George Sante of Mosaic, St. James

Long Island Pulse: When did you start bartending at Mosaic?
George Sante:
2010. I worked [with owners and chefs Tate Morris and Jonathan Contes] at Mirabelle Tavern and we became friends. Jon is half-Greek like me and before I started here they had a cocktail with ouzo and orange soda—his grandmother’s favorite combo. They called it The Yaya. Around the same time I discovered WD~50 and El Bulli and that spurred my interest with flavors. I offered to make a full cocktail list and it went from there.

Pulse: You’re also a DJ and you study interior design. Do those interests influence your work behind the bar?
GS:
Definitely. As a DJ you’re bringing together various elements to make one cohesive thing. With design, it’s all about having a problem and learning how to solve it. Bartending is like that. I crave that challenge.

Pulse: Tell us about some fall cocktails.
GS:
I’m most proud of Bachman-Turner Overdrive. It’s with a pretzel-infused bourbon. We infused thin pretzels in Evan Williams, a Kentucky bourbon, for two weeks, but it didn’t produce the flavor I wanted. We added a bag of Unique Splits, which are darker and taste almost burnt. That worked perfectly. The pretzel softens the bourbon.

Pulse: What else is in the Bachman-Turner Overdrive?
GS:
I made orange bitters and then honey syrup to add some sweetness. Then smoked sea salt on the rim that we made ourselves. I have a ton of freedom to experiment because of our philosophy here.

Pulse: What is your philosophy?
GS:
Our name refers to bringing the cuisines of different countries together and the cocktail list reflects that. We tend to have Asian flavors in our dishes, so I’ve thrown wasabi, ginger and green tea into a standard gimlet. For this fall, we’ll also have a Greek drink with honey, Baklavodka, and Juanito Manzanaseed, “Johnny Appleseed” in Spanish. It’s Saigon cinnamon-infused mezcal, apple brandy, apple cider, brown sugar syrup and walnut bitters. It’s like smoky apple pie.