What the World’s Best Bartenders Drink At Home

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Courtesy of Tales of the Cocktail

Last week, thousands of bartenders and barflies from around the world gathered for Tales of the Cocktail, an annual convention held every year in New Orleans’s French Quarter. Daytime seminars covered subjects like the history of Irish pubs, the science of frozen drinks, and how to avoid bar-related injuries, while at night, partygoers swam in a seemingly limitless sea of free booze at cocktail competitions and elaborately themed parties. Here, four of the convention’s biggest personalities — and some the world’s most knowledgeable mixologists — share their secrets, including what they mix at home and the only spirit they drink neat.

Damon Boelte
Bartender and co-owner of Grand Army in Brooklyn, and host of The Speakeasy 

What’s your desert island drink?
Iced tea. And maybe a side of bourbon or Montenegro (an Italian amaro).

What do you drink at home?
I like a Montgomery Smith. It was invented by Nate Dumas, the bar director of the Shanty in Brooklyn. It’s so elegant. It’s my favorite of the modern classics.

Montgomery Smith

  • 2 oz cognac
  • 1/2 oz Benedictine
  • 1/4 oz Fernet Branca

Stir ingredients over ice; strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

What‘s one spirit you‘d only drink neat?
El Dorado 12 (an aged rum from Guyana). While it’s very good on the rocks, it’s just so fucking good neat.

Steven Soderbergh
Oscar-winning filmmaker and importer of the new Singani 63

What‘s the world‘s best bar?
That’s a tough one because, boy, do I like my bars. Let’s just go with frequency: The Brandy Library in Tribeca has become my de facto office.

What do you drink at home?
If I’m not drinking a singani, I’m probably drinking a Peroni or something, because I want a beer. My beer interest is strictly driven by whatever the coldest thing they have is.

Do you have a specific hangover cure?
If you’re that lit that you’re going to need a cure, your skill level at preventative maintenance is probably not good. I have found that if you take an aspirin and drink one of those 8 oz coconut waters before you go to bed — that’s the best thing that I’ve come across.


Avery Glasser
New Orleans residents, founder of Bittermens bitters and spirits company

World‘s best bar?
The one I’m sitting in.

Any spirit you only drink neat?
Any spirit over seven years old.

What do you drink at home?
A gin and tonic. Or beer in a glass.

Paul Clarke
Executive editor of Imbibe magazine and author of The Cocktail Chronicles

Best bar in the world?
I have to say the Zig Zag Café in Seattle. They continue to have the best service, the best hospitality, and the greatest drinks.

What do you drink at home?
My go-to is the Negroni.

White Negroni

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1 oz Suze
  • 1 oz Lillet blanc

Stir over ice; strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Any spirit you only drink neat?
No. I make exceptions for everything.

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