What do you like to drink after a shift? “A very, very cold pilsner, which I like to follow with a very, very cold pilsner.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? ““Higher Love” by mister Steve Winwood.”
After all these years bartending and creating drinks, do you still enjoy going out to bars? “I absolutely do. Bartending means you work nights, and working nights means you have less time to go out to bars, so it is still a treat when I get to cut out early or get the night off and can belly up to a bar and see what someone else has going on.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “I think a big turning point in my life trajectory was when I went to Angel’s Share for the first time and tried their cocktail, Daahoud, which was a very savory Manhattan twist that came served in a smoke-filled snifter. I had never seen anyone put real work into a drink before, and this realization that a drink could be more than just some stuff put in a glass stuck with me. Also, the bartender, Takeshi Uzuka, who served it to me is pretty much as good as they come.”
What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “I enjoy reading and researching about cocktails and spirits plenty, but perhaps my favorite book, which really breaks down the different elements that we can use in cocktail creation, is The Drunken Botanist by Amy Stewart.”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “A classic Margarita with anything fatty and salty. This might be going a bit far into specifics, but the Cobia al Pastor dish (with warm tortillas and pineapple butter) at Cosme is perhaps the best thing in the world to have alongside a Margarita.”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “I think my biggest point of pride lies not in the actual creation of, but in the naming of a drink. My friend and ex-colleague Thor Bergquist created a wonderful Pandan Milk Punch for the menu at the Experimental Cocktail Club when we worked there together, and as if in a dream, the name ‘Jean-Claude Pandan’ came to me. It is now on the menu at his bar PS40 in Sydney.”
Is there one person (dead or alive) you’d like to make a cocktail for? “I’d sure like to pour a Dewar’s on the rocks for my Dad.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “I’m very fond of drinking a fairly high-proof, spicy or wheaty bourbon (if a bar has Noah’s Mill on the shelf, I run straight at it) alongside a very simple, low-ABV lager or pilsner.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “Socks.”
Will Wyatt is the owner of the new bar Mister Paradise in New York’s East Village.
Interview has been condensed and edited.