Interview with Chef Mixologist Ame Brewster of Café Boulud—Palm Beach, FL
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.
Mixologist Ame BrewsterCafé Boulud
20 East 76th Street
New York, NY 10021