Bartender Interview: Brian Sassen of Repour Bar, Miami 


Repour Bar is a laid backpack retreat in the middle of South Beach. Housed inside the Albion Hotel it features comfy couches and inventive cocktails. It’s the place to be to escape to escape from the glitz of Miami sit back grab a drink and listen to the soundtrack of life whether that’s the classic hip hop streaming from the speakers or the live music. After a great experience (full review to follow) I had to interview one of bartenders who make Repour Bar what it is, Brian Sassen. 

How did you initially get involved in bartending? 
Seemingly, I always had a passion for the bar/restaurant/nightlife industry. Something about the bar, the bartenders, and the rapport between guests and bartenders, always intrigued me. I loved the social aspect, and as a 22 year old waiter, I had an opportunity to transition to the bar, and I ran with it. 

What was the idea behind the Repour Bar?
Repour is your home away from home. Isaac Grillo, the owner of this amazing establishment, comes from Colorado, and wanted that kind of feel in his bar, along with “bada–” cocktails. The goal from the outset was a chill place, with dope music and bada– drinks. Kind of like a basement you would have hung out in with friends growing up.

What is your approach when it comes to formulating cocktails?
When formulating cocktails, my approach varies a lot. But for the most part, I always want to one up myself. So, I may have a popular drink that I worked hard on. When its time to put together a new menu, I wanna blow that drink out of the water. Also, my approach varies from guest to guest. I often make drinks from scratch, that I have never made, based on what I think a particular guest will enjoy. You will often see my thinking face, when I have proper time to wow a guest.  

If you are stuck on desert island what is your drink of choice?
I’m assuming its like 100 degrees, so pina coladas please
However, if its off the coast of canada, a real nice Boulevardier with Highwest double rye, cocchi torino and gran classico bitters should do the trick. Just thinking about it makes me horny.

If you could share a drink with anyone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Dead — Jim Morrison. who the hell knows where that night would end up? anything short of the desert would be a let down. 

Alive — my amazing girlfriend, Daniela. She is more fun than anyone I know, and would keep the party going even after everyone passed out. 

What do you think is the most underrated drink?
The Singapore sling. Not nearly often called for enough. But if made properly, is wonderfully refreshing, complex, and flavorful. The best part about it is, no 2 bartenders will make it the same. 

What drinking/cocktail trend do you wish would go away and why?
The guest that comes to my bar and says, “Surprise me!” Stop saying Surprise me!! Tell me what you want. Otherwise more trends will all fade in time, and I’m good with that…. Smoke, Beer cocktails, etc… I’m old school. Bring me an old fashioned or a 50/50 gin martini and i’m a happy drinker. 

What is one of your favorite original creations and would you be willing to share the recipe?
Back in 2008, I was working in NYC at BLT Fish, which is the first spot that had my drinks on their cocktail menus. One in particular, did not sell so well, but I loved and to this day still remains unique for me. It was rich, savory and wildly different, and at the time I had a huge hard on for sidecars.

Loose Goose
2 oz Cognac (Hennessey VS)
.25 oz Cointreau
.75 oz Homemade Gooseberry Marmalade 
1 oz Fresh Lemon
4 Healthy dashes Angostura Orange Bitters
Top With Club Soda and Garnish with Fresh Gooseberry
Very seasonal item. I was lucky enough to have a farmer’s market down the street in Union Square. It was the only place I could find my gooseberries. 

Repour Bar (inside Albion Hotel)
1650 James Ave
Miami Beach, Fl 33139

Mixology Monday No. 82: Sours


Once again it is time for Mixology Monday. I had missed the last several but it’s good to be back in the swing of things. This month’s theme, hosted by Andrea at the Ginhound Blog, is Sours. She’s allowing Daisies … Continue reading

Interview with Jamie Boudreau of Canon, Seattle


In this weeks interview, we chat with Jamie Boudreau of Canon in Seattle. Throughout the years he has won countless awards including the Cheers Rising Star award in 2010. He has become one of the most influential members of the … Continue reading

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.

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

Cocktail Overhaul: Prairie Fire


Shots! Shots! Shots! These are often the words that get the party started…and lead to countless bad decisions and lost memories. The trouble is that not all shots are created equal. Some go down as easy as pie while others burn and burn. The Prairie Fire shot is one of those dangerous shots, commonly constructed with cheap tequila enlivened by Tabasco sauce. But despite its fiery reputation, the Prairie Fire can be corralled into a balanced—and delicious—craft cocktail. Here’s how. Click Here.

Mixology Monday: Crass to Craft

After missing the last few Mixology Monday’s I am hoping to sneak this entry in under the wire. This months theme presented the perfect opportunity to enter. Here is the theme as written by Scott Diaz of Shake, Strain, Sip.
“The evolution of the cocktail has been a wondrous, and sometimes, frightful journey. From its humble beginning, to the “Dark Ages” of most of the later 20th century, to the now herald “Platinum Age” of the cocktail, master mixologists and enthusiasts alike have elevated its grandeur using the best skills, freshest ingredients and craft spirits & liqueurs available. But with all this focus on “craft” ingredients and classic tools & form, it seems we have become somewhat pretentious. The focus on bitter Italian amari, revived and lost ingredients such as Batavia Arrack or Creme de Violette, the snickering at a guest ordering a Cosmopolitan or a Midori Sour; has propelled us into the dark realm of snobbery. Many scratch bars and Speakeasies have gone as far as to remove all vodka and most flavored liqueurs from their shelves. Some even go as far as to post “rules” that may alienate most potential imbibers. Remember, the bar was created with pleasing one particular group in mind: the guest. As such, this month’s MxMo LXXI theme, From Crass to Craft, will focus on concocting a craft cocktail worthy of not only MxMo but any trendy bar, using dubious and otherwise shunned ingredients to sprout forth a craft cocktail that no one could deny is anything less. There are a plethora of spirits, liqueurs and non-alcoholic libations that are just waiting for someone to showcase that they too are worthy of being featured on our home and bar shelves. So grab that bottle of flavored vodka, Jagermeister, cranberry juice, soda, neon colored liqueur, sour mix or anything else deemed unworthy of a craft cocktail, and get mixin’!

My biweekly column on Serious Eats called Cocktail Overhaul goal is to take on dark age cocktails and re-imagine them. So for a change of pace I decided to go the ingredient route and dust off my old bottle of Midori to create a simple old fashioned.
Whats Old is New
2 oz Cognac VS
1/4 oz Midori
1tsp 2:1 Green Tea Simple Syrup
1 Dash of Aphrodite Bitters