Saturday, March 23, 2013

Gabriella Mlynarczyk - Lady Crush Interview

Here at Gastronomista HQ we always perk up when we hear about women doing amazing things in the food and beverage world - namely in the otherwise male dominated world of spirits.  Today, we would like to introduce you to LA mixologist Gabriella Mlynarczyk who tends bar at Ink.  She's wooed us with tweets about dehydrated campari dust and fresh elderflowers en route to the sous vide - we knew this lady was up to something good.  Perusing her website, La Loving Cup, it's clear she's up to something - gorgeous cocktails and thorough recipes will make your mouth water.  We were lucky enough to get a few moments of her time to get to discuss her favorite libations, what inspires her, and of course, Keith Richards.

Miss Mlynarczyk - Clearly Up to Something Good

Gastronomista:  How did you start tending bar?
Gabriella Mlynarczyk:  I started tending bar in 1986 at a pub  in the UK, called Ye Olde Bell, I  pulled pints mostly but we would have some old school regulars that would order old fashioneds, martinis and manhattans, i was a shy bookish kid and someone suggested it would be a good exercise in helping me come out of my shell. i got hooked pretty fast.

G:  What is your favorite part of the job?
GM:  The research, finding new ways of presenting a classic, learning about the process, techniques and making mixers from scratch then sharing the knowledge with my guests.

G:  Whats your favorite cocktail you've created?
GM:  There's so many. This last Christmas i made a pannetone infused egg-nog milk shake that was shot out of an ISI gun, it was frothy,  tasty and a lot of fun, tending bar can be such a serious business especially when you're working for such high profile chefs, I try to give my drinks a bit of humor or use something unexpected.  My favorite on the Ink menu would either be the Mezcal based drink or the Brown Butter Banana Mai Tai:

            Mezcal Cocktail:
            1 oz vida mezcal
            1 oz celery juice
            1 oz floc de gascogne
            3/4 oz lemon juice
            3/4 oz simple syrup
            2 dashes bitter truth celery bitters
           smoked maldon salt

           Shake all ingredients except salt over ice, strain into an ice filled glass, garnish with pinch of smoked salt, mint sprig and cucumbers.

Brown Butter Banana Mai Tai

          Brown Butter Banana Mai Tai
          1 1/2 oz white rum that has been fat washed with brown butter caramelized bananas
          1 oz fresh lime juice
          3/4 oz pierre ferrand dry curacao
          1/2 oz st vincent orgeat
          dash of bittermens elemakule bitters

          We carbonate this cocktail in batches but you can shake all ingredients over ice and strain into a crushed ice filled glass with mint sprig garnish.

         At home i make a similar version of this but with my own made hazelnut orgeat and i add a pinch of 5 spice powder to my banana rum.

G:  Those sound delicious.  I've noticed there's a bit of molecular mixology going on - how did you start messing around with the science side of food?
GM:  I started using culinary and molecular techniques at my last job before Ink, the kitchen crew were very interested in the flavors i was playing with and showed me some useful ways of speeding up my creative process as well as for presentation purposes.  I love a good science project and  could spend hours in the kitchen creating.

G:  Female mixologists are still rare in the spirits world, how do you think being female has influenced your path and how do you think it influences your cocktails.  
GM:  I think its sad that women have to still prove themselves more than men, its actually kind of tiresome that the boys club mentality still exists, women are better multi-taskers, are faster and less likely to let their egos get in the way of the job, its encouraging to see more bars hiring women as their head bar tenders and mixologists, I love you boys but us lasses have some mad skills. As for my cocktails I think  they may be sometimes  more subtle , sometimes more nuanced and more delicate, I like to use a lot of botanical  and floral aromatics am not sure if that's because i'm a woman or  its due to my personal tastes, I'm not all flowers and subtlety , I like a good masculine whisky drink too but they tend not to pair so well with food so I prefer them after dinner.

Kombucha Green Tea Gimlet - via La Loving Cup

G:  What influences the creation of one of your libations?
GM:  Usually a food , aroma or culinary spice, i start to brainstorm what spirits that flavor/aroma would work with and how i can get it integrated into a drink.

G:  How do you think your style compliments the food at Ink?
GM:  I like to use my kitchen experiments to re-invent the classics. My drinks are culinary driven, and the savory ones such as the mezcal above pair well with dishes such as the beef tartare or octopus dish.

Pistachio Sour - via La Loving Cup 

G: Whats the most unlikely ingredient you've built into one of your cocktails?
GM:  Maybe the pannetone, or butter popcorn that infuses our white whisky drink on the current menu. I like using veggie juice like putting kale in a margarita or carrot in a gin gimlet, I've also just made a mugwort infused vermouth and am playing with dehydrating Campari to make a dust.

G:  Most memorable cocktail you've ever had?
GM:  So many! Audrey Saunders earl grey tea gin sour at Pegu Club, or the Pink Lady at Little Branch, Josh Goldman's mezcal and grilled hot dog michelada, Jim Kearns Admiral Warrender made with scotch and qi smoked tea , Dave Kupchinski from Eveleigh made a "skinny" margarita that was anything but skinny, the spirit was washed with chorizo fat.

Self Preservation Society Cocktail - via La Loving Cup

G:  Guilty Pleasure
GM:  Smoked brown butter old fashioned that i make for sitting next to our fire at home whilst watching Downton Abbey.

G:  Breakfast in Bed
GM:  A good Irish fry up with my rosemary infused tomato water mary.

G:  Pick your Poison
GM:  Whisky, chocolate, butter, brunello di montalcino, Keith Richards.

G:  Last Meal
GM:  There are several courses to this: Bond street's Ceviche fish tacos with yuzu avocado mousse,Ink's green apple and celery root hamachi dish, Chef Mark Gold's Arzak egg with mustard sabayonne, Son of a Gun's pho broth sea bass dish, Momofuku's Pork buns, Chef Jordan Khan's coconut dessert at Red Medicine followed by a shot of my ginger fernet cure all.

Homemade Ginger fernet?!?! Swoon!  Book us a flight to LA - we're dying to taste one of Ms. Mlynarczyk's libations for ourselves!  Want more? (we sure do) - check out her website La Loving Cup, or follow on twitter.


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