The Bar Napkin, featuring The Drying Pole


May 15, 2010 (Day 105) — The Drying Pole

Welcome to the fourth week of The Bar Napkin, the weekly feature where Cocktails 365 interviews an honest-to-God bartender or person in the booze business, then we make one of their signature drinks! So far we’ve covered my hometown, Chicago and Toronto. Now, we head west and go Sin City. The home of showgirls, the Rat Pack, Fear and Loathing, and William Peterson’s beard.

Say what you will about his methods, that beard is the best damn CSI on the force.

That’s right! We’re heading to Las Vegas.

This week’s specimen is a relative newbie to the cocktail scene. Today, we sit down with Nathan Greene — who can be found all around the Internets on Twitter, on Facebook, and even on YouTube.

Nathan is originally from the Bay Area in California. For 10 years, he was an accountant who used poker as a way to supplement his income. He eventually turned full-time semi-pro and used poker as his main means of income.  However, last year, personally and professionally, he went through a very difficult time, and  had to find something I was passionate about and could make a career.

This is Nathan.

Ladies?

Cocktails, 365: How did you first get involved bartending?

Nathan: I got involved with bartending really in December of ’09.  When I was 21 long ago, I wanted to go to bartending school back when I lived in the Bay Area (I moved out here to Las Vegas w/my soon-to-be ex-wife 4 years ago), but my parents didn’t want me to. I researched all the schools here in Vegas, and ended up attending Crescent School of Gaming and Bartending after visiting the campus and on a recommendation through the grapevine.  It turned out to be the best decision I’ve made in a long, long time.  My instructors’ expertise ranges from those who opened up Red Square to Voodoo Lounge here in Vegas to flair bartenders to consultants/mixologists who have won numerous competitions.  I went through the 3-month Head Bartending/Beverage Management course (five hours a day, five days a week) and was told I graduated with the one of the highest GPAs for a student ever in the 27 years of the school’s history.

Cocktails, 365: Since you’re new to the biz, how are you try to get your foot in the door?

Nathan:  I’m trying to break into the business in several ways: One, I entered my first cocktail competition, the International Wine, Spirits & Beer’s “Star of the Bar 2010” in the hopes that I’d make the
semi-finals, so I could add that to my resume.  Fortunately, I’ve made it, and in less than 2 weeks I’m being flown out to Chicago and put up at the Downtown Marriott to compete for a $5000 prize, my drink featured at Rock It Bar & Grill in Chicago, and a page in every American Airlines in-flight magazine with five other semi-finalists.  My drink isn’t pushing the boundaries of mixology by any means, but I think it’s appropriate for what Bacardi (who’s the main sponsor) was looking for.  Regardless of what happens, I’ve achieved my goal, and I can now buff up my resume a little more.

Two, I joined the United States Bartenders’ Guild in April.  I’m fortunate in that Southern Wine & Spirits, the second largest spirits distributor in the nation, is based here in Las Vegas.  That means that every sales rep and mixologist for every brand comes through here, and now, as a member, I’m allowed to attend tastings, enter more USBG sanctioned competitions in the future, study for my “Spirits Professional” accreditation and Brand Ambassadorships, and most importantly, make connections with some of the most well-respected bartenders and mixologists known the world over.  I hate to name drop, but I have been fortunate enough to meet Tony Abou-Ganim twice already, Francesco LaFranconi, Steve Olsen from Bon Apetit, Armando Rosario, Alex Velez, Claire Smith, Patricia Richards, just to name a few.  It’s been very exciting, and next to attending Crescent, probably the second best thing I’ve done for myself since I decided to enter this field.

Three, I’m using Crescent’s placement office and maniacally using the internet to search for any openings.  I’m pounding the pavement and showing my face, too;  it’s difficult here, however, because 20% of the service workforce is unemployed, so any place that is hiring can afford to be choosy at the moment, preferring to overlook me for more “experienced” or “savvy” people.  It’s about who you know here, and now that I’m getting to know really good people, I know it’s only a matter of time.

