South African mixologist Jacques Bezuidenhout (go on, spell it!) has spearheaded events and slung cocktails for Food Network and Bravo for celebs like Padma Lakshmi and James Franco and brands such as Campari and Partida. Recently featured in Wall St. Journal for his skills, Bezu…. (oh let him tell you about his hard to pronounce name) chatted with us about all things alcoholic (and we mean that in a good way) and what he is currently serving at Lantao Social Club in Miami Beach:
What is the hot drink for summer?
The old classics like the Margarita and Mojito are not going anywhere just yet. I do see more bars adding a Pimm’s Cup to their list for the Summer. A very Classic English summertime drink of Pimm’s and Ginger Beer or lemon/lime soda with summer garnish like cucumber, mint and strawberries served tall and refreshing. What I love about the drink is that you can tweak it in various ways. You can give it a extra kick by adding Gin, Rum or Tequila. You can leave out the soda and finish it with Champagne for that elegant twist. If you have not had one yet this Summer then get to it.
We are a sweatbox in summer. Are summer cocktail choices different here?
I think each major city differs in what they drink in the Summer depending on what spirit style they lean towards. Miami loves Rum so you tend to see more Rum based summer drinks like the classic Daiquiri, Mojito or Rum Punches. The heat demands more tropical style refreshing cocktails. Miami is pretty vibrant so the drinks should be fun and attractive.
What makes “the perfect cocktail”?
Cocktails should be simple with fresh, quality ingredients that hit balanced taste points. Fresh herbs, housemade syrups and quality liquor. Most important is a perfect cocktail should want to make you crave another. Everyone has a particular palate and the “perfect cocktail” is what tastes perfect to you at that moment.
What is your personal favorite drink?
For me it is the Negroni. Three Ingredients. Campari, Gin and Sweet Vermouth. A Italian classic perfect for the summer. It has bright flavors and lots of complexity that prepares you for a night of good food and drink, which leads to happiness.
Your last name is interesting – how much do people misspell it?
Oh you have no idea, miss-spell and miss pronounce. You can see the fear on peoples faces when they have to call my name out. It’s quite funny and I have some good fun with it. It starts plenty of enjoyable conversations.
What is your favorite Miami bar?
That is a tough questions. Bars and Spirits are like kids to me – it is almost impossible to choose your favorite. For cocktails my favorite bar was the Florida Room. An awesome place to get a hand crafted cocktail with great music and a really fun atmosphere. Now that the original Florida Room is closed I have to be a bit biased and say Lantao Social Club. The new Social Club is a beautiful spot to find handcrafted fresh cocktails using quality ingredients with a nod to some very exciting South East Asian flavors and twists on classics. We have a Smoking Maguey that is a riff on the margarita, but with mescal and served straight up with a smoked paprika rim. If it is just a beer and a shot I am looking for then Clarke’s is the place to get a pint of Guinness and a shot of Red Breast.