Interview with Chef Mixologist Ame Brewster of Café Boulud—Palm Beach, FL

March 3

Antoinette F. Bruno: What drew you to restaurants and in particular, to mixology?
Ame Brewster: I’ve studied anthropology and political science, and done a lot of traveling. I’m interested in culture, and as such, in food.

AFB: Were you trained in bartending or mixology?
AB: I was trained as a bartender in my first job and my teacher was very strict. It was a very traditional and classical training.

AFB: What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market? How have trends changed?
AB: I see a lot of retro inspiration, especially in New York City. People are looking back. I see a lot of simple prep but with high quality ingredients. In Palm Beach though, there’s definitely a focus on spirits and new-fangled products.

AFB: What goes into creating a new cocktail? How long does it take to create a new cocktail?
AB: I usually find inspiration in a classic cocktail, and then try to factor in seasonality. Sometimes it’s easy, but other times it takes longer to make it work. [The process is] really very ingredient-based. I like seeing the beauty in a product and highlighting its flavors.

AFB: What is your favorite cocktail to drink? To make?
AB: To drink I like the old school Presbyterian (ginger beer and whiskey). To make, I like things that I get to muddle, like Mojitos and Caipirinhas.

AFB: What are you favorite tools?
AB: I have a simple bar and I like to keep it that way. I like my long handled spoon, my muddler and my food processor.

AFB: What is your favorite mixology resource book?
AB: Anything by David Wondrich. His work on classic cocktails (in Esquire and elsewhere) has been my main resource – I like to use the old cocktails with a modern twist.

AFB: What is your most important work experience?
AB: Alto (in New York City) was indispensable because of the wine training. It was very strict in technique and knowledge. From that experience, I learned how to taste, how to read people, and how to know a product.

AFB: If you weren’t a mixologist, what would you be doing?
AB: I’d be a sommelier!

AFB: Which person in history would you most like to go for drinks with?
AB: Hemingway – he inspired a lot of cocktails.

AFB: Is there an ingredient that you feel is underappreciated or underutilized? Why?
AB: Vegetables in general. There is always a focus on the protein in cooking – I think vegetables should get more attention, and be a highlight.

AFB: What does success mean for you? What will it look like for you?
AB: It’s not a job title. It’s an accumulation of knowledge. There may never be an end to the process, as long as there is more to learn.