Interview with Mixologist Junior Merino of The Modern – New York, NY

September 20

Will Blunt: What drew you to restaurants and in particular to mixology?
Junior Merino: When I was about ten I lived in a puebla in Mexico where I started to cook for my whole family. I loved it! I was interested in how cooking involved using spices and infusions. In 1993, I started working in Boulevard and worked my way up from there.

WB: Were you trained in bartending or mixology?
JM: I learned a lot from my parents, and I consider Gabriel Kreuther, a chef, to be my mentor. New and exciting flavors interest and inspire me whether they come from savory dishes or desserts.

WB: What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
JM: I’ve noticed that a lot of old fashioned drinks are coming back but in a playful way.

WB: What goes into creating a cocktail? And what inspired you in the first place?
JM: I am always inspired by the alcohol itself--the pure flavors of Grey Goose, Leblon, or Demars. I taste these alcohols and think about flavor pairings and ingredients that would match the sugarcane of the cachaca or the molasses of the rum.

WB: What is your favorite drink to make?
JM: I enjoy mixing all sorts of drinks, because even the simplest drinks need to be made with care.

WB: Where do you see yourself in five years?
JM: I’d like to have my own place and maybe write a book that teaches people not just how to make, but how to create their own cocktails. I’d like to write the kind of book that inspires people to play around with new and exciting flavors and make their own combinations.