Today we’re delighted to welcome to the blog Luis Hernandez, Head Bartender at Seamstress on the Upper East Side! We got him to give us the inside scoop on what being a mixologist in NYC really entails, as well as his favorite places to eat and drink in NYC (because you know if it’s a place a bartender goes, it’s solid!)
1. Tell us a little about yourself, how you got into the business, where you currently work, and all about the award you recently won!
I started out as a dishwasher when I was very young and worked my way up. My family owned a restaurant where I was cooking and I found myself working behind the bar by chance. Through bartending I’ve worked in Cape Cod, Florida, and New York. I am currently Head Bartender at Seamstress in the Upper East Side. This has been a very big year for me, earlier this year I got to compete in London as NYC’s finalist for Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender and I am now going through the Bacardi Legacy competition. This last one is a very interesting one for me, it really forces me to be outside of the box and step away from my usual cocktail creation and more into a marketing mindset, really forcing me to research and learn more about our industry and myself.
2. If you had to characterize New York City as a cocktail, which one would it be?
Kind of a combination of an old fashioned or daiquiri with some hip hop playing in the background.
3. What’s the craziest story you have from your days behind the bar? (Don’t worry, we won’t name names!;-)
We had a crazy night working at the Daily in Soho, one night we had bartenders from all over the world in New York and my boss at the time, Naren, invited them to come and drink at the Daily. I had already worked brunch and stayed to try and meet some people. Myself and two other bartenders who were not working that night got pulled into working that night and ended leaving at around 7am (the next day!) after we were done cleaning. Towards the end of the night we were serving shots in flutes because we couldn’t wash glassware fast enough, craziest night I’ve ever had.
4. We love to hear insider secrets and hidden gems! Besides the restaurant you work at, what are your personal favorite spots in NYC to go for:
—your go-to restaurant?
My favorite place to regularly go to though is Raku in the East Village.
—a romantic date night meal with your wife?
Nomad Bar is pretty awesome, we are actually having our 4 year anniversary there.
—go-to coffee shop?
Can’t say I really have a go to but the coffee at Doughnut Plant in the Lower East Side is pretty awesome.
—after hours dive bar?
Decibel might be a weird one here, but awesome sake and snacks in a punk rock/metal setting is pretty dope.
5. And finally, any tips on how to make cocktails at home taste as good as the ones you mix up?!
Get good spirits and fresh juices and do a bit of research, ask your bartender at your favorite bar and keep tasting your cocktails, it’s fun homework.
You can follow along with Luis on Instagram, and if you’re grabbing drinks at Seamstress, make sure to stop by and say hello!
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