Foodie Magazine, April 2000
20 years as bartender at legendary
New York restaurants like the Rainbow Rom and Windows on the
World, Dale DeGroff has helped
to resurrect the
elevating it to a lofty status usually reserved for fine wines
and earning himself the nickname, King of Cocktails.
When hes not behind the bar, DeGroff acts as a beverage
consultant, judges competitions and trains bartenders around
the world.Foodie recently sat down with the master mixologist,
who is writing a book on American cocktails and can be found
stirring it up on his website, Kingcocktail.com.
What is the first drink
you ever created?
The Ritz Cocktail, based on a champagne drink served in the Ritz
Hotels throughout Europe. I was bartending at Aurora, a very
high-end restaurant on 49th Street, and wanted to create the
Ritz of New York. I chilled Cointreau with lemon juice, a dash
of Maraschino Liqueur and cognac , poured the mixture into a
martini glass and finished it with champagne and a flaming orange
peel, which later became a signature of mine. It was written
up in Playboy Magazine.
Is the old-school barman
a dying breed?
Not at all. For the first time, young people in the hospitality
industry are actually choosing the bar as a profession. Bartenders
are no different than chefs in that they have to know the classic
recipes and understand their tools and ingredients, and how to
use them. Whats been working against that all these years
are the bartending schools which use colored water because they
don't have liquor licenses. how can you learn to mix drinks if
you can't taste them?
What makes a great cocktail?
When you can't identify the individual drink components. You
have notes of sweet, sour and dry, and they're all in harmony
as if you're creating a new flavor. Take 3 or 4 ingredients,
amalgamate them and they disappear into one another to create
a new and wonderful taste- to me that's the perfect cocktail.
If you could toss back
a few with anyone in history?
Mark Twain would come closest to the perfect drinking companion
that I can imagine. Not just for his stories and wit, but because
he would sit there with you-he was a regular kind of guy.
Revisiting the classic recipes, group drinks, sophisticated looking
garnishes, a return to some kitschiness with tropical drinks.
Expanding the repertoire with new and classic thrown together