Long Island Pulse: Which restaurants operate under Bohlsen Group?
Paulo Villela: We have seven on Long Island: Harbor Club at Prime, Prime, Tellers Chophouse, Verace, H2O, Monsoon and Beachtree.
Pulse: How do you design each cocktail menu?
PV: Seasonally and by the type of cuisine. We also have some popular cocktails for each that have remained and we showcase those at multiple restaurants.
Pulse: What’s an example?
PV: One that started at Monsoon is Babylon Express: Crop cucumber vodka, St. Germain, pineapple juice and fresh lime. You have a little sweetness, nice cucumber flavor and some acidity, which works well with the Asian cuisine. The goal with this drink was to get people’s attention commuting home from the City, as I did for many years working at Windows on the World.
Pulse: You were their sommelier, correct?
PV: Yes. I’ve loved wine for many years. I grew up on a farm and our neighbors were Italian immigrants. They’d give me homemade wine as long as I brought my own bottle. [Laughs]
Pulse: Do you incorporate wine into cocktails?
PV: Definitely. Prime has a drink during the winter called the Sleigh Ride that is Figenza fig-flavored vodka, Palmer Vineyards sparkling wine and fresh cranberry juice served in a Champagne flute with a cinnamon sugar rim. There’s good carbonation to it. I’m also experimenting with an ice wine martini with my head bartender at Tellers, Josh Taylor.
Pulse: What is ice wine?
PV: The grapes are naturally frozen on the vine and hand-harvested at really low temperatures. When the frozen grapes are pressed, you only get a few drops of concentrated juice. It’s a delicately balanced, aromatic wine. Very time-consuming and very risky. An art.
Pulse: What else is in the martini?
PV: The ice wine is a Mission Hill riesling from Canada. It’s with blood orange juice and Prosecco and Josh decided to add just a touch of Aperol, as it’s very strong. It’s pinkish-orange in color and is also served in a Champagne flute.
Pulse: You mentioned growing up on a farm. Where?
PV: Southern Brazil. The farm was several hours from our house and my father grew his own sugarcane. We would make cachaça and also limoncello. My father actually still makes it, but a very small amount that sells out quickly. That’s how I developed my love for beverages early on. I’ve used both of his recipes here— we have a cosmo at Verace using his limoncello recipe.