Cocktails, 365: Very cool. Any new projects?

Nathan: Only project, so to speak, that I’m working on is prepping for the “Star of the Bar” competition.  Every day, I’m writing down ideas I have in my head, reading others’ tweets & blogs, going to spirits’ websites or watching Food Network and getting inspiration for new cocktail creations.  I then research to verify if anyone has thought of my idea before, then I hope I have enough scratch to buy the ingredients to test and flesh out my recipes!  Aside from that, I’m just absorbing as much information to be ready to take my “Spirits Professional” test through the USBG (http://www.usbg.org/Certification).  I want to be behind the stick for up to 5 years, then hopefully parlay that into a Head Mixologist or Beverage Manager position somewhere for awhile.  Ultimately, I would like for my experience to lead me to a Brand Ambassador position — being one of Diageo’s 15 Masters of Whiskey would be a dream come true!

Cocktails, 365: What’s your signature cocktail?

Nathan:  I don’t have a signature cocktail per se, however one I’m most proud of is what I call “The Drying Pole” which is named after the famous swordsman, Sasaki Kojiiro’s nodachi, or samurai sword.  He was Musashi Miyamoto’s main rival during Feudal times.  Being 1/2 Japanese, I’m deep into Japanese lore and Eastern philosophy. His sword was long & heavy, but his strikes were unnaturally quick & precise.  For the cocktail, the green-tea earthiness is long on the palette and slightly heavy, but the citrus attacks the tongue quickly and precisely on the sides.

Recipe is as follows:

1 1/2 oz green tea-infused vodka

3/4 oz green tea liqueur

1/4 oz yuzu juice (I had to substitute lime, as I wasn’t able to track down any yuzu. While not the same, it’ll have to do.)

1/2 oz fresh lemon sour

2 tbsp pasteurized egg whites

1 tsp  Confectioners Sugar

Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass, shake vigorously with ice in a Boston shaker because a foam is OK.  Double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  You can garnish with a lemon spiral.

I tried this with the vodka and the liqueur together shaken and strained, then made a yuzu-lemon foam with my iSi Whipper, and it worked OK, but the above recipe works better, I feel.

Nathan’s Take: I have only had a couple of people try it thus far, and reaction has been favorable.  Not many people used to tasting green tea in their cocktails.  I enjoy it.  It’s actually rather refreshing, and I hope to use it as part of my repertoire soon!

Cocktails, 365 Take: Nathan said essentially what I feel, only much more eloquently. “For the cocktail, the green-tea earthiness is long on the palette and slightly heavy, but the citrus attacks the tongue quickly and precisely on the sides.” The darkness of the tea is complimented by the brightness of the citrus fruits and sugar. Very refreshing, and bouncy. It makes me wish that we were having Japanese food this evening. We’re having BBQ, which is equally freaking awesome, it seems to heavy to be prepared with this drink. I think a sushi meal, or something with a lightly grilled fish would be excellent. As for my choice of glass, rather than using a traditional cocktail glass, I thought it fitting to use an extra long champagne flute. After all — Kojiiro’s sword was longer than expected, yet deceptively fast. So will you find yourself taking this tasty cocktail down.

•••

Of course, don’t forget to find Nathan on Twitter, on Facebook, and even on YouTube. And wish him the best of luck at the Star of the Bar competition! A hearty thanks once again for Nathan taking time out of his schedule to help us out! All the best!

Cheers!

— Mark

Comments

  1. Nathan Greene says:

    Mark, that’s awesome. Thanks a ton. I definitely dig the pic at the end, and you’re definitely right about the glass! I’m glad you were able to try it even without the Yuzu. Now that I think about it, I should’ve added some sort of bitters, but my skills are just gaining speed. Thanks again for asking me.

Trackbacks

  1. […] a bartender with his own traveling business, a cocktail stylist, a former bartender and an aspiring bartender. In keeping with the tradition of interviewing people involved in the cocktail industry, […]

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