When news broke that Audrey Saunders was pulling out of the cocktail bar, Tar Pit, she helped launch in Los Angeles, we asked her if she had any plans to open a new place in New York — perhaps something with a tropical theme, as is all the rage these days? She responded with a coy: “Why would we limit it to just New York?” but refused to elaborate. Could the cocktail maven (and owner of Pegu Club) be venturing out of the city once again? She’s keeping mum about it for now, but did respond to a few email questions about her plans for this weekend’s Manhattan Cocktail Classic.
What will you be doing for the Classic?
I’m hosting an afternoon session this coming Saturday at Pegu (as part of the Stories from Behind the Bar series) with Desmond Payne, the master distiller for Beefeater Gin.
At the risk of asking the obvious, is cocktail culture here to stay?
Unless the country attempts another “Noble Experiment,” yes, it’s definitely here to stay.
Speakeasies are everywhere these days. What would you like to see more of in the city’s bar scene?
Just the opposite. More bars that aren’t speakeasies. More bars where you can just walk in and get a great drink without the pomp and circumstance.
You helped revive people’s love of gin. And rum features heavily on the Tar Pit’s menu. What will be the next big drinking trend?
Bars with more fun, livelier atmospheres, where the drinks just happen to be wonderful.
Speaking of the Tar Pit, you hinted recently that you might be working on a new bar elsewhere. Is that in the works?
No comment at this time.
With such a focus on technique, some bartenders seem to be forgeting about connecting with the customer. How do you make sure your staff avoids this?
I only hire nice bartenders.
Where do you like to drink when you’re not at your own bar?
I don’t really have a regular hang outside of Pegu. Instead, I like to move around a lot.
What ingredients can we expect to see on Pegu’s list now that the weather is warming up?
Rum, apple, plum, watermelon.
Your go-to hangover cure?
Definitely an egg sandwich and ice-cold chocolate milk.