Bar Shift: What Happens When NOLA Cocktail Craft Heads to Harlem | Partner Tip
Posted on Apr 05, 2015
Have you been to a Bar Shift in your neighborhood yet? Liquor.com’s program, sponsored by BACARDÍ® USA, sends one professional drinks slinger to a faraway city to work a shift at a top drinking destination.
On Monday, June 8, Daniel Victory of New Orleans’ Victory headed north to take a shift behind the stick at Harlem’s 67 Orange Street, where he shook signature Bacardi cocktails with host bartender Karl Franz. A pioneer of New Orleans’ craft-cocktail movement, Victory is dedicated to preserving the artistry of classic cocktail creation and the high standard of service established by generations of bartenders before him. To Victory, bartending is an art form, and his self-named bar in New Orleans is a tribute to that pursuit.
Victory first realized that cocktail creation is an art rather than a science during his time at NOLA’s Fairmont Hotel, now the Roosevelt. As he says, “If bartending was a science, then every Martini would be exactly the same. Exact measurements of all the ingredients would yield exactly the same drink. It’s a simple, scientific method—a system of repeatable experiments that yield the same results. However, anyone who has ever had Martinis will tell you, they are not all the same.”
Victory took his personal approach to cocktail-making to New Orleans’ famed Sazerac Bar and The Ritz-Carlton, where he led the French Quarter Bar. There, Daniel learned some of his most important career lessons, such as the difference between making a tip and serving a perfectly balanced cocktail with a napkin and straw positioned at three o’clock.
In 2009, Victory achieved international acclaim after being recognized as one of the top five bartenders in GQ magazine and Bombay Sapphire’s “Most Inspired Bartender” contest. After a year of travel as a brand ambassador and a wealth of knowledge gained, he returned home to become one of the founders and lead educators of the Crescent City School of Bartending.
In addition to his own bar, Victory expanded his vision once again this year with the creation of the Old New Orleans Drink Lab. At the Lab, cocktail history and education are top priority, and students learn how to make Crescent City craft cocktails, while discovering the history alongside them. Fortunately for NOLA, Victory shows no sign of slowing down.
During his Harlem-based Bar Shift, Victory served an eager crowd drinks influenced by his travels. His Beetin’ the Lime cocktail was inspired by a little restaurant in San Francisco where he learned to love beets, thanks to a simple beet salad spiked with lime and brown sugar. His natural inclination was to transform those flavors into a hand-shaken Daiquiri with the addition of Bacardi añejo rum. The resulting, garnet-hued cocktail was a surprise hit with Bar Shift attendees, appealing to even the most fervent beet-haters.
But even more surprising was Victory’s Harvest Sensation cocktail, made with only two ingredients. Fresh sweet potato juice and Bénédictine were the sole components of this amber glass, apart from a rim of unflavored Pop Rocks for texture and sweetness. The result was the cocktail equivalent of a spiced sweet potato pie that Victory says was the first cocktail he ever traveled with for a drinks competition. Because sweet potatoes are grown on six continents, Victory knows that he can create this cocktail no matter where he goes, as long as he packs a bottle of Bénédictine.
Missed Victory’s Harlem Bar Shift? Don’t worry. Liquor.com’s Bar Shift program sponsored by BACARDÍ® USA is far from over. Look out for more Bar Shifts happening later 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.