Branded content for Perrier's former content marketing platform, Société Perrier.
With more than 10 years spent honing his craft, Jan Warren is setting the standard for fine cocktails at the beloved 19th-century throwback Dutch Kills Bar in Long Island City. In addition to serving a loyal following in Queens, Warren has developed the cocktail list for Mayfield Restaurant in Crown Heights and also co-hosts the new viral web series Animals Eating Animals.
Société Perrier: How did you start bartending?
Jan Warren: A series of terrible life decisions and failures led me to bartending. I ended up cooking for a few years, which attunes you to wanting to do things very well or you feel like a f***ing failure. When I wanted to stop cooking, bartending was a viable option for me, but I needed to do it on a different level than I had previously done it. Cooking really taught me the need for excellence, and you know, the way I bartend is excellent.
SP: What was the cocktail that turned you on to this style of bartending?
JW: It’s embarrassing because it was a pretty girly cocktail. I remember drinking an East Side cocktail at Little Branch, which is a gin gimlet with cucumber and mint. It’s just a super fresh, clean and very simple thing with very elemental flavors. If it’s made well, it’s made with good booze and fresh lime juice. It feels like you’re doing something good for your body while you’re getting drunk, which is nice.
SP: What brought you to Dutch Kills?
JW: One of the owners here, Richard Boccato, is one of the people who really taught me about fine cocktails. He worked at Little Branch seven or eight years ago with a crew of bartenders who are now basically all owners of great bars all over the world. I worked at kind of a crappy night club across the street and Little Branch was my little piece of heaven. I became really good friends with all the guys who worked there. When Richie opened this place he needed a guy, and I got in here.
SP: Where do you get your inspiration from?
JW: We try to stay really close to classic formulas. Small modifications to those recipes can really go a long way. That’s what we try to do here. We keep it pretty simple and classic.
SP: How do you gauge what to make a customer who wants Bartender’s Choice?
JW: The biggest mistake people make is that they come in and they’re f***ing goofy about it. They say things like, “My favorite movie is Harold and Maude. And so make me something.” And I’m like...no...flavor! I wanna know what flavors you like, what kind of booze you like. I don’t want to know what your favorite color is. I don’t want to know who your favorite fashion designer is. Make it simple for me, and I will make something good for you.
SP: You open most of the episodes of Animals Eating Animals by mixing a cocktail; how do you go about pairing a cocktail with ghost pepper curry or lamb’s brains?
JW: I was thinking more of the name of the cocktail for the Egyptian food episode—it’s called an African Flower. I don’t know if that necessarily paired with lamb testicle, but I made the connection through the name.
SP: What’s next for the Animals crew?
JW: Wealth, fame, success and food groupies for my co-host, Jeff.
SP: And your favorite drink?