Aska's Eamon Rockey on Neighborhood Loyalty, Storytelling, and Serious Cosmopolitans

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Courtesy of Aska
Eamon Rockey
Eamon Rockey is a patient man. As co-owner and general manager of Aska, Williamsburg's new multi-course Scandinavian restaurant, he also helms the laborious cocktail program -- Rockey often spends months refining house-made tinctures and mixes before serving a finished drink to diners. But he also knows how to have a good time.

"In the end, it's all about making the drinks delicious. And that's a personal understanding," says the cocktail guru. Sure it is, but considering Rockey's pedigreed background (Eleven Madison Park, Atera), we'd be willing to forgo our decision-making abilities and trust his palate for an evening. Rockey chatted with Fork in the Road about his latest project, his Brooklyn neighborhood, and why cosmopolitans aren't just for Carrie Bradshaw.

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The Third Man's Wolfgang Ban Explores the 'Secret' East Village

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Courtesy of The New Potato
Chef Partners Wolfgang Ban and Eduard Frauneder

January in New York is well-suited to a cloak and dagger mentality and these dark and stormy days can set the stage for some equally heady nights in our suddenly-eerie metropolis.

Our advice? Embrace that film noir feeling and grab a drink at The Third Man, the new cocktail den on Avenue C from the Edi & the Wolf team. The bar takes its namesake from a classic spy film starring Orson Wells, and riffs on many of the Cold War-era references from the time. "You'll see references to the film in some of cocktails themselves, names and ingredients," says Wolfgang Ban, half of the chef/partner team (along with Eduard Frauneder) behind the project. "The cool thing is, Avenue C is still kind of a 'secret' area of New York City, just starting to be discovered."

Today, Ban chatted with us about the bar's Viennese influences, his favorite bar back home, and how to fix a tough day with Austrian Blaufraenkisch (or what we call red wine).

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

Categories: Behind the Bar

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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.

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Ben Scorah of Bill's Food and Drink on Classic Cocktails, Car Bombs, and Hanky Panky

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Courtesy of Bill's Food and Drink

Ben Scorah is the bartender you want to introduce to your parents.

The affable Brit (London-born, New York-based) helms the bar at Bill's Food and Drink, the revamped Midtown restaurant that previously held Bill's Gay Nineties. Scorah has such an appreciation for the history of the venue, and he works to incorporate an old world vibe into his modern cocktail menu. To be more specific, Scorah's drinks are equally suited to satisfy the old souls and the young at heart.

Not that any of his success should come as a surprise. In 2009, Scorah was named GQ Magazine and Bombay Sapphire's Most Inspired Bartender in New York City. He's also a partner in the uptown favorite, Beekman Bar and Books. Today, Scorah chatted with Fork in the Road about cocktail integrity, his hangover remedy, and what to make of a little hanky panky.


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Tequila Cocktail Tutorial: Amateur Hour Is Over

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Wil Petre
The Cocktail Weenies, Petre, left, and Mikos.
Perhaps you made some killer Jell-O shots in undergrad, but if that's as good as your bartending game gets, The Cocktail Weenies are eager to teach you more -- and they'll put on a show while they're at it.

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Bourbon 101 With Trey Zoeller, Founder of Jefferson's Bourbon

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Today, we chatted with Trey Zoeller, the founder and master blender of Jefferson's Bourbon who gave us a brief history lesson and elaborated on the difference between whisky and bourbon.

Zoeller carries on the tradition of his ancestors, the McLains and the Kynes, who have roots deep in the bourbon industry dating back to the late 18th and 19th centuries.

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Tanqueray Dry Martini Recipe From Angus Winchester

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Tanqueray

Today we provide for you a cocktail recipe from Angus Winchester, a well-known martini expert who actually has a cocktail, the Winchester, named after him.

"The Winchester is basically a gin zombie," says Winchester, who is Tanquery Gin's brand ambassador. "I'm flattered to see myself being named after drinks. When someone names a drink after you, it's like being granted immortality."


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Jason Littrell and JBird Cocktails' Prescription Julep

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JBird
Derby Day might be over, but luckily for us, juleps are still on the menu. Today we bring you the recipe for the classic Prescription Julep, which dates back to the 1800s.

The drink was first printed in an 1857 issue of Harper's Monthly and since then, has been modified and tweaked into various variations. "Some people says it goes back to 1803," bartender Jason Littrell says. "The history is really fuzzy, so it's impossible to say where it actually came from."

Littrell is the co-director of beverages at JBird Cocktails, a speakeasy on the Upper East Side. The San Diego native was previously behind the bar at The Randolph and picked up his craft when cocktail maven Sasha Petraske came in as a consultant.

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Sheldon Wiley, the Fastest Bartender in the World, on Being Him and More World Records

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Sheldon Wiley

A little more than a year ago, New York bartender Sheldon Wiley clenched the Guinness World Record for the most drinks made in an hour. He needed 938 to break the record. Wiley made 1,043 drinks in one hour.

Although it has been a while since he has made headlines, Wiley asserts that he has not been getting rusty. In fact, he's prepping for a nationwide tour to bartend in all 50 states in 50 days, and will soon compete in what he calls "a smaller event," where he will attempt to break the world record for opening 2,000 beer bottles in less than 28 minutes.

The man is busy, but we caught up with him for a phone interview on his recent ventures and ambitions.

Why do you do what you do?
It was quite simple for me. When I was entering my twenties, my older brother was a bar manager at the time. Quite honestly, I was in college, I was poor, and I was chasing girls around. I was looking to get more money and meet more girls. It's kind of funny looking back on it, but that's exactly what actually what got me into bartending.


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Tortaria's Diego Mejia on Making Margaritas

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Clarissa Wei
Diego Mejia

Located near Union Square, Tortaria is a Mexican eatery and bar that serves up one of the best margaritas in the city. Responsible for this amazing concoction is head bartender Diego Mejia, who is originally from Mexico and has been behind bars since he was teenager. We caught up with Mejia during lunch hour for a quick Q&A on margaritas, hangover drinks, and Mexican food.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I'm originally from Mexico. I was born in Mexico City and grew up in the restaurant business. My family, they owned a business in Mexico. But then when I was 16, I moved to New York to bartend.

How did you learn how to bartend?
When I lived in Mexico, I worked in a small cantina. So I always made drinks for fun and played with tequila, rum, and all types of liquor. When I came to New York City, I just got good opportunities because I knew about liquor.

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