Spencer Elliott, head bartender at Bounce Sporting Club (55 West 21st Street; 212-675-8007 and 1403 Second Ave; 212-535-2183), loves winding down with a mezcal and grapefruit juice.
“Mezcal has that tequila bite, with the smokiness of a scotch,” he says. “After a long night of work, I don’t need to be knocked on my ass, so I like the addition of the fresh grapefruit and lime to give it a really citrusy taste.”
Elliott’s experience behind the stick started at a fist-pumping bar in Murray Hill. “It’s kind of where I learned to just be quick,” he says. The experience also helped him develop his personality when conversing with customers. Appreciating classic cocktails and drinks for their taste came a bit later.
At Vero Wine Bar as well as Bounce, Elliott learned the ins and outs of what to focus on to make a drink taste good. Increasing his knowledge of not only cocktails but wine, Elliott was able to add the finer points of bartending to his repertoire. “My progression with alcohol has been as scary as most people’s,” he says. “I started with rum, then to gin, then vodka; now I’m finally at the tequila stage. My palate has developed with my interest in craft cocktails.”
The hook of smokiness and tequila led Elliott to mezcal, for which he found a perfect partner in sweet grapefruit juice. “I love grapefruit,” he says. “Orange juice and pineapple juice are all great, but I feel like the citrus, the tart, the ruby redness, it’s a little sweeter — it’s an easy fruit juice to work with.”
Elliott also likes the tequila mule, and he enjoys grabbing drinks on the Upper East Side at the Gilroy and Infirmary.
Mezcal with Grapefruit Juice
by Spencer Elliott
2 oz mezcal (I use Ilegal)
2 oz Grapefruit Juice
splash of lime
For the version at Bounce Sporting Club, Elliott uses Ruby Red grapefruit juice and adds a house-made jalapeño syrup.
2 oz Don Julio blanco
1/2 oz lime
top with ginger beer