What’s shakin’, cocktail fans?
Welcome to episode 222 of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast! Thanks for joining us for this interview episode, where we track down the best and brightest minds in the spirits and cocktail world so that we can share their secrets with you.
This time around, we pull up a bar stool with Nicholas Bennett (@thenickb on Instagram). He’s the beverage director over at Porchlight – a New York bar with a southern accent. Nick has seen it all in the New York hospitality scene, and in this interview, we talk about his archipelagic journey through the enchanted isles of many far-flung beverage programs, as well as his use of puppets and Legos to playfully educate people about spirits and cocktails.
In this wide-ranging conversation with Porchlight Beverage Director Nicholas Bennett, some of the topics we discuss include:
Nick’s journey from a beer & shot bar near Montauk to a supper club in Brooklyn, and on through some of the most legendary beverage programs in Manhattan, including Booker & Dax and Amor y Amargo.
How making his mom’s friend the worst cocktail she’d ever had, kick-started an epic journey into education, experimentation, and creativity that has defined his upward trajectory in the hospitality business.
Why Nick has miniaturized himself with lego figurines and a puppet named Bennett, and how these avatars figure into the way Nick goes about educating and creating enthusiasm around cocktail trends he cares about.
Of course, we also talk about the fantastic beverage program at Porchlight, which is a Union Square Hospitality Group venue. It’s a place where Nick has been able to experiment with lots of fun riffs on drinks from the cocktail dark ages, and he’s excited to share with us what’s on tap for 2022.
Along the way, we explore why Nick is a Blue Curacao apologist, the Proustian memory of his great-aunt’s shaken Manhattan with spoiled vermouth, who one might encounter when questing for the Underberg of Destiny and the Centrifuge of Truth, and much, much more.
Not only is this interview a fun core sample into the rise of the cocktail renaissance in New York, but it also sheds light on how great programs like Porchlight are emerging from the pandemic ready to greet guests once again. Nick is a fantastic role model for anyone who values creativity, nerdy passion, and a good sense of humor. And, if you happen to be a hospitality professional in New York, there’s some information toward the end of the interview that might be interesting for you.