Drink This Cocktail: The Watermelon Gimlet
A bartender from Peels and Freeman’s discusses Cristal and Long Island Iced Teas.
Yana, Bar Manager
325 Bowery, New York
So why is this the one drink everyone should drink this weekend?
Because it's supper in a glass. Watermelon and basil are really in season, and those flavors together give you a nice new expression that’s refreshing, delicious, and beautiful.
If a guy saw a girl at the bar who he wanted to impress, what would you recommend sending over?
A glass of champagne. Always. I'm not trying to create a battle between cocktails and champagne, but there's something very classy and sexy about a glass of champagne. It's such a classy move. And if you need to make it a cocktail, make it a champagne cocktail.
What about a modern woman sending a man a drink?
I think a julep's pretty sexy. It's very dapper, a nice brooding cocktail. And it's a nice, summery way to have bourbon or rye.
Do you create custom cocktails for customers?
Sure, I can create cocktails based on mood, temperature, flavor, color. Or superhero names. I was once surprised at the ease and comfort of a woman who asked me to make her a cocktail to help ease her menstrual cramps.
So what did you make her?
I made her a hot toddy. Something nice to loosen her muscles. At the end of the day, you're kind of a doctor. Sometimes I don't want to know what mood someone's in, but you feel it. You're susceptible to the energies of the people in front of you. Just like people are susceptible to my personality from behind the bar.
Can you tell if a couple is on a first date?
Yes. I can tell if they're on a blind date, on a regular first date, or if they met online.
What are the tell-tale signs?
It's an instinct. But I did have a couple who came in on their first date, became regulars, and then came in a year later, married. You have to just observe innocently.
How can you tell when a first date might lead to love?
You can tell it's going well if they move on to food, past the "Let's just have a cocktail" moment. You can tell if they're making each other laugh — that's always a good sign. If they want to see menus, they want more time together. When it's going badly, one person leaves and the other stays.
And just drinks away their sorrows?
Usually they just ask for the check and leave.
You're a hot lady bartender. Do customers try to pick you up?
Not really. Or if it's happening, I'm not aware that it's happening. I have a very professional manner, so I think people might find that intimidating. Though I have had someone tried to send me bottles of champagne. Cristal.
Was it P. Diddy?
No, Jesus. It was when I was working at a really corporate hotel, and I had to get it approved so I could actually take it.
Cristal aside, what can someone order that will really impress you?
I'm a bit of a purist. If someone asks for a martini or a Manhattan, they're looking for a subtle expression of something classic. It's fun to try out my proportion and recipe and see if they like it.
What's a drink that's embarrassing to make?
I don't judge. You can't stop people from the Jersey shore from coming in after being in the sun for a few hours. If they want to drink whatever they want to drink, I'm not going to stop them. Dude, I made a Long Island Iced Tea the other day, and they thought it was the best Long Island Iced Tea they'd ever had. Whatever, I'll take it. I don't think I can ever say a Long Island Iced Tea is quality, but they experienced fresh sour mix and a new combination of five white spirits. And they were happy and ordered another one, so that’s nice.
2 oz. tequila
1 oz. fresh watermelon juice
.5 oz. lime juice
Balance with simple syrup
Pinch of opal basil
Combine all ingredients in a shaker, strain into chilled coupe, garnish with opal basil flower.