In the second of the Bacardi Gran Reserva series on holiday gifting advice for the trade, CHILLED continues to tap into the New York talent pool for the brand’s new expressions, Maestro and Ocho.

Far and away the chosen stomping ground for many a talented mixologist, the city offers seemingly limitless venues both new and established where a novice bartender can earn his chops while perfecting an adventurous mixing style. We recently visited with one of the newest members of the CHILLED 100, Cliff Mejia, on-site at Kingsley, just opened in Manhattan’s East Village. Cliff typifies the new breed of young up and comers – confident and secure in their skills yet possessed of an easygoing and relaxed attitude about hospitality when the lights are being dimmed and the bar begins to hum.

Chilled 100 Mixologist Cliff Mejia

Chilled 100 Mixologist Cliff Mejia

Perhaps his effortless ease derives from his tenure. In high school Cliff Mejia started working as a busboy, eventually moving behind the bar. He’s stayed there ever since. Formerly at Analogue, a craft cocktail mainstay in Greenwich Village where he started the bar program, he’s now overseeing things at Kingsley with cocktails that focus on local, market-driven ingredients. For him, balance in a cocktail is everything, an idea he honed under the tutelage of renowned bartender/owner Dushan Zaric of Employees Only and Macao.

Cliff is the co-founder of Bar Theory, a bar consulting company based in NYC and is thrilled to be part of the CHILLED 100. He was a regional winner for the 2016 Bacardi Legacy competition, no small feat considering the level of competition. Given his deftness with Bacardi rums, it’s no surprise that Mejia would create drinks that offer elegance in the form of variations on a rum sour. The first is the simple, but well considered Amor de Pear and second, Catalunya’s Companion, which exhibits great depth of flavor by marrying the Maestro rum with sherry, liqueur, and amaro.

As Mejia notes, “Bacardi Maestro brings a light and refreshing character to a drink, whereas Ocho elevates a cocktail to a rich, more dimensional level.”

Whether using Maestro or Ocho, Mejia demonstrates the versatility of Bacardi’s newest offerings in these cocktails that reflect the flavors of the season.

Amor de Pear

Amor de Pear

Amor de Pear

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz. Bacardi Maestro
  • 1 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz. Sage Syrup*
  • 1 Piece Pear

Preparation: Muddle the piece of pear in a mixing glass. Add rest of ingredients, add ice, and shake for 8-10 seconds. Pour over ice into a rocks glass and garnish with a slice of pear.

*Sage Syrup Recipe

Add 5 sage leaves to 4 cups of 1:1 simple syrup. Let it sit over night and strain out the sage leaves.

Catalunya's Companion

Catalunya’s Companion

Catalunya’s Companion

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz. Bacardi Ocho
  • 1/2 oz. Lustau Deluxe Cream Capataz Andres Sherry
  • 1/4 oz. Combier Crème de Peche
  • 1/4 oz. Amaro Montenegro
  • 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 oz. Simple Syrup

Preparation: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice and shake for 8-10 seconds. Double strain into a chilled couple glass and garnish with an orange twist and cherry.