Can you ever take a cook out of the kitchen?
If you speak with top mixologist Lana Gailani, you quickly realize that by discovering a whole new world of flavors, she was handed a canvas primed for expression; moving to another genre was just one small step toward creating her masterpiece.
Lana is relatively new to the playing field at just under 3 years behind the bar and she didn’t exactly follow the path of least resistance, doing things (in her words) backwards. Abandoning her graduate studies in pastry making and fine dining, she moved to New York in 2011 and quickly discovered beverages, working as a sommelier on the opening team of the Michelin–starred Hakkasan. There she began to learn more about the world of spirits and in a short two years was behind the bar at the agave-focused Empellon Cocina. It proved to be a challenging way to learn how to bartend since only a single spirit could be used. But her “som” sensibilities paid off in the end, letting her ability to truly taste a liquid define the mixing process.
Her fearless passion for adventurous mixing embodies the spirit of Bacardi Gran Reserva’s new expressions, Maestro and Ocho, and in the third of our series on holiday gifting advice for the trade Lana opened up about the path to mixology’s higher ground. She admits that her culinary background is a huge influence and that her savory work with pastry translated seamlessly to cocktails. She acknowledges that her inspiration often derives from the kitchen and places a strong emphasis on texture. She employs what she calls a “green” flavor profile and is a wizard at devising complex concoctions that likewise beguile the lucky patrons at Pouring Ribbons on Manhattan’s lower East side and at Seamstress on the Upper East.
Whether using Maestro or Ocho, Gailani demonstrates the versatility of Bacardi’s newest offerings in these cocktails that reflect a love of the culinary arts. In fact, after a single sip of her “The Long Way Home” after dinner, my walk a casa was painless.
The Long Way Home
- 1 1/2 oz. Bacardi Maestro
- 1/4 oz. Golden Moon Amer dit Picon
- 1/4 oz. Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur
- 3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
- 3/4 oz. Cranberry-Orange Cordial
- 1/2 oz. Rich Demerara Syrup (2:1)
- 2 Dashes Bittermens Xocolatl Mole Bitters
Preparation: Shake with ice, strain over crushed ice in Pilsner glass. Garnish with rosemary, cranberries, and cinnamon stick.
Combine 16 oz. Perfect Purée cranberry purée with 8 oz. orange cordial.
Peel 4 lemons and combine the peels with 24 oz. white sugar. Let sit overnight and then remove the peels. Add 20 oz. fresh orange juice and whisk until sugar is dissolved.
Carry a Torch
- 1 1/2 oz. Bacardi Ocho
- 1/2 oz. Lustau Don Nuño Oloroso Sherry
- 1/4 oz. Cynar
- 3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz. Pineapple Juice
- 3/4 oz. Maple Syrup
- 1 Egg White
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Preparation: Dry shake, add ice, shake again. Fine strain into chilled coupe and once the foam settles, torch / brûlée the top until browned and fragrant. Add cherry for garnish.
Note from the CHILLED Editors:
Your chance to meet the CHILLED 100’s Lana Gailani may be on the horizon. She and a team of bartenders will be recreating a pop-up bar at Von during New York Unofficial Bartender week on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 from 10 pm – 3 am. The loosely Asian-themed Maneki Bar will have free ramen, karaoke and of course, great cocktails. Proceeds along with t-shirt sales will benefit a no-kill animal shelter. Sounds like good fun!