Going 10 Rounds With Top Bartender Alberto Miranda
The co-owner of the new Upper West Side bar Nobody Told Me tackles our speed round of questions.
What do you like to drink after a shift? “I’m usually dehydrated by the end of a busy shift, so I’ll make a Daiquiri and serve it in a Collins glass with ice. Basically, an excuse to drink rum, while telling myself that really cold limeade is good for me.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “The Kinks “You Really Got Me.” PSA: Most importantly, please everyone stop playing the “Sweet Caroline,” “Piano Man” and “Free Bird” loop that lasts all night!”
After all these years bartending and creating drinks, do you still enjoy going out to bars? “Absolutely. From visiting friends and trying out their wonderful new concoctions to having some alone time in a dive bar enjoying a High Life pony and a shot of bourbon. I love bars and restaurants and that’s what led me down my path.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “I was lucky to grow up in Puerto Rico where from a young age you are exposed to great Mojitos, Piña Coladas and rum punches with wonderful fresh tropical fruits. My college-era rum punch I still swear by: pineapple juice, chironja (a hybrid of an orange and a grapefruit) juice, acerola (Caribbean cherry) juice and a split base of aged and unaged rums.”
What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “If the question is specific to cocktails and spirits, I’d say Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence.”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “Scotch and coconut water with a bacalaito (salt cod fritter). Go to Piñones in Puerto Rico, order these at a kiosk, sit on the beach and think about how delightful life can be.”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “It’s an old one, probably one of the first cocktails I came up with, but I can’t shake how much I love the name of this drink. It’s the perfect combination of a cool sounding phrase that also tells you exactly what the drink is: Old Tom’s Bitter Last Word. As the name implies, it’s a Last Word cocktail that substitutes old Tom gin for the standard London dry and uses Fortify Bitter, an aperitif from Colorado, instead of the citrus. It’s stirred and served up.”
Is there one person (dead or alive) you’d like to make a cocktail for? “My grandfather. He ran an incredible restaurant for more than 40 years and he passed away just a couple of weeks before I got to open my own.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “A super cold 10-ounce can of Medalla Light and Ron del Barrilito 3-Star Rum. If you’ve been to Puerto Rico you know.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “A brand-new peeler and my freshly sharpened Japanese knife. Everything else, I can source wherever I’m at.”
Alberto Miranda is co-owner of new Upper West Side bar Nobody Told Me
Interview has been condensed and edited.