Mixologist Freddy Sarkis on Brainstorming, Better Home Bartending, and Eggs

Sweet and Spicy Cola Flip

(Pictured: the Sweet and Spicy Cola Flip. The one I made wasn’t nearly so pretty, but sure hit the spot)

Being a bartender ain’t always quite what it used to be. On Tuesday, the New York Times ran an article outlining how some bartenders have gone the way of “brand ambassador” in addition to slinging shots and performing alchemy for customers.

We had an opportunity to speak with Freddy Sarkis, a well-known and well-respected mixologist out of Pittsburgh. He recently teamed with 2010 World Barista Champion Mike Phillips to create a coffee/Baileys Irish Cream recipe in honor of National Coffee Month (recipe below). We took the opportunity to try to find out what goes into a master mixologist’s thought process when given such a task.

Osmosis Online: On creating a cocktail — what are the things you generally take into account when brainstorming? Are you working from whole new cloth or attempting to put a new spin on an old favorite/classic?

Fred Sarkis: I love pairing different flavors you wouldn’t dare to mix that unexpectedly produce a truly amazing taste combination. Most of my brainstorming starts there. A great example is mixing the sugary taste of cola, the bitter taste of a strong coffee, and the creamy texture of Baileys in the Sweet and Spicy Cola Flip (below).

OO: What would you say are one or a couple things the average “home bartender” can do to improve the quality of his/her cocktails?

Sarkis: I think something the “home bartender” overlooks is the necessity to measure your ingredients. When people make drinks at home, many will just add spirits to their cocktail shaker thinking that the proportions are inconsequential. But with any great culinary creation, whether you’re baking a cake or creating a five-course meal, you have to be very precise in your measurements to not disrupt the balance of the final product. For cocktails, mixologists use a jigger or measuring cup to make sure the recipes are properly executed and I commend home bartenders who do so as well.

OO: There’s been a hullabaloo or two concerning over-the-counter products that contain both caffeine and alcohol. Many custom-prepared cocktails (like the recipe below), contain both as well. Do you see this as an issue?

Sarkis: There has been discussion over the issue of energy drinks containing caffeine and alcohol. The Baileys Sweet and Spicy Cola Flip is a specialty cocktail that has only a 1/2 ounce of iced coffee and is not an energy drink.

OO: Using an egg in a cocktail is daunting for some (guilty, I’ll admit). What steps should I take to make sure I am using uncooked egg safely and correctly?

Sarkis:The art of using eggs in cocktails dates back to the late 1600s before Prohibition, but a lot more bartenders are using them again. Just make sure to use fresh, clean eggs, just like the ones you’d eat.

Sweet and Spicy Cola Flip
2 ounces Baileys Original Irish Cream
1/2 ounce Iced Coffee
1/8 ounce 2:1 Raw Sugar Syrup
Real Sugar Cola
Whole Egg
Pinch of Freshly Grated Nutmeg
Pinch of Freshly Ground Cinnamon

1. Mix coffee and sugar syrup together and set aside.
2. Combine all other ingredients except the Cola and dry shake.
3. Add ice and shake vigorously.
4. Pour into highball glass and then top up with Real Sugar Cola.
5. Garnish with another pinch of Nutmeg and a pinch of freshly ground Cinnamon.


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