turn. She was more covered up, wore mostly thrift store finds, and peppered her wardrobe with leather pieces.
While her style has evolved and has “toned down”, compared to her more radical goth days, Franky prides herself on her ability to adapt. She stills finds gems at Goodwill and Salvation Army and claims to shop in all departments – kid’s, men’s, and plus size. But what is most important to her is “dressing for the place”.
Le Boudoir is a pretty fun one to dress for. Inspired by Marie Antoinette’s decadent private chambers, the ceiling is modeled after a replica of the actual floors in the palace of Versailles, and a bust of the famed French queen sits regally on top of the bar, overseeing the place.
In order to even get to this lush, subterranean haven, you have to first go through French restaurant Chez Moi, owned by Parisian couple Tarek Debira and Patricia Ageheim. After entering behind a bookshelf and descending a flight of stairs, you’ll be transported to an intimate but lavish room dripping in gilt, antiques, and red velvet.
Franky continues to fulfill her desire for international travel and exploration through her many roles as presenter, moderator, judge and educator for various seminars, bar shows and competitions around the world. She also competes in cocktail competitions herself, and continues to KILL it. It is no surprise knowing her love of trotting the globe, and after seeing the many exotic pieces in her wardrobe, that Franky’s biggest style inspiration comes from her travels.
The pewter glassware collection at Le Boudoir is extensive. The upstairs restaurant opened three years prior, and they had the luxury of working on the bar for nearly two of those years, sourcing a variety of glasses, barware and tools.
When we asked Franky which cocktail on the menu best represented Le Boudoir as well as her particular cocktail design style, she made for us the stunning Jardin Royale, a lovely mix of tequila, grapefruit and lavender.
Jardin Royale created by Franky Marshall for Le Boudoir
1 oz Blanco Tequila
1 oz La Quintinye Extra Dry Vermouth
.5 oz Pamplemouse Liqueur
1 oz Lavender Soda
Garnish: lavender & thyme sprigs, grapefruit twist
Add tequila, vermouth & liqueur to mixing glass, stir with ice. Strain into fancy goblet. Top with Lavender Soda. Express grapefruit oils. Garnish with lavender and thyme sprigs.
Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, explores and documents the personal style of some of the best bartenders in the country. This month, we’re profiling rock star cocktail whiz, Pamela Wiznitzer at her home base, Manhattan’s Upper East Side hotspot Seamstress, where she serves as Creative Director, bartender and all around boss fox.
Pam is your Bartender-Next-Door. She’s your cool-girl confidante – a firecracker of positivity, doling out hugs and advice between perfectly crafted cocktails. She can hang with the boys, work the girl’s girl angle, and imbues equal parts warmth and confidence behind the bar. Pam Wiznitzer is your Bartender BFF.
Those who know Pam, have worked with her in some way, and/or have been lucky enough to have been served a cocktail crafted by her, know why she is so well-regarded in the industry. And why she is often a go-to mixologist and face for events and liquor brands looking to sparkle up the proceedings.
She’s highly skilled, passionate, creative, incredibly charismatic, and one of the hardest working bartenders in the biz. In short, she’s a superstar. Not to mention, she’s also pretty easy on the eyes.
And, considering the amount of awards and accolades that she’s amassed, and the breadth of titles for various cocktail competitions she’s collected these last few years, her trajectory in the bar business has been off the charts! Pam serves as President of the New York chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild and she’s only really been in the game for about 7 years.
Hospitality is key with all top bartenders, but Pam’s philosophy is next level. And it’s proven successful for her. She has a way of befriending everyone around her. It’s no wonder that she is known for having a devoted clientele. In her early days of bartending, after unexpectedly getting laid off from a startup, she found herself behind the stick during the day shift at a sports bar in Murray Hill. And, making the most of it, she packed them in. Pam’s following only grew as she honed her craft as an original hire at Dead Rabbit, (Tales of the Cocktail’s World’s Best Bar 2015), where she also earned a New York Bartender of the Year title from Village Voice in 2014 as well as landing a top 10 finalist spot for Tales’ Best American Bartender that same year. At the end of 2014, Pam made the move to help open and create the cocktail program for Seamstress, a new restaurant and bar on Manhattan’s Upper East Side that has quickly gained momentum, in large part based on Pam’s connection.
The Seamstress moniker extends to the interior theme, with vintage sewing machines and scissor designs displayed throughout.
The theme is also reinforced in the menu. As Creative Director, Pam has curated 50 classics and created 20 signature cocktails that all fall within four different sewing categories: Patchwork, Overlay, Embroidery, and Lining.
While Pam wanted the bar staff to wear whatever they felt comfortable and attractive in during their shift, the customized bartender apron that they all wear, ties the Seamstress theme together. They are “unified by one thread while still being individuals.”
The apron serves a basic functionality for the bar staff – the utilitarian style with multiple pockets allows for everyone to keep their tools close and their phones handy.
It also serves as a stylish outfit topper with sexy leather details that reflect some of the curated items sold in the shop occupying the front of the restaurant.
