Behind the Bar at Bridgehampton Inn & Restaurant

Welcome to Behind the Bar(tender), a series in which Long Island Pulse, thirsty for great conversation and even better cocktails, meets with the Island’s most talented bartenders.

Kyle Fengler
Bar manager, Bridgehampton Inn & Restaurant

If you weren’t a bartender, you’d be:
Probably a chef.

Favorite thing about working behind a bar:
It’s incredibly gratifying to spend my time, effort and passion on recipes, cocktail names and descriptions, and to see that come together when I get feedback from my guests.

Least favorite thing about working behind a bar:
Balancing creativity with efficiency. There are times I know a new drink won’t be something I can serve at the bar in quantity, because it’s either extremely time sensitive or really labor intensive in making it. But I like the challenge.

Define the perfect cocktail:
Something I’ve never tried.

Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
I’d have to give that to “a low-alcohol martini.”

Your inspiration:
I do a fair amount of traveling; the cultural themes or flavor senses in other countries.

Describe your cocktail list:
Creative and approachable. There’s quite a varied audience of drinkers in the restaurant and bar, from the creative cocktail seeker to those seeking a more consistent or familiar libation. I try to be mindful of representing a wide variety of styles and characteristics. I change the menu every few weeks, keeping a few things on for longer consistency, and then the rest rotate. I’m mindful of using seasonal ingredients here, but other elements and themes come into play too. I’ve featured drinks based on fortified wines such as port, sherry or Madeira.

KyleFengler_730

Favorite drink to mix:
Flips. Egg in general is such a fantastic ingredient for changing texture and richness in a cocktail. And flips are such a niche category of cocktail that, if you come up to me and order one, I’m instantly your best friend.

One thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
House martinis. With rare exception, if you’re putting a martini on your menu it’s because you couldn’t think of anything else.

The best piece of bartending advice you’ve ever received:
“It’s all in the wrists.”

If you could mix a drink for one person, dead or alive:
My father. He’s been a great source of inspiration to me over the years, and we share a lot of the same interests. But he doesn’t drink, so I’d love to be able to share that aspect of my life with him.

Favorite thing to do when you’re not drinking or drink making:
Spending time with my family. Also powerlifting. I love the challenge of constantly pushing to improve my strength. I’m definitely a huge nerd as well, whether that’s watching anime, reading comics or playing video games.

Your favorite bar and why:
Pouring Ribbons in the East Village. I’ve had so many great conversations with the staff on cocktails and spirits. It’s a great place to nerd out in good company.

Best thing you ever drank:
Tarragona Chartreuse. It’s sublimely balanced and packed to the gills with flavor, with a finish that will carry you upstairs and tuck you in with a bedtime story.

Worst thing you ever drank:
Mekhong, an infused spirit from Thailand. Whatever spices they macerate it with haunt my nightmares. It’s the only drink I’ve ever refused to finish.

First time you got drunk:
The night before my aunt’s wedding. It involved a love triangle between Hendrick’s, Booker’s and Laphroaig. I think all of us regretted it the next day.

If your bar shifts had a theme song:
“Come Down” by Anderson .Paak.

After a shift, you drink:
Chartreuse. I think my veins are filled with it at this point.

Signature Drink | Kami’s Revelry

This is an aperitif-style cocktail taking inspiration from my more recent travels to Japan. Kami are spirits that represent elements, individuals or ideas in Shinto, the native religion of Japan. I wanted this drink to focus purely on flavor and sensation, rather than being spirit forward (laughs).

There’s a refreshing balance of fruited and vegetal characteristics here that I think transitions well between dishes when paired with food. Bright citrus flavor from the oleo saccharum intermingles with the briny character of the sherry, as well as other more vegetal and herbaceous notes, and the sake softens and rounds out the finish. I used a junmai sake here, as the higher protein content in the fermentation adds a more assertive and funky fruit character. It’s definitely a light and refreshing drink, and strikes a bright chord in flavor and visual presentation amidst more robust or savory cocktails in this season.

Serving: 1

3oz manzanilla sherry, preferably Equipo Navazos
3/4 oz yuzu juice
1/2 oz junmai sake, preferably Joto
1/2 oz orange oleo saccharum (see below)
1/2 oz Fernet Branca
1/4 oz Cointreau
1 medium-sized cucumber, peeled, seeded and cut in 2-inch julienne, for muddling

Garnish: sprig of lemon verbena and cucumber slice

1) Spiral cucumber slice along the inside of a chilled double rocks glass so that it curls upwards, add a large ice cube, then set aside.
2) Muddle julienne cucumber in the bottom of a mixing tin.
3) Add remaining ingredients and fill the tin with ice.
4) Shake hard to a 10-second count and double strain through a fine mesh sieve into the prepared double rocks glass.
5) Garnish with sprig of lemon verbena, joining cucumber slice and serve with a short straw.

Orange oleo saccharum
1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh orange juice, unstrained
2 oranges

Remove zest from oranges in wide strips with a vegetable peeler, leaving white pith behind. Combine the zest and sugar thoroughly in a mixing bowl, cover and set aside for one hour to allow the oils to infuse. Remove the infused sugar and combine with the juice in a saucepan. Heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved, but remain below boiling. Once fully dissolved, remove from the stove and let cool for approximately 30 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, and store in refrigeration. Will keep for around 10 days.

niko krommydas

Niko Krommydas has written for Tasting Table, BeerAdvocate, Munchies, and First We Feast. He is editor of Craft Beer New York, an app for the iPhone, and a columnist for Yankee Brew News. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.