Culinary Bartending in the 305

By Emily Bell | Megan Swann

By

Emily Bell
Megan Swann
Smith and Cross Rum, Appleton Rum, Jackfruit Sorbet, Jackfruit Seed Orgeat, Jackfruit Tincture, and Mint
Smith and Cross Rum, Appleton Rum, Jackfruit Sorbet, Jackfruit Seed Orgeat, Jackfruit Tincture, and Mint

Randy Perez isn’t a bartender just flirting with the kitchen. He’s in a full-on, obsessive love affair. “When I was coming up at Broken Shaker three years ago, I was a day-time server,” he remembers. “We would talk about culinary techniques, like making different stocks, custards, roasting seeds, how to properly char veggies and fruits, fermenting, and pickling.” It wasn’t just a forced march through the kitchen. Perez paid attention. “Since I was brought up culinary, it just became part of my bartending. I don’t know any other way.”

Now helming his own bar program at 27, Perez has taken Broken Shaker’s culinary approach even further. “I do think it’s important for a bartender to search out and fi nd his own style,” he says. “You must stay true to yourself no matter what bar you work at.” The true Perez, a born and bred Miamian, works starfruit jam into refreshing gin cocktail. He ferments mamey sapote, and wreathes a martini variation in pickled hibiscus bark. It’s pure West Coast bartending that’s rooted squarely in tropical Dade County. 

The drink that best embodies Perez’s philosophy is his Never Waste a Thing, a jackfruit Mai Tai variation. “As we were cleaning up one night, I noticed myself about to toss out some of the leftover jackfruit and asked myself why,” says Perez. Instead chucking the leftovers, Perez took a culinary route.

He turned the fruit’s meat into a sorbet that sweetens the drink and punches up its viscosity. “Instead of throwing away the leftover skins and seeds, I thought the skin would make for a super-intense bitters and experimented. I was left with the seeds and remembered that they could be roasted and taste like chestnuts. Then it hit me: jackfruit seed orgeat!” That would already be an efficiency win. But Perez is exhaustively inventive. “I would say what inspired the‘nose-to-tail’ technique was the urge to create something beautiful and tasty, without using a trash can. I’ve made it a point not to waste a thing.”

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