Pam is a fan of body conscious silhouettes and pops of color behind the bar.
She believes confidence is key. Owning your fashion. She’s not afraid of bright colors and patterns or taking risks. Patricia Field, famed costume designer behind Sex and the City, has served as one of Pam’s style inspirations.
Patrick Brauss, a former bar back (in one of Pam’s bars) turned personal stylist at Top Shop, came on board with Pam once she turned 30 and she decided she may need some assistance with all of the outfits she had to prepare for various events and judging panels and gigs where she needed to put her best face forward.
Patrick is able to push Pam’s fashion boundaries while knowing exactly what she likes: high wasted skirts and crop tops, mixing vintage and new, incorporating classic and chic with a touch of daring whimsy and sexy edge. But most importantly, she says, he always ensures she is presented in a professional way.
We asked Pam what the most popular cocktail at Seamstress was and without missing a beat, she prepared the Mortimer & Mauve, a rye whiskey based cocktail with chai tea infused vermouth and Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur. Simple, delicious and it can traverse various seasons. There’s a reason why this is such a popular cocktail. Our Bartender BFF should know!
Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This monthly series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, will explore and document the personal style of some of the best bartenders in New York City and beyond. This month, in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we are featuring two of the baddest babes in the bartending biz, who are also the powerhouse team behind Speed Rack, the first international, all-female bartending competition that donates 100% of their proceeds to breast cancer awareness, prevention, and research. Meet Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero!
Ivy affectionately calls Lynnette her “work wife”. As far as long-term relationships go, these ladies have this “work marriage” thing on lock.
In the four years that Ivy and Lynnette have successfully run Speed Rack, “the roller derby of cocktail competitions”, they have raised over $350,000 globally for breast cancer research and charities, have built an international network of women who consider them mentors, and have created a unique fundraising model that spirits brands and charities alike continue to look to as an example of grassroots success.
And all this has happened in between their constant globe-trotting, serving as judges for other cocktail competitions, guest speaking at seminars, and consulting with a variety of brands, all the while getting behind the stick on a regular basis. Oh, and then there was that time back in May after building out an entire restaurant in Brooklyn Ivy decided to run a half marathon the same week it opened. A mere two months later, she went on to win the prestigious title of Best American Bartender of the Year at the Tales of the Cocktail Festival’sSpirited Awards, which is pretty much the Oscars of the booze industry.
This latest accolade is a cherry on top of the many awards and achievements these two have scooped up separately during their esteemed careers behind the bar, including a James Beard Award given to Lynnette in 2009 for being one of America’s Leading Female Mixologists. You’re looking at the Beyoncés of the cocktail world, people. These ladies get to WERK!
And they both always seem to look so fetching while doing it.
On the surface, Lynnette and Ivy are pretty different. Lynnette is a curvy pin-up type, drawn to feminine silhouettes (one of her go-to online shops is the Bettie Page Store), and she strictly wears dresses behind the bar.
Lynette, a former pageant princess (she was Miss Manhattan in a past life!), is not afraid of bright florals and prints and a little decolletage, and is often seen with a tropical flower tucked behind her ear at events.
Noticing at a young age that she had a good amount of gray coming in, she was finally convinced by her art director husband a few years ago to let her hair go natural.
Barely into her 30s, she knew that it would take great confidence to pull it off. Luckily, Lynnette has that in spades. But no matter, because, turns out, she has GORGEOUS salt and pepper locks that complement her skin tone beautifully. So much so, that she seems to glow behind the bar or in front of it!
Ivy is the leggy tomboy who may have perfected her effortless half-damp top knot thrown up at the last possible minute and the all-American fresh-faced look while she was a budding equestrian in her youth in Vermont, or when she was the captain of her lacrosse team in high school or while studying abroad in college…
Whenever this casual, cool, Noxzema-girl look came together really doesn’t matter. The point is, it’s totally working for her. May we all look this radiant on so little sleep!
Ivy has a love of rompers (she calls them onesies!). She pretty much sticks with this uniform, which she also refers to as her “work pajamas”, while working at Leyenda, her newly opened Latin American cocktail bar in Brooklyn with partner and mentor Julie Reiner of Clover Club and Flatiron Lounge fame.
Ivy lived in Guatemala for four years post-college, and it was there that she first fell in love with bar culture while working at a place called Café No Sé. When it came time to conceptualize her own place, Ivy decided that she wanted to bring that part of the world into the charming Cobble Hill neighborhood in Brooklyn, merging the places she loves so much.
Her attraction to religious iconography and symbols can be seen throughout. And her idea to merge the Latin American culture and what we have come to recognize as a Brooklyn restaurant aesthetic can be seen in the rustic woodwork and the details in the tin ceiling spanning the place.
While Ivy admits to borrowing dresses from Lynnette because she’s “bad at being a girl”, and prefers wearing Timberland boots behind the bar because of the supportive heel versus Lynette who likes to wear fancy Crocs because they are light and washable…
…the ladies’ style converges when it comes to the signature look for Speed Rack. The overall look for the high energy cocktail competition is a combo of sporty and bad-ass with heavy retro inspiration from Rosie the Riveter.
