Maite bartender Monty Washington came to New York to pursue a career in acting, but conversations within the industry quickly led him to the bartending scene. “Bartending was a way to keep my ear to the ground, as most performers are involved in one form of the food and drink world at any given time,” he says. The constant spotlight didn’t hurt, either. “It was also a great way to keep my own performing skills in practice — I find there’s little difference in being behind the bar compared to being on stage.” Here, the Charlottesville native chats about his favorite cocktail, the spirit he could do without, and the city he’s clamoring to get to.
BoozeMenus: What’s the first thing you do when you start your shift?
Monty Washington: Juice fresh ingredients for cocktails.
BM: What's your Go-to Pandora/Spotify station?
MW: The Best of Basque on Spotify.
BM: What cocktail on the menu has your name written all over it?
MW: The Maite, which is made with bison grass vodka, homemade apple cider, and lemon balm. It’s not like anything I’ve had before, and its main spirit is vodka, which I don't often go for — an earthy, rich, bison grass vodka.
BM: Which cocktail took the longest to perfect?
MW: The Satan's Circus, which is comprised of lemon, cherry, Aperol, and rye, is one of my favorites. It took a while not to just get it right, but also to make it how I had experienced it the very first time.
BM: What spirit is your favorite to work with, and which spirit is your least favorite to work with?
MW: St. Germain is my favorite. It goes well with everything, more or less — it’s like bartender’s ketchup. On the other hand, I hate Fireball. It’s too gimmicky, and it brings in the sloppy crowd.
BM: When's the last time you were inspired to create something behind the bar, and what was that process like?
MW: At least once a week someone will ask you to surprise them, and that’s when the beauty of having a full bar really shines through. Having all of those spirits at your disposal grants you the opportunity to dazzle.
BM: If you find yourself with 3-4 free hours during the day, what are you doing with them?
MW: Most likely reading Game of Thrones. I'm a bit obsessed.
BM: What food and cocktail pairing at the restaurant is your favorite right now?
MW: The Maite and the duck egg. The duck egg is a very hearty dish, and the Maite is very light — but they complement each other in a smooth way.
BM: What's been a favorite moment behind the bar for you, so far?
MW: Getting to know my coworkers has been a blast. They are a bright and fun bunch of people to work with.
BM: Where are you traveling next?
MW: Berlin, ASAP! I've always wanted to go, and maybe by the end of summer I’ll be able to get there.
BM: What spirit are you wanting more of right now?
MW: Ancho Reyes. It’s spicy, smooth, and everything good.
By Nicole Schnitzler
(Photos from left: Cocktail; Monty Washington; Interior)