Bartender Q&A: The Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim on Pairings, Negronis, and Adventurous Females

Categories: The Verbal Nosh

What is your favorite place to drink after work?
Petrossian Lounge at the Bellagio

What's the best pick-up line you've heard at the bar?
How was your day?

The worst?
Does your face hurt because it's killing me

If someone comes in and orders a ______, you instantly think ______ about them.
A glass of Mezcal...they have taken the journey, or they work behind the stick.

Biggest pet-peeve while working?
Arrogance and being sloppy

Who is your favorite local mixologist? Any why?
Laura at Clarke's, she gets it and she is the consummate host

If I wasn't a mixologist, I would be a ______.
A fireman or a pro hockey player, so I'm pretty sure that means I would be a fireman

Favorite kind of bar customer?
Adventurous, patient, appreciative, female

Least favorite kind of bar customer?
Loud and obnoxious, demanding and unappreciative, one who has never worked in the service industry.

If you could make a drink for anyone, who would it be? And which drink do you think would suit them?
I would love to make my dad a cocktail. All I ever served him at the Brass Rail was beer, I'd like to make him a Negroni, see if I inherited my love of that cocktail from him, that would be special.

Favorite thing about mixology?
To me it is and always has been the interaction and relationships with my guests, after all, we are in the hospitality business, mixology is just a small part of the equation.

What do you look for when pairing cocktails with food?
Contrast, look to pair acidity with fat; texture, something rich and full bodied with something sharp;  Something briny and salty with something creamy and viscous.

Is it easier to pair spirits or mixed cocktails with foods?
Depends. There is a reason Margaritas are a safe choice with Mexican food, contract. With foods from Eastern Europe, caviar, smoked and pickled fish, dried meats, pickled vegetables; these lend themselves beautifully to pair with vodka.

You just wrote a book about vodka, Vodka Distilled: The Modern Mixologist on Vodka & Vodka Cocktails. And you were a part of a vodka and caviar pairing during the weekend. What was your goal with the book and the event?
Creating an awareness that all vodkas are not the same and an understanding, that different vodkas, made from different raw materials will pair differently with a variety of foods. All of the dishes contained caviar and all one needs to do is experiment with three varieties of caviar paired with straight, ice cold from the freezer, glasses of vodka; say one made from rye, one from potato and the other from a mix of grains to experience how uniquely these two work together.



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