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April 2020

Ray Mozak - Bar Manager Novikov Miami

 How did you discover your career?

I grew up in a family-owned bar/restaurant that had nothing but chicken wings, burgers, and beer. Nothing really fancy, but I loved the hospitality aspect of it. I started bussing tables and bar backing.  I was also in the kitchen, but where I really felt most at home was at the bar. I loved the regulars coming in on a Friday night.  They’d listen to my stories and talk about their plans for the weekend and so on. I had a great time behind the bar. Believe it or not, I’m kind of a loner by nature.  When I’m not at work, I shut-in at home and am focused on whatever I need to do there. So it was a way for me to kind of open up and be more of a social butterfly. I love serving drinks and getting to meet people.

Growing up in northern New York, Rochester. There were no opportunities for me to build knowledge there, everything was just beer and wine and some spirits, but people didn’t want craft cocktails back then. Then one day I decided to quit my job and travel.  I did that for a year and then I was like “Ok, it’s time to move back to Rochester and start a career, a new life, and reinvent myself.” Not long after returning, I was like “Alright, just one more vacation and then I’m going to do this for real!” I went on Expedia and found a special package flight and hotel for a $600 weekend to Miami. I’d never been there so I figured, why not, let’s go explore Miami!

When I came down here, I just immediately loved it. The whole craft cocktail scene was booming. I’d go to hotel lobby bars and ask the bartenders what things were. They were making so many cocktails I’d never even heard about. It was really exciting for me because they were doing the same things I was doing at home, but at the next level. They were interacting with and educating the guest at the same time. That’s when I fell in love with the craft and realized it was more than just a job for me. I continued to come down to Miami and, after the 3rd trip, found a realtor and told her I needed to move here as soon as possible. I went back to Rochester and she called a few days later to say she had the perfect apartment. So I did what I had to do in Rochester and moved to Miami. 

I didn’t think I was going to find a job right away, but I found one within 3 hours of landing, I really did. The realtor picked me up, showed me my place, signed the lease, we did the walkthrough and then she pointed me in the direction of a furniture store because I came with nothing but my dog and 2 suitcases, so I needed a bed. On the way, I walked into a bar on 16th and Collins and walked out with a job. I told them I was from New York, that I was a bartender and have done this for a while and they said: “We like New Yorkers, they’re hard workers, can you start next week?”  And that’s how my career started in Miami. 

When did you develop a love for mixology?

It was when I found a job at 1 Hotel.  They had recently opened Beachcraft and I worked for the beverage director there, Charles Steadman.  He became my idol, the way he was talking about beverages, cocktails, mixing things together, this guy knew everything!  I was star-struck and kept thinking: “How do I become that?” That’s when my love for mixology started, discovering that you can mix so many flavors, you can mix 2 opposite flavors and turn it into something totally different and it pairs well together. I worked under him for a year and then he moved somewhere else. But he was extremely inspiring. Beachcraft was all about garden-to-glass, a lot of the ingredients were grown right on the property, which got me into sustainability and thinking more innovatively. There are multiple layers of bartending and mixology. Personally, I don’t like the term “mixologist” very much. I’m more into it because of the hospitality, the opportunity to create a good cocktail by throwing ideas together.  As long as the flavors match and pair well and go nicely with the food, hey, I’m happy. I just made your day and took you on a journey you will remember for a long time. I was having the most fun pairing food and beverages together.

Now that you mention it, what would be your favorite F&B pairing?

Well, I like a lot of sashimi, sushi, and raw food and I’ll pair it with any cocktail with a little bit of yuzu and sake mixed together. It’s like a palate cleanser and then you can taste the fish more. It cuts the acidity on the fattier fish. That’s my favorite nowadays. A couple of years ago, I was into pairing fat washing Bourbon with steak fat. I’m currently trying to create a drink that pairs well with duck since we are famous for our Peking duck.

Which specialty cocktail would you recommend we try at Novikov?

I would say the Smoking Gun cocktail. I just created this for Coconut Cartel and it’s a really simple drink but with a lot of flavor. It comes with a flavor bubble on top, which pops and then you get the aroma. It’s made with a vapor gun that you can add essential oils to. Right now I have grapefruit, rosemary, and citrus. It’s fairly new, we launched it at the beginning of March and we’re still figuring out the bubble! It’s very temperamental, so I’d suggest trying it at the bar. As for the ingredients, they are super simple, just add a little bit of sweet vermouth to Coconut Cartel rum and some orange bitters, which make it a very palatable drink. I’d recommend trying it as a digestif or with our chocolate lava cake.

