Joaquin Simo


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Joaquin Simo - Death & Co

WHAT WAS THE FIRST BAR YOU EVER WORKED IN?
The White Horse Tavern. No, not the Dylan Thomas one here in NYC, but a really busy neighborhood bar in the student ghetto of Allston, MA. I was a regular there for a few years before taking them up on a long-standing offer of employment. I started at the door, moved to barback, and eventually bartending.

WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON RIGHT NOW? WHAT’S NEW & EXCITING IN THE DRINKS WORLD OF JOAQUIN?
Currently obsessed with low-ABV cocktails, in which the fortified wine is the base and a small amount of strong spirit is added as a flavor-boosting modifier. Most people are still mystified by sherries and vermouths, so this is a great way to introduce them to a wonderful array of liquids that are all-too-frequently ignored or misunderstood.

WHO ARE 3 PEOPLE THAT HAVE INFLUENCED & INSPIRED YOU ALONG THE WAY?
Sean Gavin was the first bartender I was ever a regular of, at the White Horse Tavern I mentioned above.  A masterful host who knows what’s going on at all times whenever he’s behind the stick. His bars are genial masterpieces of comfort and reprieve. There’s always a smile to greet you and your drink is waiting for you at the bar as you reach it. A bartender in the truest sense of the word.

Tony Conigliaro’s seemingly limitless imagination and deft wit confound my expectations every time I hear him talk or taste his drinks. All the explanations of roto-vap this and hydrosol that go poof! when you’re confronted with a cheekily-tweaked classic that grabs your sense memory by the lapels. A hay-scented apple core on a Calvados cocktail that plunges you back onto an autumnal wagon-ride on scratchy bales under the stars. Helluva trick for a garnish and the drink is just as delightful.

Alex Day continues to blow me out of the water. Even though he left Death & Co to move to LA nearly a year ago, I continue to refer back to his efficiency and fluidity behind the bar during each shift I work there. That little ninja has one of the greatest palates I’ve worked with and his OCD tendencies made him a dream during setup and cleanup. All that, and he’s tons of actual fun to be back there with, especially when he’s being a bitchy lil’ queen. My favorite coworker ever.

WHAT DO YOU DRINK WHEN . . . .
Before dinner: Campari on the rocks, orange twist.
You finish work: The coldest can of beer I can find in the lowboy and perhaps a wee shot of something brown.
On a lazy Sunday afternoon: Palo Cortado sherry.
When you’re contemplative: An Old Fashioned, made with whatever I have at hand.
When you can’t be bothered deciding: Pink bubbly, the drier the better.
When the sun is beating down: A Daiquiri.
When you’re lighting the fire: Cold, crisp Kolsch-style pils.
When you have to answer silly interview questions: Mezcal.  Lots & lots of mezcal.

WHAT’S YOUR ‘GO-TO’:
Aperitif: Negroni: equal parts with Antica and big honking London dry gin.
Digestif: Nardini Amaro.
Beer: Hitachino White.
Shot: Yes please!
Mixed drink: If stirred, an Old fashioned.  If shaken, a Daiquiri.
Guilty pleasure: Vanilla vodka & ginger ale. It tastes exactly like cream soda.

WHAT WAS THE LAST AMAZING COCKTAIL THAT BLEW YOUR MIND? WHO WAS THE GUILTY BARTENDER?
Once again, Tony C is gonna take the cake on this one. Colloidal silver added to a martini variation makes it shimmer ethereally in 69 Colebrooke’s dark bar while leather essence wafts up sensually from the coaster it sits on. The perfect marriage of restraint and gilding the lily, of pushing the envelope while staying true to the classic. Of course he named it after a Rolls Royce.

NAME 3 OF YOUR FAVOURITE BARS ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD AND WHY?
Milk & Honey, NYC
Still one of the greatest experiences in cocktails. The hospitality is inimitable, the drinks are icy perfection and the room still oozes sexy exclusivity. The Sammy & Mickey show is also one of the most entertaining (& delicious) ways to spend an evening I can think of.

The Bar at the Connaught Hotel, London
Watching Ago Perrone work is such a gloriously ego-deflating experience. How too can I be so effortlessly elegant? His movements are so stylized, yet never needlessly showy or unnecessary. Of course, all this showmanship would be for naught if the drinks weren’t so damn tasty. Plus, the room sets the standard for hotel bar decadence. The pressed linen coasters? Check. Giant silver bucket sitting mid-bar stocked with iced champagne? Check. If you walk into this bar and don’t feel like celebrating, you need to seriously re-evaluate your priorities in life.

Mayahuel, NYC
Phil Ward’s agave emporium is a testament to the variety that can be achieved even through the narrow focus of a single family of distillates. A dizzying array of tequilas and mezcals are available in flights, but so is a mind-blowing variety of sherry and beer-based cocktails featuring agave, not to mention punches for groups or individuals. It’s a no-bullshit spot that offers spectacular food and drinks without getting overcrowded or self-important. They also make a mean Michelada.

YOUR HOUSE IS BURNING DOWN. WHAT’S THE ONE BOTTLE YOU GRAB? WHO DO YOU SHARE IT WITH?
Alexandre Gabriel and his wonderful family gave my wife and I a bottle of incredibly old Pierre Ferrand 1st Cru cognac from Grande Champagne in a limited bottling (1 of 1) inscribed for our wedding. I’ll give you one guess who I’d be sharing that one with.

WHAT DOES YOUR LOCAL BAR INDUSTRY NEED MORE OF?
More bars and restaurants that aren’t trying to be cocktail bars, but that can execute basic sours and classic cocktails with a minimum of pomp and circumstance. Just make me a stirred Negroni and lemme see you cut open a lemon for a Collins and I’ll be happy. Every place doesn’t have to re-invent the wheel or be a temple of mixology in order to make capable versions of three-ingredient drinks that have been made for 200 years. Just a teensy bit of effort goes a long way.

AND LESS OF?
Goofy facial hair and arrogance. It’s simple: we work in customer service and our role under that umbrella is bartender. We are not bartenders who have customer service as a facet of our jobs that we can ignore or provide as we see fit, simply because we have a handlebar mustache and can pick out Hugo Ensslin in a lineup. Mixologists serve drinks, bartenders serve people.  What would you rather be?

WHAT IS YOUR ULTIMATE FANTASY DRINKING HOLIDAY DESTINATION (that you’ve yet to go on)?
That would be a drinking tour through France. From Bordeaux to Champagne, Burgundy to Normandy, I would love to drink the products of particular places while standing in them.  Terroir was invented there and I want to have that sense memory of each place of origin to refer back to every time I sip a glass of wine or brandy. It’s a huge hole in my drinking experiences and I am anxious to fill it with copious amount of rosé champagne and armagnac consumed in breathtaking vistas.

IN WHAT BAR DO YOU FEEL MOST AT HOME AND WHY?
Clover Club in Brooklyn. It could have something to do with the fact that I live about a seven-minute stagger from there, but I feel like Julie really nailed the details on this place.  The back bar is gloriously ornate, the stools are wide and generously padded. You could sit there for hours by yourself and not get bored. The food is straightforward and delicious, and the bartenders are only too happy to pour you a shorty of draft stout to pair with your oysters.  The fact that I can get a pitch-perfect Blood & Sand at brunch doesn’t hurt either.



 

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