As a young bartender in the ‘90s, Scott Beattie recognized a disconnect between the cocktails of the time (think Cosmos and Lemon Drops) and the true art of mixing drinks. After much research and experimentation, plus the good fortune of having the San Francisco Bay Area’s bounty in his back yard, Beattie arrived at his seasonal, local philosophy as the bar manager at Cyrus Restaurant. Beattie’s approach – freshly-made syrups and squeezed juices, seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as vibrant herbs – has helped take modern mixology to the next level, making it as much a culinary art as a learned craft. Having departed Cyrus, he currently runs Spoonbar in Healdsburg where he now explores the complexity of classic cocktails, giving them his own ingredient-driven twists.
01) What inspired your interest in cocktails?
My interest in cocktails was sparked by the Ginger Rogers at Absinthe back in 1999, a drink put on the menu by Marco Dionysos. (See my book for the long version of the story)
02) What was your first formative cocktail experience?
My first formative cocktail experience was when I snuck by the doorman into a grungy Mission District bar in SF at age 16 and I asked for what I thought would be an easy, adult sounding drink — a martini. The bartender asked, “what kind?” I had no idea, he was super busy and looked at me for an answer; I had none, and he just said “How old are you?” I got kicked out. Should have asked for a beer.
03) What is your all-time favorite mixed drink?
A Last Word. 3/4 Blade Gin, 3/4 Luxardo Maraschino, 3/4 Green Chartreuse, 1 oz lime.
04) Favorite place to drink?
Bourbon and Branch in San Francisco.
05) If you don’t know the bartender, what do you order?
I order a double bourbon rocks with a pilsner back.
06) If you could make any drink with the 12 Bottles, what would you make?
A slight variation of the Vieux Carré.
07) If you could replace any one bottle with another, what switch would you make? And why?
No Redbreast; I’d have Weller Reserve instead.
08) Outside of the 12 Bottles, what should people make an effort to try?
Mescal. Try Vida by Del Maguey – utterly magical as a replacement for gin in many old recipes (try a Last Word!).
09) If you could only have one mixed drink for the rest of your life, which would it be?
Beefeater Gin and Fevertree Tonic, with a squeeze of lime.
10) With whom (living, deceased, or fictional) would you like to most share a drink?
Lee Harvey Oswald. I’d sit his ass down and feed him whiskey until he ‘fessed up about whether he had help or not.
11) On which one item should the home bartender splurge?
Green Chartreuse. Not cheap, but the most complex of all liqueurs and irreplaceable in many cocktail recipes.
12) One piece of advice for the home bartender…
MEASURE ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING !!!!!
- From the 12BB Library: “Artisanal Cocktails” by Scott Beattie (12bottlebar.com)
- 12 Rounds With… Brian Rea (12bottlebar.com)