Yusef Austin is a native New Yorker since 1998. He worked his way up from bartending at The Mercer Kitchen to opening New York’s sexiest bar, The Boom Boom Room, under Andre Balazs. Yusef’s signature drinks were an instant hit, becoming the best selling cocktails on the menu.
Yusef launched The Cocktail Architect to share his spirit and beverage innovation with the world. He now consults for hospitality brands including Chefs Club, Landry’s Inc., and Hotel Esencia. Yusef also delivers spirits education as Brand Ambassador for Elit by Stoli and Tres Papalote Mezcal. He is often referred to as a “Rockstar Mixologist” by Colin Cowie and has fueled Cowie’s parties and guests for every type of event all over the world, from London to Gstaad, to Florence and South Africa.
How did The Cocktail Architect start?
The Cocktail Architect started with a few private gigs in Manhattan, from a small group just wanting to have sick drinks to a famous musician on the West Side wanting a special night for his wife and friends. It was literally all word of mouth, which to this day still fuels our business.
Are all of your recipes original?
Every single recipe is original. I take inspiration from nature, art, architecture, music, food and travel. Granted, we all are influenced by people we admire and libations of special interests, but, with that said, each recipe is entirely original.
Where do you find inspiration, and how do you know what liquors and mixers will compliment one another?
While working in the industry, I’ve offered consulting services to bars, conceptualized menu design for restaurants, and represented many spirit companies as a Brand Ambassador. All of these opportunities enabled me to combine a lot of spirits and mixers to make amazing cocktail menus, whether it was for a bricks and mortar or a private affair.
What are your top 5 tips for making cocktails?
- Use fresh juices (daily). It’s a game changer, which is why it’s at the top of the list.
- Go into your pantry and look at all the spices you have. USE THOSE!
- Experiment constantly.
- Take chances. Don’t go the generic or commercial route, and don’t play it safe.
- You need contrast flavor wise, color wise, garnish wise!!!
Is there a general rule of thumb that you follow for measurements?
YES! 2 oz. booze, 3/4 oz. fresh citrus, 1/2 oz. sweetener/enhancer, then any chilis, salts or herbs that you want to add as a garnish or into the drink itself.
How many bottles of liquor do you usually recommend purchasing for an event?
You can get 12 drinks out of a 750ml bottle. If you want 100 cocktails, you would need to purchase 8 bottles. I usually make 3 cocktails for an event.
How does it vary per guest count?
I guestimate 30% of all guests will drink that one drink. Give or take a little 🙂
What are the must-have beverages to properly stock a home bar?
Tequila, Mezcal, Gin, Whiskey, Bourbon, Rum, Vodka. Then, bitters, sweeteners (agave, simple syrup, honey syrup), nice olives, great citrus for twists, a plethora of salts, and specialty ice.
If you had to choose only one cocktail to drink for a year straight, which one would you choose?
A perfectly made Margarita with a beautiful salt rim!!!
I’m eagerly anticipating the release of your new product line! What can you tell us about your cocktail kits?!
Our Cocktail Kits contain 1 x 250 ml. shaker set with a jigger and bar spoon. We’ll also offer 3 x 2oz. artisanal syrups/enhancer bottles that will be for sale on our website, as well as exquisite handmade garnishes to compliment the cocktails that we’ll shake together, and a recipe card with cocktails that reflect the season and theme you want to have for your shaking and stirring party.
The Cocktail Kits will be ready on March 1st and can be purchased on our website!
If you were to leave us with something to think about, what would it be?
We’ve been thrown into a 360 spin of our entire lives due to the pandemic. Socializing, celebrating and communion have all been taken away from us, BUT, with our cocktail hours, we can foster a sense of community and enjoy quality time together, at least through a screen.
If we can put people, friends, colleagues and family together, that would be our greatest accomplishment through these rough times. I look forward to seeing everyone on the other side ASAP. Happy New Year, and may positivity and health be amongst us all.
To learn more about The Cocktail Architect, click here.
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