Pink bandannas are their trademark, tying the breast cancer awareness signature color and the feminist cultural icon together.
The resulting Speed Rack image is confident, feminine and fierce, not unlike the ladies who dreamt up the concept of Speedrack in order to showcase women bartenders around the world, and elevate their status in the business, while simultaneously directly impacting breast cancer awareness. They’ve managed to change the face of the bartending world on an international scale, making a difference on a number of levels, and they happen to be having a kick-ass time doing it.
Both ladies shared Latin inspired cocktail recipes with us. Lynnette’s Flor de Rosa is a beautiful, ruby-hued tipple inspired by spirits writer Kara Newman’s Caramel Negroni.
Flor de Rosa – Lynette Marrero, Drinks at 6 1 oz Aperol 1 oz Angostura Amaro 1 oz Aged Rum Garnish: orange twist and orchid.
Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Ivy shared an unusual pisco sour variation called Buena Onda (good/awesome wave) off the Leyenda menu. I haven’t had a bad cocktail yet at Leyenda and this is one of my favorites!
Buena Onda – Ivy Mix, Leyenda 2oz Yerba Mate infused Kappa Pisco 1/2 oz fresh lime 1/2 oz fresh lemon 3/4 oz simple syrup 1/2 oz egg white
Dry shake, add ice, shake again. Serve up and garnish with grapefruit bitters..
Speed Rack’s fifth national tour kicks-off on November 15, 2015 in the United States and travels to eight cities – Chicago, New York, San Antonio, Seattle, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Nashville, and Boston before crowning a winner at the Speed Rack U.S. Finals in New York in May 2016. For more information, head to their website.
Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This monthly series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, will explore and document the personal style of some of the best bartenders in New York City and beyond. This month, we are going outside of our regular formula and are featuring two superstars in the booze industry who are not attached to a bar. As cocktail specialists for their own consulting firm Ford Mixology Lab, and Brand Ambassadors to separate but equally legendary brand portfolios, this husband and wife power couple knows a thing or two about bartending AND style. Meet Kyle & Rachel Ford!
When you’re always in cocktail attire, you’re always ready for a cocktail.” – Rachel Ford aka “Lady Tanqueray”
Jay Z & Beyoncé, Thelma & Louise, these guys…Kyle & Rachel Ford = #relationshipgoals. These kids are almost too cute together.
A sort of modern-day Nick and Nora Charles (the fun-loving husband-and-wife detective team in The Thin Man), this stunning pair are often chicly coordinated (without being matchy matchy), have a tendency to finish each others sentences (in a charming way), and most enviably, they are each others biggest cheerleaders. As brand ambassadors in the highly competitive spirits industry, where long hours, frequent traveling and erratic schedules are the norm, it is pretty significant to have someone who not only understands exactly what you’re going through but has your full support. It is pretty clear the Fords truly admire one another.
High school sweethearts who met at 15 in a Sacramento, California karate studio, Rachel worked the front desk and Kyle instructed 4 year olds how to hi-yah; they’ve been inseparable ever since. They went on to attend the same college but had divergent interests. Kyle went into finance and Rachel into real estate. The Fords then, captivated by the renaissance in cocktail culture, made the life changing decision to quit their jobs and made the move to San Francisco to cut their teeth behind the stick.
In a few short years, they both made names for themselves in the San Francisco cocktail scene. It was there that they first formed their cocktail & spirits consultancy, Ford Mixology Lab. Soon after, they set their sights on New York City.
As part of the opening team for beloved bitters bar Amor Y Amargo in New York City, the Fords were soon holding court every Sunday night as they hosted a special “FML Night” together – a play on the initials of their business, and the popular social media acronym for “fuck my life”.
It was a night devoted to righting all of the wrongs from the previous week, with cocktails! It gave them an opportunity to work together and provided a platform for them to introduce themselves to the greater New York cocktail community.
Turns out, it was a great intro! They went on to design the Fall/Winter cocktail menu for city hotspot, Empellon and then continued stints at high level bars around town before landing their current brand ambassador roles, which they’ve both held for nearly 4 years.
Instead of capturing this month’s Bartender Style subjects in a bar, the Fords, a pair of dashing cocktail nomads, have kindly invited us into their lovely home, high above the city and the East River.
Breezy, sunlit and uncluttered, with pops of bright colors, their home very much reflects the two of them.
And, sprinkled throughout are pieces that nod to their involvement in the cocktail world.
Their respective brands even live side by side…
Kyle is the Cocktail & Spirits Expert for Rémy Cointreau and, since March, has been named Impresario of Collectif 1806, which means he now manages the entire brand ambassador program for Rémy Cointreau, currently expanding through the overseas market.
