Raising the Bar: Julie Reiner

Julie Reiner is a little more reserved than most bartenders, and although she gets her fair share of press, she’s not the sort to run around screaming, “Look at me, look at me!” Instead, Reiner pours her energy into her two bars—the Flatiron Lounge, an elegant Manhattan cocktail joint that opened in 2003, and the two-year-old Clover Club, a comfortable neighborhood bar that just happens to serve spectacular drinks, in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.

As an 18-year-old cocktail waitress in her native Honolulu, Reiner set her sights on the bar, but she had to wait until she moved to San Francisco to get her first bartending gig. She credits bartender Linda Fusco of the Red Room for showing her the ropes. “Linda would put me behind the bar in the afternoon and yell drinks at me,” she says. It was “as if we were in a night club and I was three deep.” Reiner’s career really started to take off after she moved to Manhattan. In 1997, she became the bar manager of the C3 Lounge in the Washington Square Hotel and began creating seasonal menus and taking a culinary approach to cocktails. It didn’t take long for people to notice.

It’s possible that Reiner was the first bartender in the modern age to use tea in cocktails. “At C3 I was creating tea infusions and syrups in order to create new flavors that didn’t already exist behind the bar,” she remembers. Reiner was also one of the cocktailian whizzes to spearhead the successful revival of punch. “I love the idea of communal cocktails, where everyone is enjoying the same flavor sensation,” she says. She also credits David Wondrich’s book Imbibe! for inspiring the punch menu at Clover Club.

Try fixing Reiner’s Gold Coast punch next time you have friends over. You’ll see what the fuss is all about.

Gold Coast

Contributed by: Julie Reiner

INGREDIENTS:

  • 750-ml bottle Zafra 21-Year-Old Rum
  • 10 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 10 oz Fresh pineapple juice
  • 6.5 oz Allspice syrup*
  • 6.5 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
  • 750-ml bottle Champagne
  • Garnish: An abundance of lime wheels and pineapple cubes
  • Glass: Punch cup

PREPARATION:

Add all the ingredients to a punch bowl filled with a large block of ice. Gently stir the ingredients together and garnish with lime wheels and pineapple cubes.

*Allspice Syrup

In a spice grinder, grind 4 ounces of whole allspice. Add this to one liter of room temperature simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water). Let the mixture stand for 20 minutes and then fine strain it through a chinois. Store it in the refrigerator.

 

Gary Regan is the author of numerous books about spirits and cocktails, including The Joy of Mixology and The Bartender’s Gin Compendium. He is also co-host of ArdentSpirits.com and Liquor.com advisor.

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  1. […] there’s so many wonderful women in the industry. And before I moved here I worked with Julie [Reiner] in New York who is frickin amazing. She is so good at creating cocktails, she will teach you how to […]

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