Posted by: Matt Hamlin | April 27, 2009

Q&A with Phil Ward

The New York Times recently did a write-up on mezcal and Philip Ward’s latest bar, Mayahuel. Following the article, they announced that Phil would be fielding NYTimes.com reader questions and answering them in a subsequent post. In the comments I posed the following question:

In the revival of craft cocktails and cocktailian culture, gin and rye have largely lead the way. I’m curious to find out how you came to idea of opening a cocktail bar with a tequila & mezcal focus? Do you expect their to be a patron learning curve for these cocktails? And lastly, what sort of bitters do you see as being uniquely suited for tequila and mezcal cocktails? Looking forward to my first visit and thanks for coming by to answer questions. — Matt Browner Hamlin

Phil answered:

Yes, rye and gin have lead the way but all things must lead somewhere. As a bartender it was fascinating to use spirits such as tequila or Scotch in drinks because you don’t find those in the old books and it feels more original and they can be a bit more challenging for their intensity. The learning curve for cocktails is one balanced drink, as mentioned in regard to 100 first-time mezcal drinkers this week who didn’t require any more instruction than one properly balanced drink for a tutorial.

I think Phil is spot-on regarding the learning curve. Maybe I gave him a bit of a softball, but the whole beauty of well-crafted cocktails is that they allow someone to enjoy something that they might have no prior exposure to. I’ve had this happen with many different drinks along the way. The Blood & Sand is an example I always come back to as someone who has never been actively into scotch-based cocktails.

As a project, Mayahuel excites me because it does allow a bartender like Ward to take cocktail culture in a new direction of his own making. I didn’t get to visit this weekend, but will go the next time I’m in NYC.

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  1. [...] potent concoction, which was created by mixologist Phil Ward, has been on the bar’s menu since it opened up back in 2007 and was written about in the New [...]


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