PORTLAND, MAINE — Derek Watson moved to NYC years ago with the intent on bartending in a major market and making a name for himself. We caught up with him as he was bar hopping in his hometown during the holidays.
“Yeah, when I lived here 6 years ago, I mostly stuck to gin and soda. It’s nearly impossible to get a good cocktail here,” he told us as we met him at local institution Hunt & Alpine Club. “I’m craving a specific cocktail, let me see if I can coach them through it.”
Our bartender, who cut her teeth in London cocktail bar scene before moving to Maine, dropped the menus. The menu included 16 cocktails — 8 classics and 8 modern originals, including ingredients like clarified grapefruit juice and ISI rapid-infused coffee rum. The bartender approached us to take our order. Derek had not opened the menu.
“Hey, so I see you have Campari on the backbar. I assume you’ve heard of a Negroni? I want something similar but more refreshing. Do you have a pen? You’re going to need the gin and Campari, but also lemon and triple sec…”
The bartender smiled, wrote it down, then made a Jasmine cocktail based on the American Bar’s specs.