The winner was Laurel Adams from Crown Heights’ beloved Barboncino, who—besides joining our Collective in order to learn from and network with other members of the food and drink community—eagerly embraces any and all opportunities to throw down behind the bar.
Longing to get behind the stick (fun slang for bartending!) ever since she was a shy 17-year-old living in her sister’s Park Slope basement, Barboncino finally afforded Adams the chance to develop and hone her skills. And her passion for the spirit world has only grown since then, not to mention her confidence, enabling her to emerge victorious with her creative play on a crowd-pleasing French 75.
So how do you raise the stakes on a classic combo of gin, lemon, sugar and Champagne?
“My current obsession is infused cocktails,” Adams says. “I came across infusions because I love Earl Grey tea and wanted that flavor in a cocktail without diluting it with water. So I threw the tea into some vodka and it worked, like really quickly. It was a great moment, and in this cocktail I sort of ran with that discovery, incorporating hibiscus and lavender as well.”
“Especially when you are trying to make drinks quickly, you can pack so much flavor into just a few ingredients if you take a little time to prep and infuse beforehand,” she continues, about the value-add of infusions. “I also thought it would be a great opportunity to show people at home how simple and doable it is to create this themselves!”
And while she admits she gets “bartender guilt” while out on the town (defaulting to easy-to-execute orders like prosecco), Adams insists bubbles are a great way to achieve maximum splash with minimum effort. “Add a float of sparkling red wine like Lambrusco to the top of any drink. Not only does it add flavor, it looks beautiful.”
That said, Adams’ top tip is somewhat less tangible, being that she thinks the final ingredient in any cocktail should be a little bit of love.
“My co-bartender and I had a great time at Food Loves Tech’s Future of the Cocktail event (where she was able to show off her celebrated libation), and the best review we got was that we were the friendliest people there,” Adams enthuses. “That felt amazing. Basically, I love what I’m doing and I think it shows.”
Makes 1 drink
1 ounce hibiscus-infused gin (I used Greenhook)
½ ounce fresh lemon juice
½ ounce lavender agave syrup
Your choice of bubbly
Shake lightly and strain into a Champagne flute, then top with bubbles.