MEET JAVIER REY
I first met Javier and experienced the delight of his unique mixes while traveling to Miami Beach. I find it interesting that despite the extraordinary cities and countrysides, a simple seat at a bar sipping one of his masterpieces stands so strong in my memories. We have since become friends. Lucky me!
Javier is a self-proclaimed purveyor of Liquid Sin that has mastered his craft over a twenty-year career in a variety of thriving markets such as NYC, London, the Hamptons, Sydney, and Miami. He has worked side-by-side with the titans of the industry and has learned from the best. His greatest passion is helping inspire the next generation of bartenders with the history of the craft, how to be better and to love what they do. He has also traversed the world and on his travels has picked up a love of new and exotic flavors that are featured in his cocktail creations.
It’s hard, sometimes, to specify if Javier is a mixologist, bar specialist or simply an artist.
Here’s a mix of some of his favorites. While they are classics, his unique take on each makes the classic a new experience to be remembered.
FROM JAVIER TO YOU
Favorite cocktails: Mojito, Negroni, Hemingway Daiquiri, Pisco Sour
Classic Mojito: Why I love it
This Cuban classic is still one of my favorites when done correctly and it’s one of the first cocktails that bartenders learn to make. The secret is using fresh ingredients. The lovely balance between mint and rum creates a nice counter note to the acid from the lime and sugar. Most drinkers around the world have tried one (both good and bad) and it’s still one of the most popular cocktails in the world. I can drink these all day and whenever I’m on vacation, I like to start it off with one of these bad boys.
1. In a tall glass put your mint in and muddle it (flat bottomed muddler is preferred), this will release the oils in the mint that makes the whole drink. Leave the muddler in while you add the rum, sugar syrup, and lime juice. Rinse the muddler in the contents (you don’t want to lose the left-over oils on the muddler) then add ice, stir for around 5 seconds then top up with club soda. Garnish with either a mint sprig or a lime wheel.
2. In a cocktail shaker muddle the lime wedges, add the rum, sugar/sugar syrup, then add ice. Seal the shaker and shake vigorously NO LONGER than 5 seconds. You don’t want to overly dilute the drink and the mint will be beaten around by the ice to release the oils. Then you can either strain the drink into the glass with fresh ice or you can dump the whole contents into the glass (personally, I prefer to strain it). Then top it up with soda.
POSSIBLE VARIATIONS: Switch the mint with fresh basil and throw in some strawberries when in season. Key limes for standard limes and some delicious cumquats.
RECOMMENDED SPIRIT BRAND: Bacardi Silver rum or Santa Teresa Claro rum.
Negroni: Why I love it
This cocktail’s origins hail back to Italy and just like Ferrari and Gucci, this is also a perfect creation. Many times, a drink has one underlying flavor profile and bless the bar gods for inspiring this lovely libation because within it is a complex array of bitter, sweet, tart, and a herbal component. It does all this with just 3 ingredients: gin, Campari and sweet vermouth are the stars of this show and which gin and vermouth you go with can change the whole drink. In New York, around the 2010s it was the go-to cocktail of the cocktail bartenders (I hated it at the time since I hate fad drinks and foods) and this gave it a resurgence in popularity amongst drinkers and it has maintained its place on cocktail menus around the US ever since.
INGREDIENTS: Gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari.
METHOD: In a mixing glass put one ounce (30 ml) each of gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari then add ice and stir (you NEVER shake a Negroni) for 5-7 seconds then pour over fresh ice and garnish with a large orange peel.
POSSIBLE VARIATIONS: Instead of gin try mezcal if you like a smokey flavor or dark rum and each sweet vermouth have its flavor profiles and they generally aren’t expensive so try to experiment. Lastly, the measurements can be altered to taste but stick to the 1:1:1 ratio the first time out of the gate, so you have a basis to gauge what you want to do.
