This is Behind the Bar(tender), a series in which local bartenders share things like the weirdest drink request they’ve ever gotten and the last movie they watched as they make us one of their signature cocktails. This month features Bobby Gulinello, owner of The Cortland in Bay Shore.
What’s the best thing you ever drank?
I lived in Mexico for awhile and it would have to be the first michelada I ever had. It’s like a Beer Bloody Mary. I had it in a tiny town, on the outskirts of Cancun, in this little hole in the wall place that no one would ever even know about.
The worst thing you ever drank?
Any time I’ve ever had something that curdles is the worst…like a Cement Mixer. There are just some things that cream is not meant to go with no matter how hard you try.
What was the first cocktail you ever made?
A Strawberry Chocolate Martini. It was layered with Stoli raspberry, Godiva cocoa and Baileys on the bottom. Then I rimmed the glass with chocolate shavings and a strawberry. I remember thinking, “This is it—this is my claim to fame.” [Laughs.]
If you could be any local craft beer, which one would you be?
I would be a Mustache Diver Down Cream Ale. It’s such a great craft beer. It’s an entry-level craft beer and a good option for people who are already into craft because it’s a session-type beer.
What’s the weirdest cocktail you ever made?
I made a drink with truffle oil one time. We were doing truffle fries and I had a bunch of bar geeks with me in the bar at the time and we were like, “Let’s do this.” I can’t recollect how it came out at the time, but I think it was good…
What’s your most requested cocktail at The Cortland?
Our Butternut Squash Cocktail. We’ve been serving it since we opened seven years ago. It’s a butternut squash, cinnamon and vanilla bean infused vodka that we mix with apple cider and then garnish with fresh cinnamon.
What are you making for us today?
A seasonal drink called The Revenant. The alcohol base is Bulleit Bourbon. Then we add our house made pistachio and vanilla syrups, a little bit of cream and some Sail Away Cold Brew Coffee. Then we top it off with seltzer water and pistachio shavings.
1 ½ oz Bulleit Bourbon
1 ½ oz cream
¾ oz house made pistachio syrup
¼ oz house made vanilla syrup
1 ½ oz Sail Away Cold Brew Coffee
Mix bourbon, cream, pistachio syrup, vanilla syrup and Sail Away cold brew in a cocktail shaker. Shake and strain into Collins glass over ice. Top with seltzer and garnish with grated pistachios.
How would you describe it?
It’s our take on a White Russian. It has notes of pistachio and vanilla, and it’s got that nice nitro coffee bite to it.
What was the inspiration behind it?
Every season, we change our cocktails and base our new menu on an actor or a band. This season, it’s Leonardo DiCaprio. Our entire cocktail menu is full of drinks like the Titanic, Wolf of Wall Street, The Beach, The Revenent and so forth. It’s fun for the staff.
If you could have a drink with anyone in your bar, who would it be?
It would be my Dad. He almost died a year ago, but he’s fine now. So, every time I can hang out with him, I enjoy it for what it is.
Do you have a drink named after yourself?
We did have one named after me! The “What About Bob?” Well, it was kind of about me. We used this awesome Bourbon, Uncle Bob’s Rootbeer Bourbon, fresh squeezed lime juice and Diver Down Cream Ale. It was served as a Beer Cocktail and it was phenomenal!
What’s your least favorite drink to make?
Long Island Ice Teas. I can’t stand making them. I have a lot of pride about where I come from and I love Long Island. We have all of this cool stuff here—beaches, vineyards, breweries, farms— and this one drink reflects none of it, yet it’s synonymous with Long Island.
What was the last song you listened to?
“Odd Look” by Kavinsky and The Weeknd.
Last text message you sent?
[It was] to the South Shore Dive to get the recipe for this drink.
What’s your favorite thing to do you do when you’re not here or at the South Shore Dive?
Spending time with my son. It’s the truth.