Going 10 Rounds With Top Bartender Bryan Schneider
The bar director for the Quality Branded restaurant group tackles our speed round of questions.
What do you like to drink after a shift? “Water. Usually, sparkling mineral water. You’ve got to stay hydrated.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? ““I Put a Spell On You,” but only the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ version, which is down and dirty like your dive bar. Usually, you can only find the Creedence Clearwater Revival version on the jukebox, which is passable at best.”
After all these years bartending and creating drinks, do you still enjoy going out to bars? “Yes, I do indeed. I do still enjoy a good tipple.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “A friend of mine made me a Gin & Tonic in college. I remember being totally baffled as to how two things that tasted so disgusting on their own can be so delightful when combined.”
What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “Stanley Clisby Arthur’s Famous New Orleans Drinks and How To Mix ‘Em is one of my favorite vintage cocktail books. It’s short and concise, unlike many of those other vintage books that are packed with infinite undrinkable concoctions. There’s also some great anecdotes and tall tales in the book as well. And for a more recent book, I keep turning back to Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence to steal ideas and techniques.”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “Pisco, neat, and dark chocolate. Someone just turned me on to this and it blew my mind.”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “I’m proud of the Nitro Negroni. We keg up a Negroni, infuse it with nitrogen gas, and send it through a stout faucet for a cascading, frothy version of the classic.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “Quality Beer and Quality Whiskey, of course. I partnered with Interboro Brewery and the New York Distilling Company, both Brooklyn-based producers, to create a private label beer and a private label rye whiskey for our restaurants. Both are delicious, and they make a great combo.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “A good wine key, which I always forget to pack. But then when I do remember to pack one it gets confiscated by the TSA. So, I guess this isn’t the best answer.”
Bryan Schneider is the bar director for the Quality Branded restaurant group.
Interview has been condensed and edited.