Kyle didn’t really get into fashion until he started bartending. And even then, self admittedly, he went in for the classic San Francisco hipster bartender look at the time – suspenders, gigantic mustache, the works! After his days in finance, it was all part of the creative outlet that he found solace in as a bartender. The move to New York had a significant effect on his style. These days, his overall look skews more towards what he dubs “dapper grandpa”.
In fact, Kyle counts Rachel’s Grandpa, Big Ed, tattooed on her forearm, as one of his biggest style inspirations. Big Ed’s motto is “having fun!” and with that attitude, you can imagine, he is not afraid of bold prints, bright colors and little details like pocket squares and tie bars. Both Kyle and Rachel seem to have adopted this cheery approach to living and dressing!
Kyle admits that since working for a premium brand like Rémy Cointreau, his signature quirky style has definitely gotten elevated, and he tends to dress up now more than ever.
In her role as National Brand Ambassador to Tanqueray Gin, Rachel has been affectionately referred to as Lady Tanqueray these last four years. She’s now leading the entire gin category as Diageo National Gin Ambassador, but Rachel assures us she’ll always be Lady Tanqueray!
Rachel has had an interest in fashion for quite some time. She went to Otis College of Art and Design for Fashion and originally thought that was what she wanted to do. Regardless, fashion has always been a creative outlet for her. When asked what her off duty look is like, she says things like “fashion doesn’t rest” and “style doesn’t have an off day!” And she means it!
For years, Rachel strictly wore Betsey Johnson. While her sartorial choices have broadened and have become more refined, there are remnants of that designer’s sense of whimsy and embellishment peppered throughout Rachel’s wardrobe. Most specifically her adorable (and vast) collection of shoes!
Rachel has enjoyed representing Tanqueray stylistically and matching the qualities the historic brand evokes – sophisticated with an edge, bold with a sense of mystique. She is classic glam, with an edgy quality, herself. Rachel isn’t afraid of being a little sexy but prefers below the knee hemlines and classic cuts, mixing up modern and retro looks.
Rachel and Kyle both contributed a cocktail recipe, both martinis…but with slight variations. While at home, whether they are relaxing or entertaining, they agree that the martini is their go-to cocktail – like Nick & Nora! However, precisely what’s inside differs from Ford to Ford…
Rachel stuck with a classic recipe of 50:50 gin and vermouth with a few dashes of bitters, staying true to her Tanqueray. And Kyle took a page from one of his favorite cocktail authors, Bernard DeVoto of The Hour, and created an “obnoxiously precise, delicious martini” with Botanist Gin. And, they happened to put these lovely drinks in Nick & Nora glasses, as if sealing their classic couple doppelgänger comparison forever. I suggest you do the same!
Ford Mixology Lab’s Classic Martini and Dry Martini:
Rachel’s Kyle’s Martini, ClassicMartini, Dry (Bernard DeVoto Style)
1 1/2 oz London Dry Gin (Tanqueray) 2.5 oz Botanist Gin
1 1/2 oz Dry Vermouth 4 tsp. Dry Vermouth
2 dashes bitters
Stir well with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This monthly series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, will explore and document the personal style of some of the best bartenders in New York City and beyond. This month, we’ve featured the skilled and always smartly dressed bartender about town, Marlo Gamora in his new home, the freshly opened tropical oasis in the east village, Mother of Pearl.
You know how when you meet a bartender who fits so well into his or her environment, you can’t quite tell if it was the bar or the bartender that came up with the look first? Did this swanky venue birth this stylish fellow or is he just making everything around him look damn good? Well, that’s what it’s like meeting Marlo Gamora in Mother of Pearl for the first time.
The tropical Polynesian vibe at the newly opened Mother of Pearl is the perfect backdrop to Marlo’s colorful, mid-century leaning aesthetic.
While Mother of Pearl doesn’t bill itself as strictly a tiki bar, the menu and design is heavily influenced by tiki culture. For Marlo, that’s all good. Because tiki is his jam.
Marlo started getting into Tiki cocktails and culture early in his bartending career, around 6 years ago. Having already been involved in a few other retro subcultures like the rockabilly, punk, burlesque and swing dancing scenes, his discovery and subsequent obsession with the tiki world (he has collected 200 tiki mugs at last count!) seemed like a natural evolution. He was easily able to apply his pre-existing fanboy and collector sensibilities to an exciting and re-emerging culture, that included cocktails, of course, and also a sort of lifestyle as well.
Tiki culture dates back to the 1930s, when Don the Beachcomber, a Polynesian themed bar and restaurant opened up in Hollywood, hosting an array of movie stars over the years. Trader Vic, a Tiki themed venue in Oakland opened soon after, and eventually became an international chain. But it wasn’t until after World War II, when American servicemen returned from the South Pacific with mementos and a nostalgia for the area they had just been stationed in, that tiki culture really started taking off in the states. Its peak in popularity was in the late 1950s when knockoffs of Don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic started popping up around the country. The tiki craze lasted well into the 1960s, but by the late 70s and 80s, tiki drinks and the kitschy culture around it was looked at as frivolous, overdone and out of fashion.
