Name: Steven Aigner
Location: Newburgh, NY
Profession: Mixologist / Bar Manager
Establishment: The River Grill
Years in the Industry: 5
Q & A:
How long have you been involved within the bartending and mixology community?
I’ve worked in the restaurant industry since I was 15 years old. I started as busser at River Grill and worked my up to bartending by the time I was 20. I’ve now been behind the stick for 5 years. In the last 2 years is when I really started to make headway and focus on really getting into creating different drinks to incorporate into our cocktail program.
Tell us about your experience with The River Grill thus far and what separates their cocktails from the rest.
My experience at River Grill has been great. It’s the place where I started, I left briefly last June and worked until September at Liberty Street Bistro in Newburgh helping them start their bar program. When I came back in September of 2017, I was made the manager and the head bartender. What separates our drinks from the other restaurants in the area is that everything we use is made in house; syrups, purées, anything that I can make – I will. We also try and use liqueurs you don’t typically see places in the area doing anything with..
How have you applied your knowledge from your past and current experiences to help others succeed at The River Grill as the bar manager?
What I’ve learned from trial and error are things I always pass along when I’m training a new person to bartend. Just different techniques that make things quicker and more efficient. I also like to make sure that even if it may not be a drink on our list, you can still make it. I always push the classic recipes and mastering how to make them on new bartenders. We know our drinks are great but when you can get someone to compliment you on a Cosmo, Old Fashioned, or a Manhattan, that’s when you know you’re doing things right.
How have you applied your style as a mixologist to blend with such a diverse place like NY?
New York is a very diverse place with people from all over. Especially in the Hudson Valley. A lot of the people in the area aren’t from the area. So the way I’ve adapted that to my style is trying to showcase the actual flavors of the area itself. Coming into the fall we use a lot of local apples and pears to bring a seasonal look to the drink list that shows what the Hudson Valley has to offer. I try and update the cocktails and change menus every month or two to keep up with the fresh ingredients from the area and how I can really blend those flavors with the spirits behind the bar.
Photography courtesy of John Pugh.
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