Industry Insiders: Darryl Robinson, Dr. Mixologist
Over on our Mixology site in the Pros section, we asked the hottest bartenders in New York and Los Angeles to whip up a specialty cocktail while describing their perfect New Year’s Eve. Check out Darryl Robinson — a.k.a. “Dr. Mixologist” — as he creates the Hudson Pear at his home base of NYC’s Hudson Bar. Here he tells us about cruising the NYC bar scene and his preference for beautiful people, clothes, and cocktails in combination.
What do you do? What do you drink? I’m a bartender and also the in-house mixologist, so I helped create the cocktail list that you’ll see at the Hudson Bar. I also entertain the guests at the bar with my wonderful bartending skills. I am by nature a vodka drinker. I realized earlier on that it was probably one of those things that didn’t give me a hangover. Vodka is simple, it’s easy, and it’s clean. I like vodka martinis and vodka on the rocks with a squeeze of lemon, vodka on the rocks with a splash of cranberry. I don’t really like to put too much in there, so anything I add is usually a splash. I never want to cover up the taste of vodka too much.
How did you get your start? It goes back to days when I wasn’t even bartending. At home we had a full-sized bar. My parents would entertain an awful lot, and to keep me out of trouble, they would let me actually mix the drinks behind the bar for their guests. I wasn’t going to go to sleep; I was just going to get into trouble anyway, so they figured behind the bar, they knew where I was. I was 10 or 11 years old.
Name three restaurants/bars/clubs you frequent when you’re not working. I prefer lounges. I’m not the club type. One of my favorite lounges right now is Apothéke, down in Chinatown. I like it because of its ambience and atmosphere. They don’t necessarily have name-brand liquors. They make and infuse their own in-house versions, so I like their creativity. You know you may not like everything, but that’s OK. What I do like is that they take a risk and a chance, and they serve a fickle New York City market items that they cannot recognize. I love Bar 89, which is often a spot I will hit before I go to Apothéke. It’s only a couple of blocks away. I go to Cafeteria late at night after I get off work because it’s still open. And most of the people are coming there after they clubbed — and I don’t want to sound shallow, but I do like beautiful people, so I love going where people are dressed, and they’re beautiful to look at, and they have style.
What is your guiltiest pleasure? When I get home at 5 or 6 o’clock in the morning, I generally keep anywhere from around 12-14 pints of Haagen Dazs ice cream in my freezer. I’ll sit there at 6 o’clock in the morning and eat that, and maybe pour a little Baileys Irish Cream on top of it for that extra little decadent kick.
What is the worst (most disgusting, worst request, etc.) cocktail you’ve ever had to make? I think it’s a sacrilege to mix Johnnie Walker Blue or Louis XIII with Coke. I won’t do it. I’ll put your Coke and Louis XII bottle in front of you and ask you to do it yourself. I will not physically mix a $200-a-shot cognac with Coke. What’s the worst pick up line you’ve ever heard while tending bar? Ever witness any amazing hook ups? There are so many. I’ve made a cosmopolitan for a lady, and a guy comes up to her and says, “Your lips are as pretty and pink as that cosmopolitan.” I didn’t know where that was going to get him.
What celebrity (dead or alive) would you like to share a drink with at your bar? Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Bill Clinton.
What’s your ideal barhopping night in New York/LA? It probably gets started around 9 o’clock, so I’ve had a really nice dinner first. I probably hydrated with a lot of water. Now I’m really ready to go out, spending no more than an hour at each bar. I would probably want to be in a more trendy area, so I’m probably going to go to the Meatpacking District, Soho, or Tribeca. I want them to be loungey bars. Intimate lighting. Not necessarily romantic but intimate. I love candles. I’m probably going to be with three or four friends. Then we have a table, but not necessarily bottle service, but with the option to walk between the bar and the table. And just enjoy really nice music. And I want to be looking at beautiful people enjoying wonderful drinks.
What are you doing tonight? I’m bartending at the Hudson Bar. Using 3 out of 5 of the following ingredients make me a dream cocktail: grenadine, pepper, tequila, avocado, lemongrass. I’m going to take the tequila, take the avocado, and take the pepper. I’m going to add lemon and lime to that. I’m going to add simple syrup, which is basically your sugar solution to sweeten the cocktail, and I’m also going to add pineapple juice. With that we’re going to make an avocado margarita, and the pepper would only be a dash because I want it to have a little bit of a kick. We’re going to muddle the avocado, add the syrup, lime, and lemon juice, and a dash of pepper. The pineapple is going to help smooth it out … put it on ice, shake that bad boy up, and put it into a margarita glass.