Bar Cyrk head mixologist Miguel Aranda had humble beginnings in the NYC restaurant industry. “I started with Geoffrey Zakarian as a dishwasher quite a while ago at TOWN,” he says. From there he ventured into the kitchen to do prep work before moving his way over to barbacking. It was there that he met Albert Trummer, the industry vet whom he trained under for several years. Here, we chat with the Mexico City native about his favorite ingredient of the moment, two Bar Cyrk cocktails worth the splurge, and why the party should always be at his place.
BoozeMenus: What did you consider most when creating the drinks list for Bar Cyrk?
Miguel Aranda: I focus on simplicity and balance. I don’t like to get overly complicated. The end goal is a spectacular and well-balanced cocktail achieved though strong choices and technique that also work with Bar Cyrk’s concept. The name “Bar Cyrk” is a play on "berserk," which celebrates the circus that is New York City.
BM: Any cool stories or inspirations behind any of the drinks that you can share with us?
MA: Right now Bar Cyrk’s cocktail list consists of 25 cocktails that are all named with Circus themes. In addition to the diverse seasonal menu, there are also a lot of drinks that we make that are not on the Bar Cyrk menu. Many of our regular guests know we make special drinks just for them and are not in print because they’re personalized to that guest.
BM: Which cocktail do you feel most personally connected to?
MA: The Ms. Rosemary Gimlet. It’s very aromatic, sweet and goes great with our food —especially with Bar Cyrk’s pizzas.
BM: What was the biggest lesson you learned from Albert Trummer?
MA: Albert is an incredible showman. Part of a great bar experience is the pleasure of watching a great bartender. It’s something I learned working with Albert and is very appropriate at Bar Cyrk.
BM: What ingredient, lately, has been the most fun for you to work with?
MA: Saffron. It’s very bright and flavorful and makes an elegant tincture.
BM: How do you determine when to source an ingredient vs. when to make one in-house?
MA: Bar Cyrk has some amazing purveyors, and we work very closely with them to get the finest ingredients. We make our own tinctures and infusions, but whether we make them or source them, excellent ingredients are essential.
BM: Can you tell us about the last two drinks on the list — and what deems them to be priced at $18 instead of $15? We don’t doubt they’re packing high quality goods – we’re just curious to know what they are.
MA: We try very hard to offer excellent prices in general, so we can be accessible to the vast majority of patrons. The two cocktails you asked about are the more costly to make, but are also a great value. We try to avoid pricier recipes unless they are truly exceptional, and that is the case with the Saffron Old Fashioned and the Artichoke Negroni.
The Saffron Old Fashioned uses the highest-grade saffron. Saffron adds such a beautiful twist to the old fashioned and makes an absolutely great cocktail. Saffron is one of the most expensive spices there is, and that adds to the cost. We actually offer a great price on that cocktail.
As for the Artichoke Negroni, we make our own artichoke vermouth with the best quality artichokes. That process and the ingredients make it a really special cocktail and add to the cost.
BM: On an average work night, when's bedtime?
MA: Around 4am.
BM: What are you craving post-work, and where are you going for it?
MA: Are you kidding? I see our pizzas all night long. A slice of Bar Cyrk’s pizza!
BM: When you have guests over, what are you making them?
MA: Anything they want.
By Nicole Schnitzler
(Photos courtesy of Bar Cyrk | From Left: Matcha Cocktail; Bar Cyrk Interior; Miguel Aranda)