You’re trapped on a desert island, but the good news is that you can bring five bottles of booze with you to pass the time for you and your friends. Look, there’s even ice and bar tools—you’re all set. What would you choose?
Barman Nico de Soto is known for his work across Paris, New York City and London, always incorporating inventive ingredients and flavor combinations, along with unique sources of inspiration into his cocktails. It has been a busy year for him as well. He's fresh off another wildly successful edition of the Miracle Holiday Pop-Up at Mace, his Alphabet City hot spot in Manhattan, and he also opened a new cocktail bar in Paris, Danico.
While he jokes that on a desert island “I’d bring anything but booze,” he’s willing to approach the scenario from the perspective of being trapped in the middle of Siberia. Sounds like he'll need something hardy.
He may not be physically on an island, but De Soto is still starting with rum, which remains near and dear to his heart. "Rum is my favorite spirit," he says. "I could put many bottles on this list." Nevertheless, when pressed to make a choice, he opts for the Samaroli Demerara 1988. De Soto says it's, "Probably the best I've tried." And he's drinking it neat, you heathens. "Adding something else to it would be a crime."
"Pierre Ferrand is like a family to me," says De Soto of his decision to choose one of the house's cognacs to bring along with him. "We worked together for so long, and some of my closest friends work for the company." That also means he knows what to look for in their range, choosing the premium Pierre Ferrand Abel. "Bringing it would be like having all my friends with me," says De Soto. He's going to be drinking this one neat, too, but suggests a pairing. "Neat, with a slice of Roquefort, s’il vous plaît!"
"I love aquavit,” says De Soto. “This one has a fantastic white chocolate note and is from Denmark. Friends from Denmark came to ECC NYC [Experimental Cocktail Club] for a guest shift once and made a cocktail with cream and white chocolate that was sublime. I would also drink it neat. With smoked fish." That's not a random pairing, either. This aquavit actually includes fresh dill.
Two words is all De Soto needs here: "Because sherry." As for his pick, he opts for the "Sangre y Trabajadero" oloroso sherry from Gutiérrez Colosía. "I can't live without sherry, and this one is near perfection," says De Soto. "This one is aged for seven years, and its nuttiness is incredible."
De Soto has two more words for you here: "Because cachaça," also adding, "because Brazil and Caipirinhas. He says, “This is an example of the amazing cachaça you can find in Brazil. They age it in a lot of different types of wood. This one is Amburana, a Brazilian wood. It gives that almond flavor—a bit tonka like." Tonka? "Oops, prohibited word. Tonka [a type of bean] is banned in the U.S.," says De Soto. We'll have to make an exception on our desert island. Or our Siberian hideaway.”
Mixing your cocktail