Jason Kosmas might possibly be the busiest man in the bar business. He still has a stake in Employees Only in New York, which has been named the best bar in the world; he is also the executive beverage director at Village Marquee in Highland Park Village and occasionally lends himself out to consult on drink menus. Now the talented barman is introducing his own line of spirits and they hit the shelves local Sigel’s liquor stores this week. We caught up with Kosmas last evening to sample some of his new rum and vodka.
“This is something I have wanted to do for a long time. First we thought we would open a bar, then write a book, have our own line of mixers and then come out with a line of spirits. And it has all happened,” said Kosmas.
The book Kosmas refers to is Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined written by himself and Dushan Zaric. They are both partners at the namesake bar in New York’s West Village, and this partnership extends not only through the bar but in the other ventures Kosmas is tied to including their own line of grenadine and bloody Mary mix under the Employees Only label.
The line of spirits are on the shelves and soon will be available at better bars everywhere and includes Aylesbury Duck Vodka and Cana Brava Rum. The other two spirits which will be available in August of 2012 are Fords Gin and Tequila Cabeza.
We sampled both the rum and vodka in a few cocktails Kosmas made for us and was particularly fond of the rum which is aged three years and made from molasses. Makes the best daiquiri and mojito I have ever had. It is kin to the old Cuban-style rums which no longer can be found in the US.
“This is like the old school Cuban rum which you can’t get anymore,” said Kosmas, “it is 86 proof and makes the best daiquiri I have ever had.”
The vodka is made using winter wheat in Canada. It is smooth but has enough character and natural flavor to accentuate the cocktail.
The bottling was of particular interest to Kosmas. As he described, this brand was made with the bartender in mind and the pour needed to be ergonomically correct and was tested using various bartender’s advice. The label and look of the two products are as serious as the contents.
We will share a few cocktails and their recipes later in the week as the first bar takes delivery of the vodka and rum.