We talk to travelling Kiwi mixologist Philip David about life behind the bar, at home and away
How did you get into cocktails?
It started with disaster. I left New Zealand for my big OE when I was 19 and a week later my appendix burst in Australia. The doctor told me there was no chance I could carry on my travels for a while, so I postponed the trip for a year and began working in a Latin cocktail lounge to earn some money. They specialised in rum and tequila and I learned how to make some great mixes as well as meeting the hospo family that would welcome me to the industry I love so much! Since then I've worked at Red Bar, Q Theatre with Laura Lopez, and got the opportunity to take over Cartel Bar where I developed my own style of menu and could play all the electro swing my heart desired.
How did you end up in Buffalo, New York?
I like to travel and learn about drinks at the same time, so last year I took the pilgrimage to New Orleans to visit the French Quarter during the Tales of the Cocktail festival. I met some great people and was offered the chance to be a guest bartender at Vera in Buffalo.
The bartending community is international, so much of what is going on here is the same as in New Zealand, Australia and the UK. The Americans use the word "craft" a lot ... and barrel-aged cocktails are a thing here too. Globally, simplicity is the focus at the moment, stripping down those cocktails that have 11 ingredients to the important parts that actually affect the final flavour of the drink and don't just get lost in the mix. If you can't identify an ingredient in the final drink, it probably shouldn't be there in the first place.
Do you like your martini shaken or stirred?
Stirred always! I love a good martini, it's simple and can be made just as well at home as it can in a 5-star hotel. You should stir spirit-based cocktails and shake when using fresh fruit, juices and syrups to ensure they are mixed properly. A shaken martini will be cloudy and have ice shards which really ruins the elegance. If I'm not drinking martini then I love a tasty ginger beer as a mixer, something with a bit of heat to it.
Toast Mail Drink ideas, recipes and tips delivered right to your inbox.Sign up