THE SHORT LIST

What's in a list?

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Well, for me, quite a lot actually. If it's one of the cocktail lists I regularly put together for my myriad of international clients, it's full of creativity, originality, variety, appealing flavor combinations, unique concepts, and, hopefully, attention getting names and descriptions. My cocktails are undoubtedly a part of me. And I want every single person that tries one of my creations to feel that. If you think about it, that's a pretty tall order.

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And that translates into training. Because what's the point if the guy behind the bar making your cocktail doesn't put any love into it? What's the point if the girl shaking the shaker does it half-heartedly? There's no point at all if it doesn't get delivered properly.

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I just put together one of said lists for arguably the coolest spot under a year old in the city of Jakarta, Indonesia. The place is called Immigrant and I just finished creating for them six incredibly innovative tipples--and that's not just by Javanese standards; I would confidently be able to introduce this selection to an imbibely distinguished Manhattan crowd.

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I utilized a bunch of common local ingredients that people have likely never used in a similar way: an Indonesian leaf called pohpohan, basil seeds, grilled watermelon, and fresh aloe leaf. I also used some common ingredients that are quite uncommon behind the bar: green bell pepper, dates, lollipops, and a few types of candies. Then, I gave them unorthodox names such as: "Widowed Rich Bitch", "Whoah-Whoah-Whoah", "God Gave You Style and Grace", and "Take A Chance On Me". And of course I made sure that the balance of flavors was spot on and that the bartenders had a complete handle on all aspects of each drink.

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And did I mention that the group of bartenders over at Immigrant are an exceptional bunch?

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I've been getting a lot of questions from people I meet lately that go something like this: "So what exactly is it that you do?" Well, this is it. (The short description, that is.)

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Like I said, it's a short list. So sip slowly. Enjoy.

—Joseph

Jakarta, West Java, Indonesia

Drink Me

Smack it up, flip it, rub it down. Eat Me.

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If you're in Bangkok and are anything other than a backpacking, flip-flopping tourist frequenting Khaosan Road slurping buckets of brain-freeze blue kamikazeee with an occasional tuk-tuk trip to get your soapy massage or tiger show fix, then you're likely to have at least heard of the restaurant called Eat Me. If you haven't, it isn't one of Bangkok's alleged red light establishments as the name may tend to suggest, but rather one of the city's finer eateries.

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Darren, the Australian owner, opened up the place somewhere around a decade ago, from whence he has built up and improved the design and decor one bit at a time, and continues to do so. He says the menu is something like Australian cuisine with a mix of modern Asian. Much thanks to his sister Cherie, who makes her way to Bangkok every now and again to spend her days in the kitchen perfecting the menu, the food really kicks ass. Look; I definitely love to eat, but that's not why I'm here, is it? For me, it's about the drinks.


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The cocktail menu is so kindly arranged in columns with illustrations so even an illiterate can understand what glass his drink will be served in. This is important; I've seen many a champagne-sipping Palm Beach boy unknowingly stuck napkin-swathing a rocks glass tipple or a high-powered martini drinker being pressured to suck a cocktail through a straw from a highball, both situations having the potential to end up rather messy. The selection—although I haven't yet tried them all—is made with a nice variety of (sometimes locally hard-to-get) spirits and fresh ingredients, which is likely to disappoint you if you've become a fan of the subpar drinks they tend to serve in most places around the city. If you get there when it's not a busy time, you may be lucky enough to get your drink mixed by Adit.

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Adit is the senior bartender and waiter, tending bar and waiting tables much like an aspiring actor in L.A.—his energy always high, his sense of humor always on, and his knowledge of the menu always studied. Aside from this, he's an excellent barman, utilizing both Western and Japanese techniques, and really putting in the love that each libation truly deserves, clearly translating into an overtly better drinking experience. Some of the cocktails he's made for me are the Siam Daiquiri, Fig & Ginger Martini, and the exceptional Bitter & Twisted.

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"Let me make you one of my favorites," he said to me. I was a bit flattered when he slid a chilled martini glass filled with one of my creations in front of me. It was over two years ago that I hopped behind the bar with Adit to show him how to make a Blueberry Joe, one of my New York signatures (recipe here), and still he surprised me with one by recreating it just about spot on.

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In Bangkok? Fancy something better than the Bangkok norm? Make a reservation at Eat Me and say hi to Darren and Adit (and Cherie, if she's there) for me. Have a nice meal, drink a nice cocktail, and, as always, sip slowly.

—Joseph

Bangkok, Thailand