Interview with Phil Ward of Mayahuel

Photography by: Rahav Segev

Photography by: Rahav Segev

Mayahuel is completely dedicated to Tequila and Mezcal. While I never had the bad memories associated with it like most, I just never developed a taste for it. It was a spirit that did nothing for me. Mayahuel single-handedly changed my entire perception of Tequila. So today we chat with Phil Ward, Co-Owner and Beverage Director, of Mayahuel.

How did you become so interested in cocktails?
I stumbled into a busier barback position at Flatiron Lounge 6 weeks after they opened. Got curious, got obsessed, haven’t looked back.

What is your approach when it comes to formulating cocktails and what inspires you?
Its all about balance and templates. Every good cocktail is a blueprint for other good cocktails. What inspires me is a pretty cheesy question no offense. I like inventive and delicious things.

You mentioned that asking about your inspiration was a cheesy question. I find it fascinating though to find out what inspires bartenders to create drinks that reflect them as an individual. So to that affect how would you describe your style as a bartender? How do your drinks reflect you as an individual?
Your assuming drinks reflect an individual. Sorry to be a pain in the a– but I don’t know that is always true. Though if I had to say how my drinks reflected me as an individual (if they do) I’d say that they are simple yet complex.

One of my favorite drinks on Mayahuel’s older menu is the “On the Bum”. What was the inspiration behind that drink?
It was based off the Mai Tai.

No wonder I enjoy it as much as I do, seeing how the Mai Tai is one of my all time favorite drinks. Now how did you come up with the name “On the Bum”?
It was a tribute to Beach Bum Berry

Jamaican rum has a characteristically funky flavor and mezcal tends to have a smoky quality. What led you to combining these two strong flavored spirits in the same drink?
Well I always say when you put two tyrants in a room they will either kill each other or figure out a way to make peace and work together. I also maintain that any two things can go together if you find the right bridge to bring them together.

You mentioned that if you find the right bridge you can bring what could be opposing forces together. In the On the Bum what was the bridge and how did you go about finding it? Was there a particular direction or flavor profile you were seeking?
The orgeat was probably the main bridge in the drink. I just knew that orgeat played nice with both separately which is generally the best clue as to what can bridge the gap between two things.

I noticed that one of the ingredients of the On the Bum is Medley #2. It reminds me of how Don the Beachcomber created things like Dons Spices #2 and Dons Mix. Was this intentional? Did you want to leave something to drinker’s imagination?
Yes and yes

So what is the secret mix that makes up Medley #2?
Its a blend of Cane Sugar and Regan’s Orange Bitters

Simple yet effective.

Do you have any projects or drinks you are currently working on?
Yes I am helping with all the Fatty Crab/Cue Venues including the one we just opened in Hong Kong. I also will be helping open Ebanos Crossing in Los Angelos in two weeks.

Sounds like you are quite busy with all these projects. How was it different creating drinks for the Hong Kong market? Did you find it a challenge? If so How?
Every place is different. Hong Kong is a “younger” market as in cocktails haven’t quite created a market for themselves there to a large degree. There are some places but its not quite taken off completely yet. (won’t be long in my opinion) Biggest thing in such markets is to make drinks accessible for newbies.

Thanks again Phil for taking the time out of your packed schedule to chat with us.

On the Bum
1 oz Del Maguey Vida infused with Pineapple
1 oz Smith and Cross
3/4 oz Fresh lime juice
3/4 oz Orgeat
1/2 oz Medley # 2
Shake all ingredients with ice and pour into a low ball glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint sprig.

Mayahuel
304 East 6th St
NY, NY, 10003
(212) 253-5888

7 Daiquiri’s in 7 Days: the Look Normal & Freshman Daiquiri


This drink is an original creation of Matt “Rumdood” Robold a bartender at 320Main and creator of the Rumdood.com blog. When it comes to rum, his blog is my go to source for answers and from the limited interaction I’ve had with him on the web he seems like a really down to earth guy.
Look Normal
2 oz White Rum
.75 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Orgeat
2 tsp Absinthe
1 tsp Maraschino
1 tsp Simple Syrup
Shake with ice, strain into an Old Fashioned glass over crushed ice. Garnish with a cherry and an orange twist.
Notes:
Despite the small amounts of Maraschino and Absinthe they both make their presence known and add extra complexity while the orgeat adds a smooth and rich goodness. You will notice that the directions for making the drink are slightly different then the ones that Rumdood wrote about on his blog. He says to shake with both cubed and crushed ice. After speaking with him he stated that it was something that he picked up after reading a book by Wayne Curtis. It was a pain to do and it didn’t really add anything different to the drink. For this reason I shook mine with cubed ice and strained over crushed ice.

After mixing up the Look Normal I went searching for another daiquiri variation that contained orgeat because I love the silky richness that it adds to a drink. I came across the Freshman Daiquiri which incorporated both falernum and orgeat, created by Theo Lieberman of Lantern’s Keep and Milk and Honey in NYC. How could it go wrong?
Freshman Daiquiri
4 oz. White Rum (10 cane)
1.5 oz. Lime Juice
.75 oz. Orgeat
.75 oz. Velvet Falernum
2 fresh orange wedges
Combine all ingredients, shake with ice, strain into two chilled glasses and garnish with a lime wheel
Notes:
The orgeat smooths out the drink with the falernum adding its trademark spice. The orange wedge adds hints of orange flavor in the background and a touch of bitterness in the finish.

Tomorrow is the last day for the series, 7 Daiquiris in 7 Days. The last cocktail is the Airmail.
If you missed yesterdays post: Royal Daiquiri

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