What is your main source of inspiration when you create cocktails for the menu?

I love to observe and learn about our guest’s preferences. We have an amazing beverage program with a lot of fascinating ingredients and techniques. In general, I find that our clientele wants a drink that is fast and tasteful. They love exotic ingredients or odd pairings like wasabi and vodka, or shiso and yuzu. Something very easy to make but high on flavor.  I came up with the Shiso: it’s pineapple, yuzu, and muddled shiso.  It’s super easy to make, it goes well with every single one of our sushi rolls, our sashimis, our raw fish, anything. Then, we have a lot of drinks inspired by the balloon glasses, since people love them. So we did Strawberry Spritz, with beautiful garnishes…when people see it passing by, they order it. We also did a take on Moscow Mule, with salted cucumber infusion, Ketel One Botanical, cucumber, mint, and salt. 

The Oaxacan Sun I’m very proud of.  If this is not the number one seller, it’s definitely the second. It’s made with Mezcal, passion fruit, agave, a little piece of serrano, and topped off with ginger beer.  

Which drink would you recommend for:

A. Girls’ night out: Strawberry Spritz or a Lychee Martini 

B. Gentlemen after work: Oaxacan Sun or El Gringo 

C. Couple’s first date: Sake. I would stay away from the cocktails, based on my experience. You don’t want to drink fast, right?

Which wine would you recommend by the glass?

I’m a big fan of Sancerre and Chablis, especially with our cuisine here. They pair very well with a lot of dishes. 

What’s next on the horizon for you?

Since I’m still young, I’m just happy to get through the day and go home, hug my fiance and think “ok, let’s do this all over again tomorrow.” But I’m open to anything and I don’t turn away opportunities either. I love my job. I’m very happy with what I do. I don’t look at it like a “job,” so I’m lucky in that sense. I’d love to grow in my career as a Manager, whether it’s as a Beverage Director or Restaurant Manager. I just want to grow as a person and be able to build a better team, be a better teacher and a better leader. That’s all I want to do.

 

  • Check Ray’s Instagram for easy DIY at home Cocktail Recipes at @drinksbyray
  • @Novikovmiami is currently selling their top specialty cocktails to-go, 18oz pouches with garnishes included $45 (serve 4) call, order, and pick up!. Enjoy an Old Fashion, Wasabi Martini, Agave Picante, or a Cosmopolitan

 

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Ron Barceló is the First Rum to Reach Carbon Neutral Status

The eco-conscious rum maker received this recognition based on the  Bilan Carbone® License

Ron Barceló Dominican rum, recently recognized as one of America’s fastest-growing spirit brands, has been a pioneer for ongoing education and action to climate change through its green-focused production. In honor of Earth Day’s 50th-anniversary theme #ClimateAction, Ron Barceló offers consumers an environmentally conscious product, and invites them to support and celebrate with the brands that take action, practice eco-friendly behaviors, and cherish Earth as a treasure that sustains and gives us life. 

As a result of its environmentally friendly practices, Ron Barceló proudly became the first rum in the world to obtain Carbon Neutral Status under the Bilan Carbone® License. Which measures 1) direct emissions caused by energy consumption, waste disposal, transport for workers and raw materials, etc. 2) indirect emissions due to production and transport of raw materials: glass, cardboard, metal, plastic, etc. and 3) indirect emissions related to commercial distribution of products and their final disposal.

Barceló employs several measures to reduce its emissions, including the use of renewable energy (solar and biomass), reusing, and recycling of manufacturing waste. More specifically, using the bagasse (residual cane pulp after the juice has been extracted) to help power the distillery, while the organic waste called vinasse fertilizes the sugar cane fields. Unreducible emissions are neutralized through a global offsetting program that is registered and certified within the framework of the Clean Development Mechanism and the Verified Carbon Standard. This is made possible by the assignment of carbon credits from several global projects. By offsetting their emissions, Barceló Rum promotes environmental protection through the use of clean technologies in other regions worldwide. 

Paying homage to the beautiful ecosystems of the Caribbean, Barceló inspires cocktail lovers with these recipes in honor of Earth Day. 

Ron Barceló is sold at major liquor and wine retailers across the US or simply order online now from Minibar, ReserveBar, Drizly, TotalWine, ThinkLiquor, or Caskers to receive in time for this celebratory occasion.

