Reynolds, who tends bar at Black Market and Lovers of Today, has had a long journey to New York. The Nebraska native worked in low-profile Vancouver watering holes for years, building furniture as a side job. But he got tired of mixing G&Ts, and moved to the city two years ago. Reynolds, who only goes by one name, still makes movables. But his deepest interest will always be cocktails — even though he doesn’t drink.
With mixology —
I actually hate the term “mixology.” It seems a bit prententious to me. I feel like it’s a title that some people will take and throw around very loosely. I like the classic kind of bartender — not mixologists. It doesn’t need to be a different title, a different class. Either you know how to make good drinks, or you don’t.
So do you know how to make good drinks?
[Laughs.] Oh goodness. It’s a lot of trial and error. It’s a lot of taking classics and trying them with new twists. If you know how to cook food, and you know what flavors go well together as far as when you go to a restaurant, I just kind of take that method into making a drink — putting different flavor profiles together and new and interesting things, like infusing a bourbon with blood orange or infusing a gin with lemongrass.
Go on …
They are two new drinks that I am really happy about. One of them is called Who Loves the Sun, which is a Velvet Underground song — and all of our cocktails at Black Market and Lovers are named after songs. This cocktail has blood-orange-infused bourbon with lemon, honey, and angostura bitters. It comes out with this really nice, dark color with a light-orange foam on the top — it looks like the sun!
And the gin drink?
The lemongrass-infused Plymouth gin — it comes with yellow chartreuse, lemon juice, and an egg white, so it comes out really bright white and foamy. Then it ends up turning into a nice yellow color, so the name of that cocktail is called Yellow.
How did you wind up with the Black Market gig?
I moved out to New York. A friend of mine from back home, from Nebraska, was already working with Black Market. I met the management through the mutual friend, and we hit it off. They needed somebody to do drinks for their bars, and it worked out that I was the person for the job.
You make furniture in your off-time. How’s that related to bartending?
I started off bartending at a shitty dive bar and just really got sick of making gin and tonics. I wanted to do something more interesting. Since I build furniture, I like to work with my hands. I like to see things created. I like to see things built — that’s what you do as a bartender.
More on the furniture. How did you get into that?
I really like to do screen prints on fabric and then paste them to a chair, couch, or an individual piece of furniture, so it’s like an art piece. I really like when I can get creative.
Since you don’t drink, you don’t have a go-to cocktail. What about a favorite piece of furniture?
That would be a rocking chair. I want to learn how to build a rocking chair. They’re just classic — they’re very very difficult to make, all the whittling with the wood. I just like their look. I want to be able to sit on my front porch and sit on my rocking chair.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on November 23, 2011