What do you like to drink after a shift? “My go to at the end of a long night is wine. Depending on how my night went, I’ll either drink a light, crisp refreshing white, or a full-bodied red if I need a hug.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “Okay, so this is a bit of an outrageous answer, but songs by the Spice Girls unite a bar! Even the guy sitting alone at the bar who has been complaining about his life for hours to the poor bartender can’t help but at least grin.”
What drink should be banished and why? “The Long Island Ice Tea! To me, drinking is something social, something to be enjoyed with friends with good conversation. A Long Island just guarantees you’ll have your head in the toilet at some point in the night.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “My first experience working in a cocktail bar, I was being trained by Lynnette Marrero and Jim Kearns. As part of training they made me a Manhattan. I never knew a cocktail could taste so good.”
What book on cocktails, spirits or food is your go-to resource? “I definitely use classic templates as inspiration for all of my cocktails.”
What’s your favorite bottle of booze that costs less than $25? “I’m going to cheat a little here: A 375 mL bottle of Clear Creek Pear Brandy. If you like joy, then you’ll enjoy this stuff. It’s absolutely insanely delicious if you put it in the freezer. It’s also delicious in a white wine spritz and [I also like] a teaspoon of it in a Martini or in a Gimlet. It’s my go-to make everything better booze.”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “I love Champagne and greasy, greasy Chinese food. I’ll also never turn down a Plymouth 50/50 Martini with a twist to accompany a cheese plate.”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “I would have to say my Tartan Swizzle, which is a playful Scotch tiki cocktail. Yes, it’s yummy, but I’m really proud of it because it marked a point in my creative process where I stopped taking myself so seriously.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “I love a glass of dry cider (yeah, yeah, I know it’s not really a beer) accompanied by a chilled shot of aquavit.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “My notebook. It’s my most loyal tool. It’s where I record all of my ideas, and travelling often inspires something new, even if it’s for business.”
Natasha David is of owner of bar Nitecap in New York.
Interview has been condensed and edited.