Marlo’s tiki studies relied heavily on books written by tiki cocktail historian, Jeff “Beachbum” Berry, often credited for having helped usher in this next phase of tiki enthusiasm. When he came across Sippin’ Safari, Berry’s fourth book, he discovered that Don the Beachcomber had staffed his restaurants primarily with bartenders from the Philippines, and for years, a Filipino tiki community existed because of this. It was the first time that the history of Filipino tiki bartenders was documented to this extent. After finding this out, as a Filipino himself, Marlo’s connection to all things tiki was sealed. After a few bartending gigs around town, (including a stint at Middle Branch with our last Bartender Style subject, Lucinda Sterling!) Marlo landed at Filipino gastropub, Jeepney in the East Village. It was there that he really had the creative freedom to explore, experiment, and hone his tiki cocktail making skills, all the while embracing his cultural connection to that world.
While Marlo looks at home in the bright floral shirts and light linen pants that he wears behind the Mother of Pearl bar, he’s also attracted to a variety of other styles – for instance, classic, early American work wear. Marlo likes the patina of used, aged pieces that are well-worn and well-loved. For cocktail competitions, he often wears a late 1960s vintage apron that he’s found and replaced the strings on.
And when he’s off duty, he looks to style icons Steve McQueen and Cary Grant as inspirations.
On the day of our shoot, Marlo was able to share with us a few cocktails on and off the menu. They were all so beautiful…and delicious!
But the recipe we just had to go with was the incredibly gorgeous “Tide is High”, a tropical tequila and mezcal concoction with cashew milk!
Tide is High
1 1/2 oz Cashew Milk
3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
3/4 oz Reposado Tequila
3/4 oz Mezcal
Directions: Whip all ingredients, pour over crushed ice, garnish with flower & cashews
When we came into Mother of Pearl to shoot Marlo’s Bartender Style piece, they had only been open a total of three days at that point. We were so grateful for the patience of the entire staff still working out their prep routines as we infiltrated their space and monopolized the time of one of their key bartenders. A deep, heartfelt thanks to those pictured here: Max Green, Oscar Carbonell, Paul Peffer, Jane Danger, Christina Thurston & Marlo Gamora, of course. And thanks to Austin Hennelly, Assistant General Manager, not pictured here but cool as a cucumber while trying to open the doors amidst multiple photo shoots!
Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This monthly series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, will explore and document the personal style of some of the best bartenders in New York City and beyond. This month, we’ve featured the lovely and talented cocktail maven behind New York City’s Middle Branch, Lucinda Sterling.
Bartenders are intimidating. In the world of the service industry, there is no question that the bartender is at the top of the food chain. A bartender has complete control of your panacea for the evening and when and how it is to be delivered to you. Their status seems to elevate the more skilled they are…and the thirstier you are! And if they’re highly attractive? Oof, forget it. You’ll be pining all night.
It’s rare that you want to be friends with your waiter over the course of a meal. But your bartender? You’ll most likely want to be BFFs right away. Even if it’s just for the night. Because, booze. Also, there is just a coolness factor that is created by that 30-40 inch separation of bar top. They have something that you want. Again, booze. Also, attitude. There are few things more satisfying than finally winning over that cool kid bartender who seemed a little elusive, slightly standoffish at the beginning of the night.
Lucinda Sterling, bartender and managing partner of Murray Hill’s beloved cocktail den, Middle Branch, is far from chilly. But her cool as a cucumber demeanor helps to give her an air of intimidation. She’s actually, self-admittedly, fairly shy, but is in a business that challenges that at every turn. Upon meeting Lucinda for the first time, she comes off as a straight shooter, a lady who means business and someone who knows her stuff. She’s also a total babe. So, yeah, she’s sort of intimidating.
But then she cracks that all wide open with a full-bodied, throaty laugh and a smile that ups the wattage in the room, and you realize pretty quickly that there’s a lovely little goofball under that elegant veneer. A few sips into one of her craftily made, knock-em-out-of-the-park cocktails doesn’t hurt to warm things up! The cool girl behind the bar just got even cooler.
This dichotomy of characteristics – reserved yet approachable, conservative, with a wild streak, introverted in a highly sociable industry – is what makes Lucinda’s style as a top bartender in the city so unique. Lucinda is a delectable cocktail, herself; Her diverse ethnic mix of German, Irish, Polish, French, Chinese and Cambodian has certainly resulted in a lovely mug, but may also be responsible for these contrasting qualities. Whatever it is, we’re smitten.
Lucinda is a fan of color…in her glass and behind the bar. She likes to wear dresses that highlight her figure in bold colors. But she is careful about showing too much skin when she’s on duty, choosing dresses with sleeves and covered décolletage. Form and function are equally important to Lucinda. Comfort is key.
That idea of comfort extends to her footwear. She prefers heels but chooses the support of Aerosoles, which, she claims “saves bartender’s feet”.
