What makes you a good bartender?
I think I am an affable person, approach-
able. I like to make my guests feel at ease
while they are sitting at my bar. So often
in the cocktail setting, if a guest is not ex-
perienced, they can be intimidated. I like
to take the pretension out. It’s just drinks.
Awesome drinks, to be sure. But we’re not
at a fine art museum.
What one thing would you change about the
bar business in the U.S. today?
Many bartenders work without health in-
surance. I can’t count the number of ben-
efits, Kickstarter campaigns and outright
pleas for financial help I’ve seen from our
fellow workers who have been injured on
the job. It just isn’t right. Most bartenders
don’t have sick time, vacation or insur-
ance built into their employment as many
other professions do.
When you work on crafting a new drink,
what’s uppermost in your mind?
Foremost in my mind is balance. I’ve
been known lately for creating “concept
drinks,” wherein I take an idea and apply
it to drink making. This can be a flavor
idea, a cheeky name, what have you. But
before the actual mixing comes in, I have
an idea of where I want to end up.
Who do you most admire in the restaurant/
bar business?
I am a fan of Phil Ward [of Mayahuel]. I
was aware of his work before I moved to
New York, and have since seen his influ-
ence at each establishment where I have
worked. He’s a consummate weirdo with
an acute palate and a voracious appetite
for knowledge.
Recent drink innovation that excites you
the most? That bores you? That makes you
scratch your head?
I had a good time this spring clarifying
drinks. Barrel-aged drinks bore me. And
I’m still trying to figure out why carbon-
ated cocktails were a good idea.
If you weren’t tending bar, what would
you be doing?
I prefer not to think about it.
Time to brag: What makes you a good
bartender?
I am 100% hospitality first. I take my craft
seriously, and I can certainly make a de-
licious and well-balanced cocktail, but I
know my guests come back to me because
they have a great experience, not just a
great drink.
What’s particularly interesting about the
drinks in Boston?
The level of professionalism and care that
goes in to the cocktails in Boston contin-
ues to blow my mind. The attitude across
the board seems to be, if you are going to
do something, do it well, and exceed ex-
pectations.
What one thing would you change about
bartending in the U.S. today?
It seems really easy to get caught up in the
craft, the festivals, the media, and even
the new found “idolization” of the bar-
tender. I think it’s super important not to
forget why we are all in this in the first
place...the guest. I cannot stand sitting
in a bar where the bartenders take them-
selves too seriously and make the guests
feel stupid. Unfortunately I see it a lot.
When you work on crafting a new drink,
what’s uppermost in your mind?
No matter what the spirit or flavor profile,
balance is always the most important thing.
Anyone can put booze in a glass and call it
a drink, but the addition of balance is what
elevates the drink to a proper “cocktail.”
Recent drink innovation that excites
you the most?
I have always been a huge fan of Tiki
drinks and culture, and I am so glad peo-
ple aren’t scared to drink umbrella drinks
when they aren’t on vacation.
If you weren’t tending bar, what would
you be doing?
This started as a joke, but honestly I think
I’d make one hell of a lounge singer. No,
seriously...if anyone’s looking, let me know.
BRAD FARRAN
NEW YORK , NY
“I’m a dork. I like puns. I
think that spirit of fun comes
through in my drinks.”
SABRINA KERSHAW
BOSTON, MA
“Anyone can put booze in a
glass and call it a drink, but
the addition of balance is
what elevates the drink to a
proper ‘cocktail.’”
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