Formative as the college years are, one side job was all it took to persuade Brent Lamberti out of a career in journalism and into a prolific profession in the liquor realm. Now the New York brand ambassador for elit by Stolichnaya has 12 years of craft cocktail savoir-faire to his name, with no intent of slowing down. We caught up with Lamberti for insight on the industry, his picks for the best bars in town and, of course, the recipe for his favorite drink.
What started your career in mixology?
Way before the term “mixologist” entered into the national lexicon, I was a bartender. Back then mixology wasn’t really a career, either. It was a means to an end. I was studying journalism at NYU and needed to make some money in a job with a flexible schedule. In 1999 I got my first bartending job at a restaurant in Tribeca. I loved the instant gratification of serving a customer a drink and seeing their reaction to it. Before too long I was using my reporting skills to research the history of spirits and cocktails around the world. I learned about Jerry Thomas, Charles H. Baker, Gary Reagan and Dale Degroff. Right about this time, great cocktail bars like Angels Share and Milk and Honey started opening. The rest is history.
Tell us something we wouldn’t expect about your day to day in this industry.
We don’t sleep all day! I look at the cocktail business like any other business: it’s work. I’m fortunate that I love what I do, but it is a business.
What is the first cocktail you loved?
The Manhattan. Rye, Sweet Vermouth, bitters, brandied cherry garnish. Whiskey and Vermouth were born to go together. Like Crockett and Tubbs.
Your go-to drink?
If I’m relaxing and feel like having something to kick the night off, there is nothing better than elit by Stolichnaya on the rocks. No fancy mixers needed. Just clean, pure elit. It’s effortlessly drinkable.
What are your favorite bars?
Goldbar in New York recently relaunched, and they are doing amazing things. I can’t wait for Ruschmeyer’s to open up again this summer out in Montauk. The Corner Bistro in the West Village is my neighborhood go-to bar.
What are you doing this weekend?
Spending time with my family and my beautiful daughter Luna Mia. If it’s warm and sunny, I’ll try and get in a round of golf.
Tell us about your favorite spring cocktail.
This drink has been a crowd pleaser since the day I first served it. Perfect after a day of spring cleaning.
The Casino Royale
1.5 oz elit by Stolichnaya
1.0 oz Aperol
0.5 oz St. Germain
2.0 oz fresh Ruby Red Grapefruit juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain over fresh ice in a double rocks glass. Garnish with a orange slice.