Brooklyn Bartender: A Modern Guide to Cocktails and Spirits author Carey Jones is the focus of this installment of my 10-4-10 series. Ten people involved an some aspect of the spirits industry responding to ten questions.
Brooklyn is experiencing a renaissance that is magical and Carey expertly captures the essence of this now widely popular borough of New York City. Here we go…
1.Congratulations on your book. It’s so much more than the usual list of cocktails. I’m dealing with Brooklyn envy at the moment! Tell us a little about your book, perhaps what you consider the highlights.
Thanks so much! The idea with this book was to capture today’s vibrant Brooklyn bar scene — not just in terms of the drinks themselves, but the amazing men and women behind them, their beautiful establishments, tricks of the trade and bartender lore. The book contains 300 recipes from bars around the borough, all tested and arranged by spirit. The idea is that everyone, from a novice to a professional mixologist, can find drinks at their level, and recipes they’ll want to make again and again.
2.Have you spent time behind the bar either professionally or while working on the book? If yes, tell us about it.
I’ve worked service jobs but not behind the bar. That said, my husband is an accomplished bartender, who has run cocktail programs for many New York bars of a similar caliber to the establishments in this book. (None in Brooklyn, though!) Having first watched how he works, then collaborated with him professionally — we do a weekly cocktail column for the Food & Wine website, and a monthly cocktail video for the Saveur website –has offered me a real insight into the craft. I’ve learned a lot of the mindset that goes into creating cocktails, understood the industry from a pro’s standpoint — and I’ve now got my own stirring and shaking technique down!
3.Single malt scotch is my go-to spirit, do you have a go-to spirit or cocktail?
I will never say no to a properly made Negroni. In fact, I might go make one right now…
4.What cocktail and/or spirit trends to you see building currently?
It’s amazing how quickly trends pop up — if you’d told me a few years ago I’d be writing about cocktails made with activated charcoal or blue Curaçao, I’d have thought you were insane. What I find more interesting, and more enduring, is the very slow process by which drinkers at large become more comfortable with a spirit. A decade ago, very few people thought of tequila as anything other than a shot or a margarita; now, even casual cocktail drinkers know that there’s a whole world of high-end tequila. I see a similar process happening with rum, and though this isn’t a spirit, sherry.
5.Do you have a favorite cocktail bar outside of Brooklyn? Outside of the USA?
Oh boy. Ward III in Tribeca is my enduring favorite; Bar Goto in the Lower East Side, my current obsession. The most surprising cocktails I’ve had recently were in a tiny bar called Bar Trench in Tokyo. The drinks are unbelievably intricate and when you read them, or even see them, you might think they are too complicated — that drink comes inside a birdcage? It as how many ingredients? — but every drink is focused and balanced and just so, so on point. Surprising flavors that work beautifully.
6.Is there another cocktail book in the pipeline?
Working on the proposal now — I’ll be thrilled to share more info when I can!
7.I recently created an infographic on the pairing of single malt and cheese. Have you discovered any interesting pairings?
Interesting! I think pairing food with spirits can be incredibly difficult — wine and beer are inherently more food-friendly. But I’m always game to try. Green Spot whiskey with an aged Irish cheddar is my idea of a perfect dessert, so I can see how Scotch would work as well!
Oh, wait — half an ounce of a single malt like Bowmore 12 poured over an oyster, and done as a shot, is brilliant — the salinity of the Scotch and the oyster all in one go.
8.Are there any public engagements coming up for you during the next few months?
Not planned at the moment, I’m taking time to focus on my next book proposal.
9.Following up on your comments about the Food and Wine website, how did your career as a food and drink writer get launched and where do you want to take it?
During my college years I knew I wanted to be a writer, and interned for several media companies, then began writing freelance while still in school. After graduation I pursued writing full-time. When you’re just starting out, every article you write is a result of a pitch you sent an editor (even if it’s one assigned article for every 50 pitches.) So it focuses your attention pretty quickly — nearly all of my pitches were about food, drink, or travel, which told me quite a bit! I was lucky enough to land a full-time job at the food publication Serious Eats, first as the New York editor, then the managing editor, a positon I held for a number of years. By the time I left, I was looking forward to turning my focus from running a food site to writing about topics across a broader range — food, spirits, cocktails, and travel.
To me, the most rewarding projects are long-form — whether books, or writing more substantial articles than the average one piece. I’d like to get to a point where I can wholly focus on one project of my own choosing at a time, whether solo, or a collaboration with my husband. And we wouldn’t say no to a television show!
10.How can readers keep in touch with you?
I can be found on Twitter @careyjones, Instagram @carey_jones, and Facebook at writercareyjones.
Special thanks to Carey for sharing her road to the Brooklyn Bartender! Now I want to find the time to test the 300 recipes – what a goal to strive for. I raise a glass to Carey and the thoroughly enjoyable Brooklyn Bartender.