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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Bittermens' Janet Glasser on Bitter Liqueurs

Categories: Behind the Bar

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After trying Bittermens gentian liqueur in the Shanty's Sauvetage cocktail, we decided to check out Bittermens Spirits, a Brooklyn-based company that specializes in bitter and herbal liqueurs. We found that its products have been embraced by some of the city's top bars, like PDT, Amor y Amargo, and Dram, and caught up with one of the co-founders, Janet Glasser, who took time out from bottling to tell us where she gets ideas for her unique flavor combinations.

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The Bourgeois Pig's Frank Cisneros on Forgotten European Spirits

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Jena Cumbo

To create the sophisticated drink menu at the new Bourgeois Pig in Carroll Gardens, Frank Cisneros has been delving into the often mysterious world of European liquor. He told us about his adventures tracking down some of the forgotten spirits and liqueurs from the Continent and mixing them back into the bar scene.


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Hella Bitter's Benjamin Ahr Harrison on Artisanal Bitters

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Hella Bitter owners Benjamin Ahr Harrison and Eduardo Simeon at the Meadow

Hella Bitter, a Brooklyn-based start-up, sells artisanal bitters that are quickly becoming the product of choice at some of our favorite bars and restaurants, like Noorman's Kil, the Spotted Pig, and the Mermaid Inn. So we decided to ask one of the company's owners, Benjamin Ahr Harrison, to explain how Hella Bitter got its start and what sets its bitters apart from the competition. He gave us some great answers and his own recipe for a Manhattan cocktail as an extra bonus.


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The Wayland's Brian Hawthorne on Spring Drinks and Impromptu Bar Concerts

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Brian Hawthorne is one of the owners of the Wayland (700 East 9th Street, 212-777-7022), where he tends bar and sometimes performs late-night impromptu concerts for his customers. We asked him about one of our favorite drinks on the menu -- a margarita made with kale juice -- spring cocktails, and his musical talents.


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Top Hops' Ted Kenny on Growlers

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Martha Camarillo

After years of working as a bartender and a marketing guy for Anheuser-Busch, Ted Kenny decided to test out his beer chops by opening up a store of his own on the Lower East Side, Top Hops Beer Shop (94 Orchard Street, 212-254-4677), where you can grab a pint to stay or a growler to take home. Of course, we had to ask him for a St. Patrick's Day beer pick -- he likes O'Hara's, an Irish microbrewery known for its stouts and red ales -- but we were more interested in some long-term beer advice. He gave us some great tips for switching over to growlers, and how to pair beer with spicy chocolate.


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Billy Deal on Noorman's Kil's Collection of 326 Types of Whiskey

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Kevin Beard

Noorman's Kil, a Williamsburg grilled cheese joint and bar, prides itself on its massive collection of whiskey -- the bottle count is currently at 326. The bartenders there help customers navigate this intimidating selection by holding free whiskey tastings every Wednesday and being ready to share everything they know about their favorite booze. So we asked one of them, Billy Deal, who's also one of the restaurant's owners, to talk whiskey shop with us.


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Matt Piacentini on The Beagle's "Academic" Cocktails

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Matt Piacentini helped develop the Beagle's old-school cocktail menu, which we love here at Fork in the Road. He's a little bit of a cocktail history nerd, so we asked him to explain how he researched the drinks on the menu and the story behind the restaurant's unusual pairing boards.

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Five Leaves' Joshua Van Horn on Brunch Drinks

Categories: Behind the Bar

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Camilo Fuentealba

Joshua Van Horn is the main man behind the new cocktail menu at the Greenpoint neighborhood spot, Five Leaves. The restaurant is usually pretty hopping around brunch time, most likely because of its impressive daytime cocktail selection, so we asked Van Horn what makes his drink list so special, and the secret to the perfect morning pick-me-up.


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Orient Express' Sam Ziar on Romantic Cocktails

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Alexia Nader

Sam Ziar tends the bar at Orient Express, one of the West Village's most romantic spots. Today, on Valentine's Day, he expects to be one busy man, but he took some time out to talk to Fork in the Road about his favorite winter ingredients and what makes a great Valentine's Day drink.  


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