Long Island Pulse: Why are you a bartender?
David Chiarella: I graduated college and went through the motions to be a teacher, but I wasn’t in love with it. I was subbing and making nothing, and getting that phone call at 6am… It wasn’t me. I became inspired to step up my game with cocktails, though. I’ve been bartending for 16 years. My apartment is full of books—there’s always something to learn.
LIP: What’s something you recently picked up?
DC: I took a special program on ice in the city. At first I thought it was silly, but it really elevates your cocktail. We serve bigger cubes from special molds, so the drink stays colder longer and dilutes less. It looks damn sexy, too.
LIP: I say, “Gimme your best drink.” Go.
DC: The Adalyn. It’s named after my best friend’s daughter. I came up with the recipe for a contest for Bombay Sapphire when she had just been born. It’s made with gin, muddled cucumber, agave nectar and lemon juice, served over one cube with a sprig of fresh rosemary. Everything works well together and it’s easy to make. Some of my friends have actually used it on their cocktail lists too, which is a great compliment.
LIP: Are a lot of your friends bartenders?
DC: [Laughs] My friends and I actually have a little tasting group and we get together every Tuesday to try different craft spirits. We’ll even have a theme. We’ll all bring, say, different vermouths and compare them. We’ll sip them straight, but then we’ll make Manhattans. We just had a bunch of brandys, too. We made sidecars. A lot of smaller distilleries are popping up now, especially in New York. I’m always looking for different craft spirits to bring into the restaurant.
LIP: What else should a bartender do?
DC: Never bring your personal sh*t behind the bar. I actually try to meditate before my shift, just to get in that zone. Also, challenge yourself. I’ve been experimenting with tea infusions and I use loose tea, not tea bags. I’ve infused cachaça, a Brazilian spirit made from sugarcane, with green tea and gin with Earl Grey. It’s a cold
drink but we serve it in a teacup, and the cachaça in a mason jar, just because it looks cooler.
LIP: You’re stranded on an island with only one cocktail. It’s…
DC: The Vieux Carré, from New Orleans. It’s like a mix between a Manhattan and a Sazerac. It’s equal parts rye whiskey, cognac and sweet vermouth, two dashes of both Angostora bitters and Peychaud’s bitters and then a little touch of Benedictine. So smooth. It’s almost like drinking velvet.
Thirsty? Visit David Chiarella at PeraBell Food Bar in Patchogue Village.
words: Niko Krommydas | photo: Kenny Janosick