Recently, during the Kapalua Wine festivities, I caught up with Oahu bartender and master mixologist Joey Gottsman poolside at the Ritz at the Better Brands Liquid Luxury Event. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation…
Jen Russo: What’s inspiring you in the realm of cocktails at the moment?
Joey Gottesman: I’m inspired by the “cocktail culture” resurgence here in our state, the guests that enjoy having a well-engineered drink and the bartenders that are willing to perpetuate fine cocktail
principles and fresh bar concepts.
JR: I’m noticing a big comeback and trend with bitters and herbs, but I haven’t seen it break through to most bars. Is the gift of mixology lost at the neighborhood pub level?
JG: For the most part the neighborhood pub is a place to get your Jack and Coke, your Sapphire and Tonic and a nice cold beer with a smile. However, they can, and often do, have inspired bartenders that are honing their mixology skills. These little gems are where you’ll find cocktails that are created with hard-to-find bitters, exotic seasonal fruits, herbs and spices that the bartenders are sourcing themselves and on their own time.
JR: There are a few gems on Maui, like Ambrosia in Kihei, that keep the ingredients and take the time to craft something for you. But honestly I was at a club where all they do is cocktails and dancing and I couldn’t get a simple martini. Tell me about a few of the cocktails you designed and featured here at Liquid Luxury?
JG: The French 75 is Bombay Sapphire, fresh lemon juice, Waiwera water, Taittinger Prestige Cuvee and simple syrup. The lemongrass and rose essenced sparkling Bombay Sapphire gimlet is Alize Rose and Bombay Sapphire flash infused with fresh lemon grass, served on the rocks with fresh pressed lime and capped with waiwera sparkling.
JR: Wow. I want to sit at your bar more often. Name a few of your favorite wines.
JG: Bombay Sapphire, Corzo Tequila Anejo, Gentleman Jack and Highland Park 18 year…oops! Did you say wine? I’m enjoying a rose’ phase right now. Next week, merlot perhaps. I tend to be very situational with my wines, but I will never turn down a well-engineered and properly made cocktail.