Cut 432 Takes Cocktails a Cut Above

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Bill Citara
Cut 432's Brian Albe mixes poetic.

They're doing it in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami. . . in Delray Beach, not so much. A new generation of--don't call them "bartenders," call them "mixologists"--is flavoring their own spirits, making their own infusions and syrups and garnishes, creating cocktails that go far beyond the usual "vodka-rocks" and assorted abominations that have defiled the holy martini.  

Just as Brian Albe and Brandon Belluscio gave the old-fashioned steakhouse a kick in the ass with their chic Cut 432 on Delray's Atlantic Avenue, now they're applying swift, creative foot to dull, boring cocktail posterior with a whole new roster of hand-made spirits and mixers assembled into a slate of inventive new drinks. 

I hung out with Brian at the bar awhile back and tasted my way through his handiwork, and I gotta tell ya, if anything can make serial drunkenness a spiritually uplifting activity, it's the cool stuff he's pouring.  

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Bill Citara
Left to right: Lady lavender, pumpkin spice vodka, jalapeno-pineapple margarita.
His fig vodka, made with dried black mission figs, is a kick in the pants, so figgy it's like it grew in bottles in a fig orchard. He plans to serve it with a slice of crispy prosciutto as a sort of appetizer-cocktail combo. For a little seasonal head-clearing, he's got a pumpkin-spice vodka that tastes like pumpkin pie with a right cross to the kisser; it's flavored with nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon and vanilla and is served with cubes of candied pumpkin. 

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Bill Citara
Did somebody say bacon?
That's nothing, at least until you check out his bacon-infused vodka, a marriage of pork and booze that will have you drinking your breakfast and passing out before lunch. If you ignore the fact that it's 80 proof, you'd swear you were smelling and tasting bacon fresh out of the skillet. The way it works, Brian explained, is you cook off a bunch of bacon, put it and all the drippings in a jar with some vodka, then jam the thing in the freezer for a couple of hours until the fat solidifies and you can scrape it off. Defrost, strain and serve. Amazing shit. Look for it in a Bloody Mary, though I'm trying to convince him to use it in a Ramos Fizz, so you can drink your bacon and eggs. 

He's got plenty more ideas for infused spirits too, from buttered popcorn rum and cigar-flavored bourbon to spiced pear tequila and strawberry-basil-infused gin.  It's not just wacky-ass infusions either. He's got some killer new cocktails even I would order, and I think anyone who puts anything other than gin, vermouth and an olive in a martini should have his nuts crushed into an ashtray. My fave is the cucumber cosmo, so goddamn good even that horse-faced old Sarah Jessica Parker can't ruin it for me. It's gin, Cointreau, white cranberry juice and cucumber "water," which you make by shredding a buttload of cucumbers and hanging them in cheesecloth to drip out their liquid.  

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Bill Citara
Cuke cosmo: eat that, Sarah Jessica Parker.
I also really like the "Lady Lavender," a blend of vodka, grapefruit juice and club soda, with house-made lavender syrup and grenadine. And the margarita with pineapple juice and jalapeno-spiked tequila ain't too shabby either. And I shouldn't leave without mentioning the house-made maraschino and ass-kicking brandied cherries. 

Hand-made booze. Hip cocktails. A cool bar. In Delray.  

Who'da thunk it?


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