Episode 086 - Sam Vieira

Guild Hall.jpg

What’s shakin, cocktail fans?

Welcome back to another episode of The Modern Bar Cart Podcast!

Thanks for joining us for another interview episode, where we break down the tools and techniques that make great cocktails - and great home bartenders.

Recently, we’ve been talking with a lot of industry experts - from distillers, to bartenders, from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. This time around, we switch things up a bit and get back to basics with home bartender Sam Vieira at Guild Hall in Burbank, CA. Some of the things he and I discuss during this interview include:

  • How Sam made his way to spirits & cocktails via the wide world of fermented beverages, even dipping his toes into the world of brewing.

  • Which experiments, bottles, and equipment buys made the greatest impacts on his home cocktail game early on.

  • Best practices for cobbler shaker and boston shaker usage, maintenance, and safety.

  • The record-keeping practice that Sam developed, first on paper and then in the digital space, to help build his cocktail repertoire and expand his library of flavors and recipes.

  • A few tips on taking your tasting notes game to the next level

  • What to drink with Wilford Brimley, of Walker Texas Ranger fame.

  • And much, much more.

This episode was recorded at a really cool bar in Burbank called Guild Hall, and in next week’s episode, we’re going to learn a lot more about how cocktails and eSports go together.

You can follow Guild Hall on Instagram (@theguildhallbar) and you can follow Sam (@inglefinger) or check out his tasting notes at dramsndrinks.wordpress.com.

Featured Cocktail: The Vesper

This week’s featured cocktail is the Vesper Martini, which is a drink that figures prominently in this episode.

Vesper Martini.jpg

Now, the Vesper is in the Martini family, and it’s somewhat controversial because it’s inevitably affiliated with James Bond and his “shaken, not stirred” mantra, which immediately alienates and inflames martini purists. And if you’ve ever had the misfortune of dealing with a martini snob - they’re a very special brand of snooty.

Nonetheless, we’ll give the Vesper cocktail it’s due, because it also happens to be perhaps my favorite martini variation. To make one, you’ll need:

  • 3 oz Gin (I like a London Dry style, or at the very least something with a decent amount of juniper)

  • 1 oz Vodka

  • ½ oz Lillet Blanc (which is a sweet, mellow aperitif from France)

The controversy with this drink is whether to shake it or stir it. And I think this is mostly because Ian Fleming’s James Bond is a bit of an untrustworthy narrator - or, put differently, he’s not an expert mixologist. So what do we do here - do we follow the spy’s instructions and shake, or do we pat him on the head and tell him to focus on saving the world while the adults run the bar?

The answer may not be clear, buut across the board, everyone seems to agree that the best garnish for a Vesper is a big, generous lemon twist.

Show Notes

In this interview, we cover quite a bit of gound. Below is a list of links to some of the spirits, bars, and cocktails we mention, as well as some helpful links to help you dive deep into the subjects we speak about.

Sam Vieira Notebook

These are a couple shots of Sam’s handmade tasting journal. You can check out his digital archive at dramsndrinks.wordpress.com or you can pick up a copy of The Essential Tasting Journal For Spirits & Cocktails if you’re looking for a tool to help you take better tasting notes.

Lightning Round

Favorite Cocktail

Cold/Rainy - Negroni, Warm/Sunny - Classic Daiquiri

If You Were a Cocktail Ingredient, What Would You Be?

Carpano Antica Formula vermouth, because I’m complex but sweet.

Cocktail with Anyone, Past or Present

Wilford Brimley - I’d get a cocktail and he’d be drinking straight bourbon.

Influential Cocktail Books

The Gentleman’s Companion - Charles Baker

Advice to New Home Bartenders

Don’t get discouraged, and be bold. There’s no need to get turned off to an entire category of flavors just because you make one or two mistakes.