Barceló Quarantini

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1.5 oz Ron Barceló Dark Series

1 oz Aloe Vera Juice

1oz Cucumber water

 4 slices muddled cucumber  

Preparation:

Muddle cucumbers

In a shaker, add remaining ingredients, a cup of ice and shake vigorously

Strain into a martini glass. 

Add simple syrup to decrease strength of cocktail (optional)

PISTACHIO’S NEST

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2 oz Ron Barceló Gran Añejo

½ oz Chartreuse 

½ oz Pistachio syrup

½  oz Lemon juice 

1 Egg white 

Preparation

Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake vigorously

Strain into a champagne coupe

To create foam, use 2 egg whites and decorate with edible flowers (optional)

PIÑA ISOLADA

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2 oz Ron Barceló Dark Series

1 cup frozen pineapple

2 oz coconut cream

1 oz coconut water 

Preparation

In a blender, add all ingredients and blend until smooth and frosty

Pour into a daiquiri or tall glass 

Garnish rim with toasted coconuts and top off with coconut flakes (optional)

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Feeling Tipsy?

by intelprise

Here’s a list of local Bars and Foundations that can use your help, feel free to donate any amount you can. Your support will be appreciated.

USBG  https://bit.ly/3bajVWq 

All Day Foundation https://bit.ly/2VwM9ny 

Bar Spanglish https://bit.ly/2XCgQKO 

Better days https://bit.ly/3anfkit 

Broken Shaker https://bit.ly/34BUlXP 

Cafe La Trova https://bit.ly/2V61eO6 

Esotico https://bit.ly/3enmGpe 

Sweet Liberty https://bit.ly/2zeQzYN

The Anderson https://bit.ly/2zbi2dS 

The Sylvester https://bit.ly/2K3BBXZ 

You’ll be soon able to tip your bartender directly as well, as we’ll be sharing their Venmo/Zelle account. Do you want to collaborate in any other way? Send us an email at cheers@2ozmag.com or DM us, we are open to suggestions. Thank you!

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The best thing about COVID-19 confinement so far is, undoubtedly, the empathy, support and various relief resources provided by beverage and spirits-related institutions, companies, establishments and people throughout Miami.

We at 2ozmag wish to acknowledge and thank all those who have generously spurred movements and aid initiatives in our city.

One of the first to lead was Spanglish Bar which, in partnership with Grails and brands such as Topo Chico, Red Bull, Don Q, Redemption Whiskey, Cumbé, Courvoisier, Plantation, Ketel One, Rum Java and East Imperial, among others, has created a free meal program for all workers in the industry who are being left unemployed due to security measures necessitated by COVID-19.

Pernod Ricard USA has also been providing staff meals in partnership with small local businesses to aid both business owners and workers. Some of the participating restaurants so far are Lucali, DC Pie, Machialina, Baby Jane, Stiltsville, Beaker & Gray, Pizza Tropical, 27, Ariete, Nave, La Placita, Taquiza, Taquerias el Mexicano, Ball & Chain, Sweet Liberty, John Martins, Killer Melts at Yumbrella and Deli Lane.

USBG Miami Chapter has created a relief fund led by the USBG National Charity Fund for local bartenders and created a list of available resources they can apply to for aid during these challenging times.  Coconut Cartel is currently supporting the USBG funds by donating a percentage of their online sales until May 1st. 

The AMASS Storyteller Community is a newly launched online forum geared towards bartenders, creatives and other spirited supporters of the AMASS brand.  Formed in response to the sudden closures of bars and restaurants, members now have a resource for continuing to trade stories and information as well as for accessing everything from unemployment help to at-home cocktail ideas. Mid-March, AMASS introduced an alcohol-based botanic hand wash and partnered with hospitals and non-profits nationwide to provide hand wash to those who need it most. Industry folks looking to get involved and generate extra income during this time can join the Storyteller Affiliate Program, in which members earn 20% commission on all converted sales of their hand wash.

Mixology Ice, a small local business, is contributing its specialty ice to bartenders producing creative digital content.

Montserrat Franco from Volcán de mi Tierra Tequila, Natalia Cardenas from Woodford Whiskey and Maria Camila Ruiz from Bruxo Mezcal, some of our local brand ambassadors, created care packages to brighten up a bartenders’ day and make their stay-at-home more productive.  They included bottles, various goodies and even customized notes for an extra-personal touch: “Our mission is to serve others and deliver happiness. We are living in historic times when, more than ever, we need to check on friends and loved ones, call them, see how they are. Solidarity comes not only from material resources but also from a kind word or a thoughtful message.  Until we are physically reunited, we can best support each other with an open heart,” said Franco.

