Long Island Pulse: When did you start bartending?
Jay Ozdemir: I started working here five years ago. All the woodwork, the bar—my father built it all. He’s in construction and he has been friends with Spiro [Karachopan, owner and chef ] for about 10 years. I started here behind the register; I would do some expediting, some paperwork. Then one day Spiro said, “Get behind the bar, start learning how to make drinks and have some fun.” I fell in love with it.
Pulse: Sounds like a great boss.
JO: It’s more of father-son relationship than boss- employee. When I come in for a shift the first thing he will ask is, “Have you eaten yet?” Anything I want to learn or buy to make the bar more serious, like getting a new ice machine, he’s okay with it. He sent us to Las Vegas recently and we took classes and learned a lot. It gives us an advantage over the restaurants down the street. Spiro always says, “Don’t be scared to try something new.” That’s why our cocktail menu is huge—we have over 50 martinis, 30 specialty drinks and we are always adding more, constantly experimenting and playing with new flavors.
Pulse: Wow, 50 martinis?
JO: Yeah. We have a lot. Our biscotti martini and rice pudding martini won a Yelp [LI Classic Cocktail] contest earlier this year. We try very hard to match not only the flavors but also the texture of the drink to the inspiration—the biscotti martini is garnished with biscotti so you can taste the similarity side-by-side.
Pulse: What’s your signature cocktail?
JO: My most popular drink is called the Chocogasm. It’s a sexy frozen drink and it tastes just like an adult milkshake. It will make you, you know, orgasm in your mouth from all the chocolate. [Laughs.]
Pulse: What’s in it?
JO: Pinnacle Whipped Cream vodka, Godiva Liqueur, Marie Brizard Chocolat Royal, RumChata, Baileys Irish Cream, dark crème de cacao and vanilla ice cream. I rim the martini glass with Oreos and decorate with chocolate syrup, then blend the ingredients with ice and pour the drink, adding lots of whipped cream on top with chocolate syrup and chocolate shavings and finish it up with Hershey’s Kisses. It’s fun to make for people because they like to take pictures of it. The cameras always come out.