When a mixologist creates a cocktail, it turns from a delicious drink into a work of art…with some added benefits. Bergen County is home to a number of mixologists who are taking classic cocktail creations to the next level. If you’re looking for a special night out, check out what some of Bergen’s best mixologists are stirring – and shaking – up at a restaurant near you.
Beverage Manager John Kloehn hails from London, and infuses his European experiences into his current bartending style. Using traditional cocktails as the building blocks to the menu at Osteria Crescendo, Kloehn highlights seasonal classics by elevating the flavors and ingredients. On the menu for spring? Drinks that transport you, such as the tropical Tiki-themed menu for June, which takes classic cocktails such as the Negroni and transforms them into Tiki-influenced variations. Or, check out their upcoming “Down to Earth” flight featuring St. George Spirits that highlight natural ingredients. 36 Jefferson Ave., Westwood
Head mixologist Pete Duca is totally OK with being called a liquor geek, as he’s fine-tuned his expertise in the spirits world over that past 11 years. To build the cocktail menu at Let’s Meat, Duca uses seasonal flavors, fresh homemade ingredients and artisanal liquors that appeal to all types of drinkers. A favorite of his is the Smok’N’ Root 4 barrel aged cocktail. This unique drink combines sour cherry root beer shrub with bourbon barrel aged vanilla and bourbon. The ingredients are put into an oak barrel that is smoked in-house with hickory and cherry wood and aged for 90 days, and served in a wood-smoked glass. Check out their upcoming Rosé brunch on June 27th and wine dinner on June 30th. 625 Rivervale Rd., River Vale
Bar manager Dave Nguyen, who started as a bartender, has helped to build a skilled team of bartenders, each bringing a certain creativity and technicality to create balanced cocktails -- both off the menu and “dealer’s choice.” This team effort showed strength dating back to 2018, with the creation of the Miso Smashed cocktail. Inspired by a cocktail that used a shiitake mushroom infusion, Nguyen worked with his team at the time to eventually develop the drink that still lives on the menu today: bourbon, spiced pear liqueur, miso, ginger, lime and simple syrup. Sofia’s mixology philosophy of having bartenders create drinks and tweak them with the team remains. 36 Engle St., Englewood
Bar Manager Michael Stroganoff’s original and elegantly-created cocktail list takes some of the classics to the next level by using unique, out-of-the-box ingredients. Some of these include muddled garden sage in the “Sage Haven,” CBD oil in the “Complex But Delicious,” and egg white foam in “The Emerald.” The menu changes by the season to complement the seasonal ingredients used in their dishes, so be sure to look out for some summery additions. 86 Spring Valley Rd., Park Ridge
Venturing out on his own after COVID hit, Drew transitioned from bartending at a restaurant to working for himself doing private event bartending. He works with clients to create a signature cocktail, as well as extra ingredients for surprise requests. Drew’s spicy margarita, which uses jalapeño-infused tequila, is the most requested cocktail, as well as variants using fresh fruit juices and purees, such as mango, strawberry and seasonal blood orange. Want to get into the mix? Drew also offers zoom and in-person cocktail classes, plus pre-packaged drinks you can mix up when the mood strikes. email@example.com
No French brasserie is complete without a thoughtfully created, beautiful list of cocktails, and Brasserie Mémère is no exception. From elegant classics such as the French Martini and Habanero Margarita to summery creations such as the Purple Rain (soju lychee calipico, butterfly pea flower) and Jungle Bird (rum, campari, pineapple juice and lime), the cocktail list pairs perfectly with the French dishes. The pièce de résistance, however, are the super cool frosé and frozen negroni. 107 Vervalen St., Closter
The handcrafted cocktail menu created by expert mixologists at LT Bar & Grill reflect Michelin Star Chef Laurent Tourondel’s menu of innovative American cuisine and sushi. Popular drinks include Rum Punch (Bacardi, brugal 1888, pineapple, grapefruit, lime and nutmeg) and the LT Spritzer (gin/vodka, lemo, giffard crème de violette). 390 Hackensack Ave., Hackensack