Lucinda credits a couple of people for getting her involved in the bar industry. The most obvious is her mentor and partner in Middle Branch, Sasha Petraske, the legendary bartender and proprietor responsible for helping to revive the craft cocktail movement in New York City. You could say, Lucinda is a Petraske loyalist. She got her start at Sasha’s first bar in New York, Milk & Honey in 2005 as a server. And a few years later, she decided to hone her skills behind the bar at his next venture, Little Branch. While still a server at Milk & Honey, Lucinda was inspired by her pastry chef boyfriend at the time, James Beard Award Winner, Johnny Iuzzini. She had been watching him do stints as a guest bartender at famed New York speakeasy PDT, and it wasn’t even his chosen field! Her competitive nature pushed her forward. She was then encouraged to take the leap behind the stick herself.
By 2012 Lucinda had proven herself as a formidable player in the bar industry and became full managing partner in Petraske’s latest cocktail empire extension, Middle Branch. Besides running the day-to-day operations, she has also been able to have a hand in the design of the bar. From the charming pineapple light fixtures…
…to the family photos placed throughout the bar. (The below is a photo of Sterling’s mother)
Lucinda’s classic leaning style is peppered throughout…
And let’s not forget Lucinda’s creative mark on the stunning cocktails that go out night after night!
As with Lucinda’s personal style, her drinks are equal parts form and function, beautiful and delicious! She shared with us three very different, seasonal cocktails from Middle Branch’s recent menu. I loved all of them and it was pretty difficult to choose a favorite, but the Northern Lights, a gin and grapefruit based tipple, narrowly won out.
Not to mention, this is the PERFECT sipper for this time of year. It’s approachable and very easy to make at home. Nothing to be intimidated of here!
Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This monthly series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, will explore and document the personal style of some of the best bartenders in New York City and beyond. This month, we’ve featured the brilliant Masahiro Urushido of Manhattan’s Saxon + Parole.
New York City is home to some of the most stylish people around. And, there is no shortage of creative expression, sartorially and otherwise, exhibited behind the many cocktail bars peppering this city. There are stylish bartenders aplenty…
An exhibitionist persona, a peacock quality must be assumed by the bartender before taking the stage behind the stick to perform for the evening. Presentation is key. Not only for the meticulously crafted drinks involved, but for the presenter as well.
But we all know that it’s only when style and substance converge that something sublime really happens.
As we hone in on some of the city’s standouts for this Bartender Style series, we are discovering how skill and presentation behind the bar, along with self-expression are combined to create a bartender’s personal style. Masa Urushido, Bar Manager at Saxon + Parole and the reigning Chivas Masters Global Bartending Champion, is a perfect example of this skill/style convergence.
One of the things we love about Masa’s personal style, besides his dazzling smile, incredible warmth and all around sparkly personality, is his ability to make it all seem so effortless.
From his clean and classic Americana aesthetic…
…to his swift and masterful ice carving skills.
Masa has perfected a sense of ease and confidence behind the bar
…and he looks damn sharp doing it!
Growing up in Nagano, Japan, spending his days snow boarding and delivering pizza, little did young Masa know that in just a few short years after finishing high school in Toyko, he’d be working his way up from food runner to head bartender at one of the hottest spots in town, Tableaux. It was there where his passion for cocktails took root. Over the next 6 years, Masa immersed himself in the craft, learned the art of ice carving, and gained the necessary skills to compete against some of the best bartenders in the area. In 2008 at the age of 26, Masa made the move to New York City to go to school. But before his big move, his former boss reached out to Paul Franich, brand ambassador of 42Below Vodka, who then connected him to famed mixologist, Naren Young. That relationship turned out to be a fortuitous one; Naren became Masa’s mentor and then invited him to be a part of the award-winning bar program at Saxon + Parole.
Masa is drawn to sturdy, often U.S. made pieces that last. He rarely buys clothes but when he does, he is willing to spend on quality. His wardrobe skews to the utilitarian, slightly sentimental, and well worn. The same can be said for his bar tools.
Some of Masa’s favorite tools of the trade are his Hawthorne strainer with extra tight coils, so it catches all of the little bits, a Japanese knife specific for ice carving, with his name engraved on it, given to him in London from his friend Theo Watt, and a bar spoon gifted to him from top Shanghai bartender, Cross Yu…
…and we can’t forget his Moleskine notebook that he uses to sketch out cocktail recipes. He keeps one a year and has total of 10 kept over the course of his bartending career.
The day that we came into Saxon + Parole for Masa’s photo-shoot, they were just about to roll out the gorgeous spring cocktail menu.
Luckily Masa was willing to share the recipe with all of us!
