Extra Fancy's Robert Krueger Makes Fun, Fast, and Approachable Cocktails
Extra Fancy (302 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-422-0939), a bar and restaurant in Williamsburg, is quickly becoming known for its laid-back atmosphere and top-notch food and drinks thanks in no small part to bar program head Robert Krueger, a veteran of Employees Only and Macao Trading Company. We caught up with him to hear about the start of Extra Fancy and Mixed Company, the twice-a-month guest bartending night that features some big names in the industry.
How did you fall into bartending?
After college I got a summer job working at a French restaurant. I had a friend who told me that in order to be a proper human being you should work in a restaurant. I was a runner -- cutting bread, scooping ice cream, flambéing dessert. I felt like I was sustaining people. In New York, people live out in restaurants and bars. It's a very important role.
From there, Dushan Zaric offered me a position at Employees Only. They trained me as the bar back. Then I took over ordering, then I was made bar manager, and I did that for five years.
Were you learning constantly?
There are many things to learn and things I still don't know and would like to learn. There's the element of creative mixology but then there's the bar technique. Certain experiences you can only learn by doing. Dushan would say that going to bartending school and mixing colored liquids is like trying to learn how to cook with plastic food. The substitution really doesn't work; you have to do the real thing.
How is Extra Fancy's bar program different from Employees Only?
In terms of infusions and syrups, we do a little less cooking, so it's a bit of a break, but it's fun to know how to execute. Extra Fancy's menu is more from the bottle. Drinks are ready to go. Technique-wise, it's the same process and tools to make the drinks as at EO. We've incorporated certain tricks like the spray stencil that says "extra fancy" -- if you spray bitters on an egg white base you can make whatever design you want. It's got a big crowd-pleasing effect. You want Instagram bait. The cocktails have to be beautiful.
What was your goal with Extra Fancy's bar menu?
The bar program here was designed to be fun and fast with high quality cocktails. There are some serious and hard hitting drinks but then a lot of crowd pleasers -- not stuff that's complicated just to be complicated.