David Marzano

David Marzano is a geek for mixology. He creates bitters and dabbles with barrel aging, believing “a good cocktail should tell a story.”

How do you construct a cocktail menu?
Balance. You should have something for every drinker. A pomegranate cosmopolitan may seem mundane, but not if you make it with love. It’s a great cocktail and always one of our mainstays. I also like to have a throwback, so you’ll always see a sazerac. I rinse the glass with absinthe and use Peychaud’s Bitters and we’re back in New Orleans in the 1870s. It tells a story.

Your favorite spirit is…
Gin. It’s so malleable. The juniper and pine notes lend themselves to a whole galaxy of flavors. I love something seductive and velvety, like a well-stirred martini with dry vermouth. I’ll also add a caperberry, which adds some brine and salinity. 

A mixologist should…
Always be learning. It can be almost overwhelming, but it’ll help you evolve. I started hopping behind the bar while I was waiting tables, learning how to make a Bloody Mary and other simple things like that. That’s how I started to be a geek for mixology and—

Wait. A geek for mixology?
Well, I make my own bitters. I did pineapple bitters, which was basically a recipe for Angostura, but I added pineapple and used it in a [variation] of a mint julep. I also did serrano bitters. I took the pith and the seeds to accent the spice and bitter aspect of the peppers. And I let that infuse into the spirit with aromatic spices to round out the flavors.

I enter Pentimento and say, “Gimme your best.” Go.
The West Village. It’s essentially a manhattan with rye whiskey, but I use Carpano Antica, a sweet vermouth from northern Italy. I love Carpano. You get this bubble gum aroma from it, so when you pair it with a spicy rye whiskey, you get a beautiful balance. Then you add Fernet-Branca bitters, which gives you some menthol and pine, just to rinse the glass.

Thirsty? Visit David Marzano at Pentimento Thursday-Monday.

words: Niko Krommydas | photo: Kenny Janosick