Tag Archives: Brian Rea

An Excerpt from Brian Rea’s B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S.

Many will tell you that mixing great drinks is an art form.  We beg to differ.  While there certainly is an art to mixology – the crafting of new recipes – mixing drinks is really more of a craft than an art.  The difference?  A craft is skill that, with training and practice, can be learned and mastered.

Take, for instance, the case of Brian Rea, a bartending and bar management legend who certainly didn’t start out that way.  Although we know the man of today, Brian was kind enough to share one of the less-than-masterful moments from his early days behind the bar.  This excerpt is from Rea’s forthcoming book, B.A.S.T.A.R.D.S. (Bars and Saloons, Taverns and Random Drink Stories), which chronicles both the history of the bar and Brian’s personal experiences behind it.

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12 Rounds With… Brian Rea

By Lesley Jacobs Solmonson


What becomes a legend most?  In the case of Brian Rea, winner of the 2010 Tales of the Cocktail Lifetime Achievement Award, the answer is sheer breadth of experience – the man has done every job out there.  A walking history book of the beverage industry, Rea has tended bar, as he says, “in gin mills, waterfront bars, saloons, nightclubs, taverns, hooker bars, (and) gourmet restaurants.”  Perhaps most importantly, he was head barman at the 21 Club – for those of you youngsters, the 21 was the quintessential New York restaurant/bar from its early history as a speakeasy (it had an “invisible” wine cellar) to its modern iteration as one of Manhattan’s classic watering holes. Read More…

In Good Hands – Part Two

If there’s one reason to do a blog like this, it’s the people we get to meet.  As I mentioned in Part 1, it’s the egalitarian nature of the cocktail that lured us in and keeps us coming back for more.  No matter who you are – even if you’re some Johnny-come-lately blogger – as long as you can appreciate the simple art of combining this with that via a flick of the wrist, well, you’ve got all the credentials you need to join the club.  At least, that’s how other people seem to treat us. Read More…