Vanessa Treviño-Boyd, one of Houston's most popular sommeliers, says the final touches are being applied to the new cocktail program at 60 Degrees Mastercrafted, which will go live next week. David Cedeño, who joined Treviño-Boyd's team earlier this month as bar manager, has created several new drinks for the list. He says the craft of painting informs his work.
"My approach to bartending stems from my approach to oil painting. I like to have a strong composition in my painting, and in cocktails I like to have a noticeable structure, beginning, middle, and end," Cedeño, who once took off for a year to paint, says. "From there you can play with color, shapes— as in garnishes— and lines— as in glassware. You can make it into an art form. The thing is to have everything ready to go when the party starts."
One new drink 60 Degrees guests can look forward to is Cedeño's Lower Manhattan; he uses more vermouth and less rye whiskey, which makes it a lower-alcohol cocktail this is "perfect for beginning or ending an evening." And Cedeño thinks that people are looking for lighter creations that allow them to drink a bit more without the detrimental effects that come with overly strong cocktails.
"The process of putting together a drink list often starts with a connection to the cocktails you have some affinity for. When it comes to classics it's always fun to go with some of the lesser-known ones that have a familiar tone. The Manhattan is one of my favorite drinks, but instead of putting a classic Manhattan on the list I decided to invert the ratios of the ingredients and go with more vermouth than whiskey and call it the Lower Manhattan. The result is a nuanced cocktail of familiar flavors that introduces the idea of enjoying a proper tipple that is on par with a glass of wine instead of a bourbon on the rocks."
In addition to the Lower Manhattan, the new program includes the Isadora, "when a gimlet meets a gin and tonic". It's got Texas gin, grapefruit cordial, Aperol, and tonic water. Rounding out the list is Cedeño's $100 Sazerac, which is made of Highland Park 25 year, Swiss absinthe, and Creole bitters. He says it is "bold, full of character, and more handsome than George Clooney himself."
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[Photo: James Brock]