Behind the Bar at Verde Kitchen & Cocktails

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 Ian Soukup, head bartender of Verde Kitchen & Cocktails in Bay Shore.

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What’s the best thing you ever drank?
My first pint of Guinness in Dublin, Ireland. Something about being surrounded by the culture made it a memorable experience.

The worst thing you ever drank?
Plenty of things, but the first that comes to mind was this warm vodka shot with hot sauce and raspberry preserves. The flavors weren’t terrible, but the texture and temperature did not let it go down easy.

What was the first cocktail you ever made?
It’s hard to think back that far, but I can assure you it had blue curacao in it.

If you could be any drink, what would you be?
Del Maguey Mezcal Vida. It’s a really nice spirit to introduce someone to mezcals who might be turned off by other heavy smoke varieties.

What’s the weirdest drink you ever made?
We worked on a frozen Avocado Margarita at one point. It was surprisingly good, but there were just issues with complexity and speed that made it too difficult to pull off on a busy shift.

What’s your most requested cocktail here?
Margaritas. We have multiple varieties, but the most requested is either our all natural or spicy pepper with house infused pepper tequila. We fresh squeeze fruit every day to keep up with the high demand.

What are you making for us today?
Our Mezcal Negroni. We wanted to do a variation on a classic cocktail while keeping with the agave spirit theme of the cocktail list.

Mezcal Negroni 

1oz Botanical Infused Ilegal Joven
1oz Campari
1oz Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
Orange zest for garnish

Stir all ingredients over ice until chilled.
Strain over fresh ice (large cubes are best).
Flame orange zest over cocktail and serve.

What was the inspiration for this drink?
We had a botanical infused mezcal behind our bar that reminded me of a floral gin. We decided that we can infuse our own with a heavier juniper flavor to stand up to the bitterness that Campari is known for.

How would you describe it?
Smokey with a bittersweet floral note. The smoke and bittersweet linger on the palette with notes of vanilla.

If you could have a drink with anyone in your bar, who would it be?
Anthony Bourdain would have to be high on that list. I like his approach on food and drinks within a culture and how he goes for full immersion. He also understands the service industry and seems like someone you can talk shop with for a few hours.

What was the last movie you watched?
Spotlight.

What was the last song you listed to?
I think it was Dr. Dre “Let Me Ride.” I like something relaxing while cleaning up the bar at night.

Last text message you sent?
To Anthony (Tartaglia, owner of Verde and Coastal) about new cocktails for Coastal Kitchen and Daiquiri we are working on.

What’s in your pockets right now?
Wallet, keys, wine key and my phone.

What’s your least favorite drink to make?
Long Island iced tea. It’s one of those drinks that people drink to get a quick buzz, but it’s loaded with terrible quality alcohol and artificial sugar. It’s like serving someone a glass of hangover and regret.

What’s your favorite thing to do you do when you’re not here?
Either going on a walk with my wife and son or being in NYC looking for new ingredients and inspiration for new cocktails.

denine anderson-regan

Denine co-writes the award-winning blog, We Know Stuff, with her sister, Daniele. Visit them, weknowstuff.us.com, for tasty recipes, fun kids crafts, and family-focused lifestyle articles. Twitter @WeKnowStuff_US.