Yusef Austin, The Cocktail Architect

Yusef Donovan Austin


The Cocktail Architect

IG: @thecocktailarchitect

About Yusef

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.

The Cocktail Architect

What are your top 5 tips for making cocktails?

  1. Use fresh juices (daily). It’s a game changer, which is why it’s at the top of the list.
  2. Go into your pantry and look at all the spices you have. USE THOSE!
  3. Experiment constantly.
  4. Take chances. Don’t go the generic or commercial route, and don’t play it safe.
  5. You need contrast flavor wise, color wise, garnish wise!!!
Cocktail with flame

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.

Bar tools

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.

Tropical cocktail

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.

The Cocktail Architect

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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Valentine’s Day Cocktail Recipes

Expert mixologist Yusef Austin, AKA The Cocktail Architect, graced us once with three fabulous cocktail recipes (check out The Best Christmas Cocktails), and you liked it so much that we had to bring him back for more. Indulge in these three cocktail recipes designed to delight your senses this Valentine’s Day. Hopeless romantics, lovebirds and cocktail connoisseurs, this one’s for you.

Sweet Nothings

Sugar, spice and everything nice.

Ingredients: 2 oz. Gin, 1 oz. Fig Jam, 1/2 oz. Black Pepper + Star Anise Enhancer, 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

Garnish: Edible Flower

Add ice to your cocktail shaker, shake and double strain into a coupe glass.

Illustrated by Sarah Ditterline

Tall, Dark and Handsome

The perfect night cap.

Ingredients: 2 oz. Tequila Blanco Infused with Saffron Threads, 1 oz. Chilled Espresso, 1 oz. Dark Chocolate Enhancer, Pinch of Sea Salt

Garnish: Shaved Chocolate

Add ice to your cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a martini glass.

Illustrated by Sarah Ditterline


Cupid’s Cocktail.

Ingredients: 2 oz. Bourbon, 1 oz. Fresh Apple Juice, 1/2 oz. Fresh Ginger Juice, 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice, 1/2 oz. Szechuan Pepper Enhancer

Garnish: Dehydrated Lemon Wheel

Add ice to your cocktail shaker, shake and strain into a rocks glass.

Illustrated by Sarah Ditterline

Thank you Yusef Austin for sharing these Valentine’s Day Cocktail Recipes! To learn more about The Cocktail Architect, click here or click here to learn about his virtual mixology classes.

Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more from the Happy Hostess.

The Best Christmas Cocktails

Christmas cocktails are arguably the best cocktails. Alas, mixology is not my strong suit. So I asked an expert for his advice! Yusef Austin, AKA The Cocktail Architect, is a Brooklyn-based beverage genius. His emphasis on seasonal ingredients, quality, creativity, and taste generates sophisticated cocktails with a multi-sensory experience. Craft three of his staple Christmas cocktails at home by following the recipes below.

Merry and Bright

Cheerful with a zing.

Ingredients: 2 oz. Local Gin, Hibiscus Tea Mixer (Dried Hibiscus, Cinnamon Stick, Orange Zest, Crushed Cardamom, Cloves) and 3/4 oz. Meyer Lemon Juice

Garnish: Dehydrated Lemon Wheel

Shake and strain into a martini or coupe glass.

The Best Cocktail Recipes for Christmas

Santa, Baby

Christmas spice classic.

Ingredients: 2 oz. Local Whiskey, 1 oz. Chili Infused Honey, 1 oz. Orange + Lemon Juice Mix

Garnish: Orange Flamed Twist & Sphere Ice Cube

Shake and strain into a double rocks glass.

The Best Cocktail Recipes for Christmas

White Christmas

The perfect dessert cocktail.

Ingredients: 2 oz. Vodka, 1/2 oz. Tonka Bean + Vanilla Bean Mixer/Syrup, 1 oz. Chilled Espresso

Garnish: Whipped Cream, Grated Cinnamon

Shake and strain into a vintage cocktail glass.

The Best Cocktail Recipes for Christmas

A massive thank you to Yusef Austin for sharing these Christmas Cocktail Recipes! To learn more about The Cocktail Architect, click here or click here to learn about his virtual mixology classes.

Have a question about something specific? Ask it on my Q&A page!

Read more from the Happy Hostess.