The Spring Daiquiri 2 oz Cana Brava Rum
3/4 oz lime juice
1/2 oz Nardini Cedro
1/2 oz lemon thyme simple syrup
3 fresh sugar snap peas
Method: muddle sugar snap peas in the lemon thyme simple syrup. Add all ingredients and shake with ice. Double strain into frozen glass. Glass: large coupe Garnish: halved sugar snap peas and tarragon salt (half rim)
Bartender Style is a collaboration between Bit by a Fox and photographer Rose Callahan. This new, monthly series, exclusively on the Bit by a Fox blog, will explore and document the personal style of some of the best bartenders in New York City and beyond. Kicking off this series, and right on the heels of their James Beard nomination for Outstanding Bar Program, we have chosen to profile the beyond dapper gents behind one of the most stylish bars around, Maison Premiere in Brooklyn, New York.
The bar is a stage. And all of us imbibers merely players. But the bartender? The bartender is the star of the show.
There is something extremely theatrical about cocktail slinging. It’s no wonder performers of all kinds have always gravitated to the business and craft of cocktails. The renaissance of classic cocktails in recent years, has had people embracing quality made, hand crafted drinks, which in turn, has brought much more attention to the bartenders as expert craftsmen (and women).
The bartender is being called upon to be more creative than ever, at times eclipsing the celebrity chef in innovation as well as press mentions. We are now living in the age of “Startenders” – celebrity drink slingers, mixologists and personalities. And, as anyone who has ever sidled up to a craft cocktail bar can attest, the creativity and flair that produces inventive and aesthetically pleasing cocktails, is very often translated sartorially.
This self-expression extends to twisty mustaches, pin curls and colorful tattoos, yes, but style is more than all that. It’s the tools involved, techniques used and all around ceremony and performance: a service style. Most of the women and men who have risen in the ranks of this cocktail revolution, and are at the top of their game, no matter what their style, would probably all agree on one thing; It’s all about the guest.
The best bartenders already know that the style adopted and cultivated behind the bar is as much a part of the customer’s experience as the feel of that bar stool they’re perched upon, or the level and tone of light that flickers from the candles and wall sconces and bounces off the prettied faces all gathered under one roof. Every piece of the equation is experiential.
Sometimes the style behind the bar is refined by the environment itself. This can be said with certainty when it comes to the spectacularly romantic Maison Premiere in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Owners Joshua Boissy and Krystof Zizka opened their absinthe and oyster bar in 2011, designing it to feel like the lobby of an old hotel in New Orleans’ French Quarter. But the marble-topped horseshoe bar that dominates the front room, and the first thing you see upon walking through the doors, has a distinct Parisian quality. They’ve since expanded their menu to include more food items, and the cocktail list, while still favoring the green fairy, has expanded as well, and changes with the seasons. The spare, elegantly worn space is fairly light and bright for a cocktail bar and is actually absinthe-toned in places. It lends itself to a particular kind of style. One with a nod to the past, a by-gone era where ladies painted their lips in jewel tones and wore flowers in their hair and gentlemen suited up with pocket squares and sported tie bars…and upheld a sense of etiquette and decorum.
For our very first Bartender Style profile, Rose and I knew that we had to feature the exquisite Maison Premiere and the extremely well dressed gents who help to make walking into that place feel otherworldly.
Meet Head Bartender and Beverage Director Maxwell Britten, Head Bartender William Elliot and Service Director, Ben Crispin.
Maxwell, Will and Ben are perfect representatives of Maison Premiere and the style that goes along with it. They might all get their haircuts from an equally vintage-influenced bloke down the street, Russell Manley of Ludlow Blunt, inspiring clients to ask for the Maison Premiere haircut, but they each have their own distinct style.
Will has been a bartender for 11 years, four of them have been at Maison since it opened. He primarily shops in thrift stores like Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange, but gravitates towards a more modern aesthetic. He doesn’t like to be too time specific and ends up favoring neutral pieces. Hermés is Will’s preferred tie designer and he brings bags of them to work. Like many of the men at Maison, tie bars and vintage collar bars are always in rotation. Some of his work style is primarily utilitarian – like using arm bands to adjust cuff length on a shirt, rolling up the right sleeve for cleaning purposes and tucking his tie into a shirt or vest so it does not dip into the sink when washing glasses. On his off days, Will wears mostly black since Maison is “all about color”.
Maxwell brought Will on board to help open Maison four years ago, and had only started bartending four years before that. But the cocktail program he’s developed at Maison belies his years. Just ask the James Beard Foundation.
All you really need to know about Maxwell is that he wears a suit jacket for most of the service. He’s that committed. When developing the aesthetic behind the bar, he gravitated towards classic mid-century tailored suits. He favors bright, flashy colors when it comes to his socks and ties. And while his style has evolved since he’s been at Maison, he has always been known for his suspenders.
The stakes were raised, however, when Ben came on board…
As Maison Premiere’s Service Director, Ben is truly the face of the bar, and often one of the first faces guests will see. And, he takes his job very seriously. He has never been a bartender, however he is their ambassador. Ben is the bartender’s representative when they have nary a moment for a chat. A liaison between the bartender and guest, he lovingly collects the stories and history of the bar, and is a font of knowledge when it comes to the eras in which many of the cocktails on the menu originate from. He is also a sort of style curator for Maison Premiere.
