The master bartender discusses what it means to make a signature cocktail menu around the world
by David Graver in Food + Drink on 23 October 2014
There are few people in the spirits world with a name as recognizable as Salvatore Calabrese. Yes, he held the world record for most expensive cocktail (pricey because of the rare, vintage cognac he used dating back to 1778). But more importantly, his work has spanned over half a century and several countries. Calabrese is a martini master, who went so far as to invent the now-famed Breakfast Martini, frequently voted one of the top ten new modern classics. Altogether, his imagination, and belief in "liquid history" (a concept that implores people to seek out vintage spirits and ingredients) have lead to signature cocktail menus the world over. We met up with him at his latest endeavor, the old world-style Bound in Las Vegas' boutique hotel The Cromwell.
For Calabrese, it comes down to process and inspiration when developing a signature menu. "When I start to think about my next new home, I ask myself what will the world want to enjoy? Hospitality. Secondary, I want it to be something of mine. Of me, or a note that makes me. What will the concept be? For example, the concept here needs to be for the world and for Las Vegas," he shares with CH. "For a menu I need to add something everyone will recognize, a classic. Then I think of the new style of modern bartenders, and play with that. Finally, I think on something completely unique." And this is just the start.
"Then I start to dream," he continues. "It's a dream zone. That lead me here. I thought, what does Vegas not do? Sleep. When people are here for two or three days, they do not want to get in bed.They want to stay awake. So, for me, I thought to give them a sophisticated way to stay awake. I created a section of cocktails that are coffee-based. But these are not espresso martinis. They are something special."
When it comes to individual drink ideation, Calabrese starts with a base and opens the flood gates of experimentation. "I start every day with an espresso. In my mocha pot, I put the water and the coffee. So I thought, what would happen if I removed the water. What can this be done with? Beer? Champagne? Vermouth. I started to really have some fun. For me, when I start to create something, I like to think about a secret weapon." This was how his Breakfast Martini was born. This, Calabrese believes, is one of his best accomplishments. "The biggest dream of any bartender is to immortalize oneself with a great drink that in a 100 years time people are still enjoying."
"I have been doing this for 48 years, since 1966. I still love doing this. What I love, is what I have learned. It's all very well to be a great mixologist, but that does not give you the right to call yourself a good bartender. Mixing drinks and hospitality go together. That's where the soul comes from. We do a vivid, living theater," he says. Moreover, he describes a global movement. "The world has become quite small. When I started, behind my bar I had a handful of bottles. Now I have over 600 different types, some going as far back as 1770. The world is not as fast as we think, so these things are accessible. Especially because we communicate with each other." Calabrese believes the art of cocktail making is growing closer to that of cooking. He himself utilizes rare ingredients that only chefs use, but he maintains that over the top cocktails are not a sign of quality cocktail crafting.
Calabrese's personal favorite drink is the negroni. "I had to make a twist on the negroni. I am a negroni lover. It's one of the most difficult drinks because it is so simple. Lots of bartenders do not understand there are the three ingredients and the way they are placed together matters: the bitterness of Campari, the sweetness of Vermouth and the spicy dryness of gin." Calabrese played with this for a negroni unique to The Cromwell. He also modernized the Blood and Sand, by way of aging the individual components. "It's light and full of freshness, but it settles into richness. For me, this makes a good drink." And that's what Calabrese has been doing for years: making and envisioning drinks that are more than just good, they're memorable.
Lead image by David Graver, other images courtesy of The Cromwell
A celebration of contemporary art rooted in urban culture in East London
by Cajsa Carlson in Culture on 23 October 2014
Innovative art company Moniker Projects’ eponymous Moniker Art Fair just marked its fifth anniversary with a three-day show at The Truman Brewery in the creative and commercial center of East London. While attending the show, we recently caught up with director and curator Frankie Shea (who co-founded Moniker with Kristophe Hofford) about the fair's featured artists and galleries, which have “roots in urban culture and come from the edgier, wilder side of the art world.”
This year the exciting line-up included street art legend Shepard Fairey, who was showing as part of artist-run gallery Stolen Space, as well as Berlin-based artist Vermibus, whose work was on display in the OPEN WALLS gallery stall. Vermibus "borrows" advertising posters and manipulates the ink on the posters using a solvent, brushing away both the flesh and faces of the models, as well as the brand logos, before putting them back. His beautiful and unnerving works were one of the highlights of the show.
22 galleries in total showed at Moniker, and visitors could also experience art being made from scratch at the fair. Moniker artists Keira Rathbone and Benjamin Murphy created their typewriter prints and electrical tape artworks among the show’s visitors. Both artists make intricate, detailed works out of everyday materials, offering insight into Moniker’s young, street smart spirit.
To celebrate their half-decade anniversary, Moniker’s own stall at the fair displayed its Five Years Young project. “I wanted to bring together a group of homegrown talent that I have worked with over the years and whose work I personally collect, too. The combination of the three main artists’ use of different media—Matt Small (metal), Jo Peel (canvas), and Mark McClure (found wood)—also made for a great show,” Shea says.
RCA graduate Small presented his 2D and 3D portraits of people on the outskirts of society, creating a shared sense of humanity to “bring a positive energy to otherwise marginalized children and young adults of London,” Shea says. The floor of the Moniker stall was made by McClure, whose wooden sculptures are interestingly influenced by both Bauhaus and graffiti. McClure has previously had success at Moniker—his works sold out in 2012. "We've developed a close working relationship since involving Mark in Living Walls, a major public project for Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Mark's geometric wooden tiles—a 210-meter vertical sculpture fabricated from wood sourced from in and around the park—is one of the highlights of the project," Shea comments.
Moniker’s third main artist, Jo Peel, uses public murals as well as hand-painted animations to explore changes in the city. "She is obsessed with the urban landscape and [is] always in flux," Shea says. Peel’s work has previously been commissioned by Chanel and shown as part of the London Design Festival, and her depictions of the streets of east London are both edgy and slightly nostalgic. Though the show finished its run on a few days ago, visit Moniker Art Fair online to view the entire list of exhibitors.
Lead and final two images courtesy of Moniker Art Fair, all others by Cajsa Carlson
Wheels big and small made in house, thousands at a time
by Cool Hunting Video in Design on 23 October 2014
In our fourth and final piece from our visit with Kawasaki in Lincoln, NE we went to a smaller corner of their enormous plant. While probably the least glamorous of their products, their wheels may be the most practical and abundant. The company brings in raw steel and spits out a finished wheel—the entire process takes place thousands of times a day, and no matter how many times you've seen it, remains mesmerizing.