Behind the Bar: DelFrisco's Mike Saul Advises Martinis Before Steak, Hopes You Don't Order Mojitos

Categories: Behind the Bar

mike saul.jpg
Courtesy of DelFrisco's
Vintage steakhouses, like Bill's Food & Drink, are having a moment, and head bartender Mike Saul at DelFrisco's in Midtown knows the scene well. For the past decade, the old-school veteran has poured out hefty cocktails for the expense account set, while also altering to the Rockefeller Center masses who swarm his neighborhood. But much like his preferred drink -- a Ketel One on ice -- Saul is smooth and likable, with a bit of a bite. So much so that he was once revisited (and apologized to!) by a patron he had kicked out the night before. "We've all been there before," Saul says coolly. "It's a necessary evil."

In this week's Behind the Bar, Fork in the Road chatted with the booze expert about the best cocktails to prep your palate before a big steak dinner, how to break your drinking rut in 2013, and why bartenders don't want you to order a mojito.

At Del Frisco's, people are likely looking to drink as well as they'll eat. What cocktails help ease you into a big steak dinner?
I like to a good, stiff Martini before dinner. Whether my guests are out celebrating their big holiday bonuses, or trying to get a buzz on to prepare themselves for dinner with the out-of-town aunts, uncles, and cousins, a Martini is the go-to while waiting at the bar. The simple flavors of the drink are a good prelude to a night of indulgence.

We're past Champagne season. What should people resolve to drink in 2013?
I like to find out what people generally order at a bar, and try to work closely to that. If they love a great Manhattan, they can switch up the bitters to something like Bittercube's Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters. If a Negroni is more their speed, I'd suggest changing out the Campari with Aperol for a lighter, brighter cocktail with a slight orange tang to it.

You've been at this gig for a while. What do you dread making?
I give people what they want. But when our bar is five deep and people are getting antsy, if I keep getting hit with labor intensive cocktails, it can slow my groove down. Next time you are at a busy bar with throngs of thirsty people waiting for drinks, give the bartender a break and don't order a Mojito.

Answer this question: When it's last call, I'll pour myself a glass of...
Ketel One on ice. When the last guest leaves after an insane night of service a simple drink that requires no mixing, shaking, or pony tricks is just what I need to take the edge off!

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Location Info

Del Frisco's Steakhouse

1221 Ave. of the Americas, New York, NY

Category: Restaurant

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"Kettle One" ? Wake up, Mallory....


Mike is a great guy and can make an outstanding dirty martini, up, with three olives before they bring out your steak. Highly recommended! 


Great restaurant.  However, I would recommend a mojito to start off your evening.


@Heisenburg I'm with you.  Who is this guy to tell me what I can drink?  He's too busy?  Does he think I'm there for his convenience?  I'm pretty sure he's there to give the customers what they want, not what he feels like making.

As for the restaurant, it's a pretentious joke.  The architecture and design is as overdone as the smarmy service is intrusive.  It caters to a crowd of baby bankers who confuse cost with quality.