Pursuitist sat down with Jason to chat all things cocktail inspiration, secrets to success and the best cocktail bars.
Pursuitist: Where do you derive your inspiration from your cocktails?
Jason Hedges: I derive my inspiration for cocktails from multiple sources. I first look to incorporate seasonal ingredients into my creations. I believe using fresh, local produce, whether on the culinary or beverage side brings out the best flavors. I also draw inspiration from exploring different culinary traditions and cultures and often speak with chef’s and fellow bartenders to learn as much as I can about traditional and not-traditional flavor combinations and techniques–all this while staying attuned to what’s going on around me in the beverage world and what types of innovation of flavors and presentations are captivating and exciting our guests.
How has the culinary and mixology scene evolved in the last few years? Where do you see it going?
There has been a focus on using high-quality, local, and sustainable ingredients, which has led to a farm-to-glass approach in cocktail making. There has also been a broader integration of culinary techniques into mixology, such as fat-washing, clarification, spherification, and things like that resulting in a fusion of tastes and textures of all stripes. I’ve noticed, as well, a growing emphasis on making cocktails more approachable and tailored to individual preferences, with customizations and personalization becoming more common. Looking forward, I sense the cocktail scene will continue to integrate more experimental techniques, flavors, and presentations, pushing the boundaries of cocktail creativity.
What is your secret to your success behind the bar?
The secret to my success behind the bar lies in a combination of factors. I believe in constantly learning and honing my craft. I also regularly check out new bars and restaurants, attend industry events, workshops, and seminars–all this helps me evolve and stay updated with the beverage world around me. Perhaps even more importantly, I prioritize the guest experience by anticipating needs while also striving to provide the most convivial and memorable guest experience possible. From a technical standpoint, I maintain a strong foundation of classic cocktail knowledge. This provides a solid base to build upon and experiment with new flavors. Finally, teamwork and collaboration are essential. I work closely with my team to ensure innovation, seamless service, and a welcoming atmosphere.
What are the best cocktail bars – besides yours – in your city?
There is certainly no dearth of exceptional cocktail bars in New York City. Some of my favorites include Angel’s Share, Attaboy, Double Chicken Please, Death & Co, Katana Kitten, Dante, Martiny’s, Leyanda to name a few.
What cocktail destinations are on your bucket list?
I’m planning a trip to Mexico City and can’t wait to hit places like, Handshake Speakeasy, Licoreria Limantour, Hanky Panky, Baltra Bar.
To learn more about Jason, please visit Bar-IQ.com.
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