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

niko krommydas

Niko Krommydas has written for Tasting Table, BeerAdvocate, Munchies, and First We Feast. He is editor of Craft Beer New York, an app for the iPhone, and a columnist for Yankee Brew News. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.