3 South Florida Chefs Share Their Tips For Concocting Delicious Cocktails

Apr 2017 Also on Digital Edition

What do you get when you take a chef out of the kitchen and place him or her behind the bar? Innovative cocktail recipes. These three South Florida culinary masters used their talents for creating dishes to influence their respective restaurants’ beverage menus.

Lindsay Autry, 34

Chef Partner at The Regional Kitchen & Public House, West Palm Beach

Tell me about how you started your career as a chef.

I grew up surrounded by food. My family had a peach orchard where we spent our summers selling peaches and homemade ice cream at a roadside stand. I started participating in cooking competitions through 4-H when I was a child and really fell in love with cooking. While attending Johnson & Wales University in Charleston and Miami, I worked in a variety of restaurants and hotels to gain experience.

What’s an early memory you have of crafting a cocktail?

I lived in Mexico for four years and was inspired by all of the fresh fruit and flavored waters that are predominant there. When I moved back to the U.S. and took an executive chef position at a new restaurant, we created a fun cocktail menu based on those inspirations using tamarind, dried flowers and other infusions.

How is making a cocktail similar to cooking a dinner?

For us, just as much attention to the ingredients and balance that go into creating our dinner menu applies to the creation of our cocktails. You have to adjust the flavor of a cocktail, just like you would a sauce as the ingredients change as in cooking.

Favorite garnish?

Simple, a good pickle/olive or appropriate citrus.

Favorite technique or presentation?

I like the comeback of communal drinks such as pretty punches and table drinks.

What is your favorite drink on The Regional’s menu?

Right now, my favorite drink is our Sweetwater, which is a daiquiri made with Florida strawberries. I think it’s great on its own or paired with many of our small plates like the pickled shrimp or fried chicken.

Brooke Mallory, 28

Sous Chef at 3030 Ocean, Fort Lauderdale

Tell me about how you started your career as a chef.

As a summer job I started cooking in a restaurant when I was 14 and went back each summer to work there during high school. When I graduated, I had two options: go to culinary school or try to play softball in college. I ended up taking a year off to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. My parents finally said, “Brooke, you need to go to culinary school,” so I did.

In the kitchen, what is your favorite dish to cook?

I love cooking anything with fresh pasta—from start to finish I put my heart and soul into it. From making the dough and rolling out the pasta by hand to putting the final touches on the dish and watching the reactions of the guests who are eating it.

Tell me an early memory you have of crafting a cocktail.

I remember I was working in Cleveland and we had some fresh apricots about to go bad in our walk-in. I made syrup with them and added a lot of different spices. It tasted good so I asked one of the bartenders what we could do with it. We came up with four different cocktails and I had my own little section on the menu for them.

How is making a cocktail similar to cooking a dinner?

I think it’s similar because each ingredient you put in a cocktail has a purpose, just like when making dinner. When you’re cooking, you taste the dish and think it needs something more—like a spice, pepper or salt. With cocktails, it’s the same thing. If the drink is all one note and bland, you try adding more acid or you can add bitters to try and elevate the flavor.

What’s your favorite liquor base?

Whiskey, hands down.

Giorgio Rapicavoli, 31

Chef Partner at Glass & Vine, Miami

Tell me about how you started your career as a chef.

I grew up in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother, and always knew I wanted I cook. I started cooking professionally when I was 17.

In the kitchen, what is your favorite dish to cook?

I really love working with vegetables and enjoy making fresh pasta.

How is making a cocktail similar to cooking a dinner?

It’s all about combining ingredients and creating a balance with their flavors.

What makes a cocktail a success?

When guests crave a drink and come back and remember the drink by name.

How have you influenced your restaurant’s beverage menu?

I actually created it.

What’s your favorite liquor base?

Carpano Vermouth Formula Antica.

Favorite garnish?

Fresh citrus.

Favorite technique or presentation?

I like making a salt-water solution to drop into cocktails to bring back the natural salinity.

What is your favorite drink on Glass & Vine’s menu?

The Magic Schoolbus. It’s a take on a classic Brazilian drink, and we add local passion fruit and sea salt. The drink goes with a lot of dishes because the acidity complements the menu well.

Any cocktail crafting tips?

Remember it’s always about balance. It’s important to always use acidic ingredients to mellow out the sweetness in drinks, and a little salt always helps bring the flavors out.

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