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Bar Shift: What Happens When LA Cocktail Craft Comes to Brooklyn | Partner Tip
Posted on Jul 14, 2015
Did you miss the latest Brooklyn-based round of Bar Shift?
On Monday, August 10, Yael Vengroff of Los Angeles’ Spare Room headed east to take a shift behind the stick at Brooklyn’s iconic Clover Club, shaking signature Dewar’s cocktails with venerated host—and Clover Club owner—Julie Reiner. Already an industry fixture at age 27, Vengroff has worked at some of the most well-regarded cocktail bars and fine-dining restaurants in New York and Los Angeles.
Vengroff’s career began when she moved to New York in 2005 to attend New York University. This proved to be a crucial period, as she was introduced to some of the world’s top bartenders and soon became the youngest female bartender at Audrey Saunders’ renowned Pegu Club. Vengroff’s time there was full of invaluable lessons, including the importance of good service. During her two years at Pegu Club, she also discovered a love of tiki cocktails, which led to her next big break as head bartender at Painkiller, the former Lower East Side tiki joint.
Following her success in New York, Vengroff moved to Los Angeles in 2012 to accept a position with Proprietors LLC, the people behind bars such as Death & Co and Honeycut. There, she assisted the hospitality company with beverage development and operations management and went on to work behind the bar at Hollywood’s Harvard & Stone, where her talent for whimsical cocktails became her calling card.
Today, Vengroff has reached another pinnacle as the beverage director of L.A.’s Spare Room. Always conscious of the lessons she learned in New York, Vengroff continues to represent her longstanding philosophy of providing guests with unparalleled hospitality—while offering them her highly creative, personal brand of cocktails. In addition to her work behind the stick, Vengroff also snagged multiple titles with Speed Rack, the charity bar competition that honors female bartenders and raises funds for breast cancer research. Vengroff was the 2012 Speed Rack National Champion, the 2013 Champion of the West Coast Rematch and the 2014 Champion of Fastest Hands in the West.
During her Brooklyn Bar Shift, Vengroff served the crowd drinks influenced by her travels. One of her signature hits was the Spin Move, a warmly-spiced coupe made with Dewar’s White Label, D’ussé Cognac, St-Germain, green cardamom pods, lemon juice and bitters. The addition of aromatic cardamom was inspired by Vengroff’s time spent in Mumbai, India, and the finishing touch was a playful green-apple fan.
Vengroff’s round of cocktails also included the Gold Lion, made with Dewar’s 12-Year-Old Scotch, navy-strength rum, banana liqueur and mole bitters, a fond nod to her early tiki background. And Bar Shift guests fell hard for her Ancient Blue Pearl punch. The glowing bowl held a mix of Bombay Sapphire Gin, aloe vera juice, dry vermouth, orange bitters and blue food coloring, which Vengroff called “a quintessential LA cocktail” that she named after a Thai massage parlor down the street from where she used to work.
Missed Vengroff’s Brooklyn Bar Shift? Don’t worry. Liquor.com’s Bar Shift program sponsored by BACARDÍ® USA isn’t over yet. Look out for more Bar Shifts happening this year in major cities around the country. You’ll get to watch as a top-level bartender takes on the shift of a lifetime that will forever influence his or her craft behind the bar. The best part? You get to drink the results.