Going 10 Rounds With Top Bartender Miguel Lancha
The cocktail innovator at Chef José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup and for its new restaurant Mercado Little Spain, tackles our speed round of questions.
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “You can’t have just one! “The Boys are Back in Town” (Thin Lizzy), “Don’t Be Cruel” (Elvis Presley) and, for when you’ve been driving for a while, “Flyin’ Saucer Rock’n’Roll” (Robert Gordon & Link Wray).”
After all these years bartending and creating drinks, do you still enjoy going out to bars? “Yes! Just in a different way.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “Cachánchara. Made by my Dad at home.”
What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “I don’t think there’s a one-size-fits-all. Different books are stronger in different aspects. And apart from the fact that I still haven’t caught up with many recognized books out there, Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks has the historical value and references of things done in the Golden Era, but David Wondrich’s Imbibe! opened the door for me to understand and enjoy that one. Dave Arnold’s Liquid Intelligence is a must for modern techniques, although Jeffrey Morgenthaler’s The Bar Book is very approachable and practical for stepping behind the bar to be a solid and reliable bartender. Andre Dominé’s El Libro del Bar y de Los Cócteles is amazing on spirits, liquor and fortified wines. I like Dave Broom’s Rum or Whisky books for single focused spirits, and from there on, François Monti’s El Gran Libro del Vermut.”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “Media Combinación with a gilda (a skewer with an olive, a piparras pepper and an anchovy).”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “The Andrés & Cooper:Del Maguey Ibérico Mezcal, amontillado sherry, gran reserva sweet vermouth, Cynar, garnished with kalamata olive and paletilla Iberica ham.”
Is there one person (dead or alive) you’d like to make a cocktail for? “My Dad.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “Genever (Old Duff works just great) and a Euro pale lager.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “Always a digital micro-scale, a set of measuring spoons and, especially if it’s within the U.S., a 20/40 ml jigger.”
Miguel Lancha is the Cocktail Innovator at José Andrés’ ThinkFoodGroup and for its new restaurant Mercado Little Spain.
Interview has been condensed and edited.