RECOMMENDED SPIRIT BRANDS: Beefeater 24 gin and Monkey 47 gin (both are very spice forward and not only hold their own but add another layer of complexity). For sweet vermouth I prefer Coochi vermouth (their Barolo Chinato variant is the Rolls Royce of vermouths – I’d make love to it if I could) and Dolin Rouge Vermouth which is on the dryer side.
Pisco Sour: Why I love it
A classic Pisco Sour is an egg white-based drink and the viscosity of the cocktail gives it a velvety texture that’s like drinking liquid silk. The flavors aren’t complex, but it blends perfectly to create a fantastically balanced cocktail. Pisco has subtle notes of green apple and grapes and they come through giving it a lovely after taste.
INGREDIENTS: Pisco (Pisco is a type of brandy in which it’s distilled from wine or fruit juice but its flavor is worlds apart from your classic brandy or cognac), lime juice, sugar syrup, and egg white and Angostura Bitters.
METHODS: Pour 2 ounces (60 ml) into a cocktail shaker, then one ounce (30ml) of sugar syrup, fresh lime juice, and egg white (about 1 egg). Close the shaker (no ice yet) and shake it as if your life depends on it (your taste buds will thank you for the effort). After around 45-60 seconds open the shaker and add the ice and then shake vigorously again for another 30 seconds (if you don’t look like a horrible dancer making a weird face you’re not doing right) then pour into a coupe glass or a martini glass then put a couple of drops of Angostura bitters for fragrance on top. It should have a lovely frothy top (like a cappuccino).
POSSIBLE VARIATIONS: While making your sugar syrup (3:1 sugar to water) add some flavors like citrus zest and even cinnamon. You can even combine both to make a syrup called gum syrup and you will have an amazing cocktail that you will want to make it in a blender and drink it directly with a straw.
Also, a popular substitute is Bourbon (I love this variant, especially with a rye bourbon or scotch). This switch will make a much bolder drink.
A little lavender would also work. Look for a lavender based liqueur that would substitute your sugar syrup.
Hemingway Daiquiri: Why I love it
This cocktail’s origin story is both amazing and hilarious. Its namesake, Ernest Hemingway had cirrhosis of the liver and was supposed to stop drinking but instead decided to just cut his sugar intake so with the help of his local bartender they came up with a variation of his favorite cocktail (he refused to give up drinking so I have to respect his stubbornness and passion for booze but the irony shouldn’t be lost). The story now gets murky of where this happened because half the bar community will swear it was in Havana and the other says it was in Key West. Both have valid arguments and reasoning but as far as I know, there’s no definitive proof of the where, but the rest of the story isn’t up for debate. The drink adds Luxardo Maraschino liqueur instead of sugar and some grapefruit juice because it’s a touch sweeter than lime juice. These little changes transform the entire cocktail into a complexly layered drink with a variety of flavors, aromas, and a beautiful color that reminds me of the beginning of sunset in Key West. Luxardo Maraschino liqueur has a sour/sweet herbal flavor that elevates this classic into one of the best libations ever made.
INGREDIENTS: Rum, Luxardo Maraschino liqueur, lime juice, and grapefruit juice. Lime wheel for garnish.
METHOD: Pour 2 oz (60 ml) of rum into your cocktail shaker then add 3⁄4 oz (20ml) of both lime and grapefruit juice then 1⁄4 oz (15ml) of Luxardo Maraschino liqueur into shaker then add ice, shake for 10 seconds and pour into a coupe or martini glass and squeeze a piece of grapefruit peel to release the oils on top of the drink to give it an amazing fragrant aroma.
POSSIBLE VARIATIONS: None, nada!!! Leave it the hell alone, it’s perfect and shouldn’t be touched… would you touch up a Picasso?
Please note that these recipes may differ from what other bartenders are used to or what you may have seen online. These are the measurements that I use and teach when training staff. I base my recipes on the drink’s original measurements and those are also up for debate depending on who, when, and where you were trained as a bartender.
Please drink responsibly and stay safe. Enjoy!!!
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