What do you do when you have degrees in music performance and theory, but need to make extra money post-graduation?
If you’re Steven Dragun, you start bartending. Music took him from Chicago to the U.K., then back to New York where he has distinguished himself as an adventurous mixologist, holding the roles of Whiskey Guardian for Angel’s Envy, Consulting Ambassador for Lustau sherry, and National Director for Chilled magazine’s own CHILLED 100 ambassadorship program. Dragun has numerous favorite spirits, but the new Bacardi Reserva line has won him over.
When Dragun creates drinks, he often finds himself thinking like a musician.
“After a few years behind the stick, I started experimenting with craft cocktails,” he recalls, “and after a year or so of playing mad scientist, I realized I was using my musical training to give direction to my cocktail creations.”
Concepts like atmosphere, balance, texture, and structure began to find their way into my drinks. Now, when I’m composing my own music, I always ask myself “would this make a good cocktail?”
Dragun finds that life in New York City offers the ideal balance between his evolution as a musician and as a bartender. In fact, he wears both hats equally, noting,
“Although the beverage industry takes up a lot of my time, I’m still actively pursuing my career as a performer and artist. I moved to NYC to write and perform my work, but after success as a bartender, I have found myself mixing both worlds together.”
Indeed, Dragun is as much a bartender as a musician these days, having won the 2014 US Calvados Nouvelle Vogue Trophy (for which he was sent to Normandy to compete internationally), as well as being a finalist in BULLDOG Gin’s Modern Gin & Tonic competition sponsored by CHILLED. These accolades make him an ideal candidate to concoct two inspiring Bacardi cocktails for the holiday season.
Dragun is a strong supporter of the new Maestro and Ocho bottling, citing their versatility.
“Bartenders are always looking for products that can be used across the board,” he observes, “and I believe Bacardi has captured this concept very nicely.”
That’s music to our ears.
- 1 oz. Bacardi Ocho
- 1/2 oz. Angel’s Envy Bourbon
- 1/2 oz. Nonino Gioiello
- 1/2 oz. Giffard Banane du Bresil
- 1/4 oz. Fidencio Classico Mezcal
- 2 dashes Bittermens Orange Cream Citrate
- 1 dash St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram
- 1 pinch Cayenne Salt (5:1 salt to cayenne pepper)
Preparation: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass. Add ice, stir, and strain into a chilled coupe glass. Express a lemon twist over the glass and discard peel. Garnish with
A Walk Through the Garden
- 1 1/4 oz. Bacardi Maestro
- 3/4 oz. Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur
- 1/2 oz. Liquore Strega
- 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
- 2 dashes Bob’s Coriander Bitters
- 1 piece Green Bell Pepper
Preparation: Muddle piece of bell pepper in a mixing glass. Add rest of ingredients, add
ice, and shake. Double strain over ice into a white wine glass. Garnish with a flaming rosemary sprig.