There has been a culture that has developed within Maison Premiere, stylistically. And much of this is due to Ben’s presence. When Ben came on board three years ago, his elevated everyday dress choices and attention to detail style-wise, created a certain level of friendly competition among the men. This one-upmanship pushed them all to hone their own personal style further. But that hasn’t kept them from looking out for one another. Ben prefers Ferragamo ties and the other guys will keep a look out for him. And if Ben finds a Hermés tie, he knows it’s going to Will.
Ben describes his style as Vintage Americana and takes his cues from the Japanese and their fascination in American made products. He’s into well crafted, handmade boots, and finds vintage Allen Edmonds shoes off eBay. Ben says that he often discovers gems like a Savile Rowe dress suit at Goodwill because other people are not looking for men’s items from the 20s, 30s and 40s.
In the hiring and training of staff over the years, Ben notes that they have developed a lot of “style rules” at Maison. And they are specific!
Maison Premiere Style Uniform
For the female hosts and servers – high contrast patterned tights with a black pencil skirt, off white blouse in a vintage style and a black blazer. They should wear bright red lipstick and a flower in their hair. For the gentlemen – dark slacks and vintage wingtips, simple light-colored dress shirt, a patterned tie and a dark vest. A tie bar and a part in their hair is the last part of the uniform. That is the basics of what they ask the staff to wear. There are times when they have to ask someone to change some elements of their uniform. Most of the time it is a blouse that looks too modern or a tie that is not right with the pattern. They don’t let the staff wear solid tights, plaid or solid ties and dark-colored dress shirts. These rules exist so everyone looks similar but not identical.
One of the questions we’ll always ask for this Bartender Style column will have to do with a favorite cocktail that represents the bar, and its recipe. We’ll leave you with Will’s favorite, á la Louisiane, a complex, Manhattan-style rye and absinthe concoction created in New Orleans in the 1930s. It has been on the menu since they opened their doors. And we see why.
á la Louisiane
4 dashes of Absinthe Verte
4 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
1/2 ounce Benedictine
3/4 ounce Carpano Antica vermouth
1 3/4 ounce Rittenhouse rye whiskey
Pour ingredients in a cocktail shaker and shake several times. Stir well and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
This week on the Bit by a Fox Podcast, we are kicking off an exciting new series, The Master Blend – A Bartender Series.
In collaboration with Bertoux Brandy, the Bit by a Fox Podcast will host a series of interviews with some of America’s most acclaimed and innovative bartenders. They’ll be discussing their distinct style, inspirations, and journey to influencing today’s cocktail culture.
Kicking off this first episode in the series is Aaron Polsky. Part Mad Scientist, part Jimmy Page, part sweet Jersey boy, Aaron is the creative bar director behind the lively Rock & Roll cocktail bar in Hollywood, Harvard & Stone.
Aaron’s BERTOUX Brandy cocktail recipe is a riff on the French 75, named after a Kiss song, Black Diamond.
Black Diamond 1.5 oz BERTOUX Brandy .5 oz St Germain Elderflower Liqueur .5 oz homemade elderberry or blueberry liqueur* .75 oz fresh lime juice Champagne
Shake BERTOUX Brandy, liqueurs and juice over ice. Strain into coupe with sugared rim. Top with champagne or sparkling wine
**Blend 1/2lb fresh elderberries or blueberries with 500mL vodka. Strain, combine with 500mL simple syrup and bottle. Will hold indefinitely.
The Chicago Style Cocktail Conference is not your typical booze-fest. The three women founders behind this new cocktail conference coming to Chicago in May – coinciding with the James Beard Awards – are making it a point to address some much needed issues in the cocktail community – such as diversity, sexism and inclusion. They will even touch on substance abuse and sustainability in their featured panels.
Sharon Bronstein, director of marketing for the 86 Co. – a spirits & importing company, Shelby Allison, owner of the celebrated Chicago tiki bar Lost Lake, and Caitlin Laman, decorated bartender and beverage director at the Ace Hotel Chicago are the women behind this forward thinking cocktail conference that is already getting a ton of buzz.
For this week’s Bit by a Fox Podcast I spoke with Shelby Allison, a James Beard Award nominee, and one of the founders of Chicago Style Cocktail Conference.
Shelby also revealed to us her current go-to, pre-batched cocktail that she keeps in the fridge for a moment’s notice – The Florentine – an equal parts cocktail created at NYC bar, Attaboy.
In the spirit of the Negroni, this equal parts drink has vermouth and a bitter-sweet Italian liqueur. But in this stirred cocktail, the vermouth is dry and is accompanied by a low ABV (alcohol by volume) aperitif wine – Cocchi Americano. Cynar – an Amaro made from artichokes – is much darker and herbaceous than its Italian relative, Campari. This aromatic combo makes for a complex, rich and bittersweet sipper.
The Florentine created at New York’s Attaboy
1 oz Cynar
1 oz Cocchi Americano
1 oz Dolin Dry Vermouth
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir until well chilled, and then strain into a cocktail glass. Optional garnish: orange peel.