Steve Mazzuca can trace his passion for serving fresh, scratch-made concoctions bursting with both flavor and craft, back to visiting his Grandmother, Josephine.

“She would cook everything from fresh ingredients, picked right from her backyard in New Jersey and make the most remarkable Sicilian dishes ever plated.”

Building a bartending mission on that early foundation, he’s currently the owner and general manager of Mister French NYC. A hip, modern spin on the French grub spearheaded by the celebrity chef David Burke, it features an expansive menu of 30 original cocktails. “Our overarching goal with the beverage program is to bring something to our guests that they can’t get anywhere else,” says Mazzuca, the menu’s chief architect, alongside beverage director Elvis Rosario and head bartender Sebastian Dean. As such, the “ornate” ingredients he employs boasts “a level of depth that covers all sensory perspectives.”

Cocktail Trio from Mister French

Cocktail Trio from Mister French

Photo by Michael Stears

That depth not only includes freshly squeezed juices daily, but house-made organic sugars including Cane, Pear and Saffron, Demerara Cinnamon & Clove, Apple, Lavender & Peppercorn, all weighed out and basically made into a tea. “We use fresh herbs and fruit until we get a nice extraction, and use a 2:1 ratio with sugar and water,” explains Mazzuca who also batches Mr. French’s highest selling cocktails. That includes the Velours de Whiskey, made with a seemingly never-ending list of ingredients, including giffard banane du brésil liqueur and multiple walnut bitters.

La Vie En Rose Cocktail from Mister French

La Vie En Rose

Photo by Michael Stears

Another stand-out cocktail Mazzuca developed in his intense experimentation is the Confit Sour, which infuses the rich flavors of duck fat into Remy 1738 Accord Royal Cognac. “You render the duck fat and pour into a mason jar with the cognac and let it sit overnight so all the flavors are macerated together bringing a nice umami texture and flavor,” Mazzuca says of the process, which is followed by freezing the mixture for about 12 hours. “The fat will then harden and rise to the top of the liquor. At that point since it is in a solid form we can remove the duck fat and strain out the cognac into another bottle for use.”

Steve Mazzuca, smiling behind bar, black and white

Steve Mazzuca

Photo by Michael Stears

“In my humble opinion, the menu should be a production of creativity, balanced with an innovative and edgy imagination that brings along an individual artistry and story conveyed in every single cocktail,” says Mazzuca, who’s always open to experimentation. “Needless to say, I do keep a long list of ideas to go back to when it is time for research and development.”