Doug Brickel, bartender and beverage director at Cork & Kerry, is ready to mix his best drink as one of three finalists in Pulse‘s first annual Cocktail Rumble. Sponsored by Ravo Vodka, Cocktail Rumble is taking place during Island Tasting at the Mansion at Oyster Bay on Nov. 9 to benefit Island Harvest. Brickel will face off against Thomas Crawford of The Brixton and Dave Ebbert of Copperhill.
“It is an honor [to be nominated],” Brickel said. “The fact that people came out in numbers to support myself and my business is flattering.”
Brickel has been at Cork & Kerry since its first location opened in Floral Park in 2015, but he’s been bartending on Long Island for 10 years. Originally picking up the trade as a fun way to make money, Brickel turned his college job into a successful career. “I have done other things [like teaching],” he said. “But the whole time, I’ve stayed behind the bar.”
The social aspect of bartending is what drives Brickel. Catering to each bar-goer’s preferences can sometimes be challenging, but it’s equally rewarding. “The best thing is talking to someone, figuring out the things they like and making the right drink for the right person,” he said.
Brickel is no stranger to competition. Cork & Kerry came in first place in the 2016 New York Craft Cocktail Expo where Brickel presented his recipe for the “Lucky Number Nine.” The drink also snagged the title of “Most Creative Cocktail” at the 2016 Yelp Cocktail Classic. It’s made from a combination of milk-washed gin, acid-adjusted orange juice, orange blossom water and sea salt. On his own, Brickel also won first prize in the Calvados Boulard “Trou Normand” Challenge. “Trou Normand,” or Norman hole, is a small drink made with calvados (a type of apple brandy) meant to be enjoyed between courses of a long meal. His special recipe featured Boulard Calvados with Pineau des Charentes and Cynar 70.
Gearing up to face his fellow competitors at Island Tasting, Brickel is working on mixing the right ingredients again. “I know both of the other competitors and their bars and I think they’re going to bring some cool things,” he said. “I want to try to come up with something that fits my personality and the personality of my bar, while still representing the sponsor.”