We often speak about the cocktail scene in Dallas, and there are a handful of talented barmen that belong to the Bartending Guild that are cutting edge material. Rocco Milano is one of these barmen.
Milano is opening Private Social tonight with a private VIP party, and then to the public tomorrow. Milano started bartending near the Jersey Shore and quickly took a stint at Posada de Santiago in Guatemala, then moved to Santa Cruz where he was from originally.
“The bar in Santa Cruz was by the beach and essentially a biker bar. It was one of those places that serve dollar-fifty drafts and you are always wondering if this is the shift where you jump the bar and kick someone’s ass,” said Milano during a recent interview.
Milano eventually moved to Texas taking a job at the Winstar Casino before he was directed to the Mansion on Turtle Creek where he has been bartending until just a few weeks ago when he started up with the Private Social.
“I was approached by chef Tiffany, Patrick [Halbert] and Andy [Austin] the owners of Private Social and everyone was just too awesome to say no to. My first meeting went to well. They showed me some schematics and I could visualize the flow of traffic, and I think they dug that.”
“Then I met with chef and we really hit it off. I think it’s because we are both inspired by things from all over the world. Although I am really inspired by women. A lot of my cocktails are inspired by women and all have a story behind them,” continued Milano.
He shared with us a few of the cocktails that were so inspired, like the Guatemalan Shel named after a girl named Rachel he met in Guatemala. Then there was the woman at the Mansion. “Oh man, she was a hostess. Spanish and Irish mix with fiery red hair. I used to make her fruity drinks all the time, and when she finally resigned I was so distraught that I made a drink to commemorate her called the Bella Ruse, or the red lady,” said Milano.
Then there was the trip to China that inspired a drink loosely based on a legend from the Han Dynasty called the Smile of the Princess.
One of the last cocktails he mentioned is called the 7:15 to DFW that was concocted after a flight from New Orleans. Milano eyed a young lady that he felt this instant connection with. He was smitten but didn’t approach her and somehow knew she was a bartender. She is now stuff of legend in this magical libation.
Milano is still up to his tricks behind the bar, dehydrating Gran Marnier and Campari. The dehydration allows for an intense flavor burst in the cocktails, like the Italian Old Fashion that he made for us.
“If you can imagine the drink as a symphony, the Campari is a bitter note that is just playing along even after that symphony stops,” explains Milano.
One of the uses for the Gran Marnier is in his drink called Margarita Interrupted. He uses the dried liquor as a garnish on a two ounce shot glass with Patron Reprisado that he has muddled strawberries into with a tiny splash of 7 and finished with lime caviar that he also makes in-house. In essence this is a deconstructed margarita. He used the reprisado so that you do not have to shoot this drink, merely sip and enjoy the smoothness of the cocktail.
Private Social opens to the public Saturday and will immediately be serving both lunch and dinner. Be sure to meet Rocco Milano and his staff behind the bar.