What do you like to drink after a shift? “Miller High Life, which is the Champagne of beers.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “It has to be, of course, “Bohemian Rhapsody” but performed Wayne’s World-style.”
What drink should be banished and why? “None. Maybe the people who want to constantly banish booze should be banished. Different strokes for different folks. I try to make everyone’s experience in my bar as enjoyable as I can possibly make it to be, regardless of what they order. Now, you’ll never catch me ordering an Irish Car Bomb, because not only am I Irish, but I’m also not a complete asshole, but if you want to pay silly money for a silly drink, put the money in my till. Thanks!”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “Many moons ago, I endeavored to go on a ‘research’ mission in London, and after each drink I thought, now this one is my favorite. Getting to experience the bar-and-cocktail scene over there when I was starting out introduced me to incredible drinks and flavors. I also got to meet the very talented and creative people who were behind them.”
What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “The Bar Book, by Jeffrey Morgenthaler. This book is indispensable to those who are in the industry or who have a keen interest in learning the techniques to make a truly great drink. It’s something that I like to look back on and reference, and is even better to pass on to people starting out in the trade.”
What’s your favorite bottle of booze that costs less than $25? “Cocchi Americano, which even leaves enough change to buy some soda water and lemons!”
What’s your favorite bottle of booze that costs more than $100? “Green Spot Château Léoville Barton, which is the first ever single pot still Irish whiskey to be finished in ex-Bordeaux barrels. It’s absolute perfection! Just get yourself a bottle and some good cheese. You can thank me later.”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “A Negroni and some olives. Because I like to pour olive brine into my Negroni, I created the Sticks & Stones cocktail for the menu at my bar Underdog. It is a riff on a classic Negroni that includes my own brine mix, which is called Life of Brine, and is completed with Bombay Sapphire Gin, Cinzano Sweet Vermouth and Campari. Dirty Negronis are the way forward!”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “My Bacardi Legacy entry, the Electric Avenue, which is a simple combination of gold rum, pineapple and lime juices, and port. This cocktail is still selling in the thousands at major festivals around the world each year and that’s a bit crazy to be honest.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “Bring me to Swift Hibernian Lounge in New York on East 4th Street and the Bowery. Pour me a pint of Guinness and a shot of Powers Irish Whiskey.”
Conor Myers is the creative director at New York bar Underdog.
Interview has been condensed and edited.