Each day we are witnessing new ways in which businesses are accommodating their models in order to stay open while creating relief funds to assist their employees, new webinars to educate, virtual meetings, virtual parties, and more. Right now, empathy and social connection have never been more vital or more healing.

We invite you to stay tuned as we’ll be sharing as much information as we possibly can to help spread the word about initiatives as well as how we can best serve our community during this time. We always welcome suggestions and collaborations.  Let’s keep our spirits up until we can revel out-of-doors once again.

These are some IG accounts you can follow for staff meal updates and general information:

@Cityofmiami

@Usbgmiami

@BarSpanglish

@grailsmiami

@hector_cuco_acevedo

@The_Jameson_guy

@montserratfranco

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Nails and Wine with Allegra

We met up with Allegra Angelo at The Vanity Project nail salon to chat about her long-time twin obsessions: nails and wine. 

Hi Allegra, thank you for letting us enjoy this afternoon with you! Let’s start with the basics.  Tell us a little bit about your background:

I have been in the hospitality industry my entire life. I grew up in Connecticut and went to a New England prep school. When most kids were off at exotic summer camps, I landed my first summer job at Dunkin’ Donuts. It sounds silly, but since then I was hooked on the service industry.  Later on, when I was 23 and in culinary school, I discovered the pleasures of wine (I never drank in high school or college). I didn’t realize that wine overlapped with so many professions until I worked at Jean-Georges in New York City. It was there, working as a pastry chef, that I got my first peek into the life of a sommelier. I was intrigued.

I planted my seeds as a sommelier in Miami, thankfully interrupted by a four-year stint in San Francisco, a city and community that allowed me to sharpen my skills, not only in wine but also in business and technology. I was able to be the head sommelier and a manager for a restaurant group, work as a sales director and web editor for a national importer, as well as create my own wine and beauty pop-up. When I returned to Miami, I tried to open my own project but failed several times. Then, through a mutual friend, I was fortunate to meet Nick Garcia and Mauricio Garavno – the true enablers and creators of Vinya. It’s as if they had the recipe for the cake, then I came along with the rainbow sprinkles and the ribbons.

How did your fascination with nails start?

It might sound vain but I love anything related to beauty and self-pampering. I don’t know why, but I’m also intrigued by the beauty and wellness industry. It’s fascinating to me. When I was in San Francisco, I went to this salon in my neighborhood called Sugar Coat. I loved it so I’d go every Sunday, which was my day off. When you work in the hospitality industry, your day off is so sacred and precious, I wanted to pamper myself by getting a manicure and pedicure. Also, having my nails done and hands cared for gives me that added confidence to sell a good wine. So I just became obsessed with this place! 

What I learned from going to salons in San Francisco is that they are very gender neutral. Everybody goes.  Females, males, straight males…I even got my father to get a pedicure done! 

It’s not just about getting your nails done, it’s an escape, like going to the movies. It’s an “I feel good, happy, safe” place. The same feeling you get when you go to a hotel and jump in the bed or open that little fridge. 

I started going to more salons in San Francisco and it got me thinking that I wanted to pour wine in a salon. Since I was a frequent client at Sugar Coat and had met the owner, I started inquiring there.  The owner was traveling in Vietnam, but I met with the managers a bunch of times with a 3-page plan explaining my idea for pouring wine and selling tickets. They were confused by it and because the owner was absent it was a dead-end. I started emailing all the top nails salons in San Francisco, like 20 different salons. This was back in December 2015. The only person who emailed me back was the owner of a salon called Za Za.  She told me she had a beer and wine license, so we met up that January and started doing events together. Since I was obsessed with the name Sugar Coat, we called it Bottle Coat and sold tickets for a pedicure with wine.  We did these events for almost 2 years. It’s the same industry as wine. It’s hospitality, service, beauty. So I felt it was a workable connection. 

What was the best part of doing these events?

I think it was the refreshing factor.  I’m serving and engaging people with wine outside of the restaurant scene and it was so much fun to do! Here I am at the nail salon, acting like a sommelier, pouring people wine and getting people to buy wine. 

What were peoples’ reactions towards the event?

They loved it! I think it was the surprise of going to a nail salon and being poured a biodynamic Rose from Provence that you cannot get anywhere else or an amazing glass of Chablis or this tiny, little-known producer of Pinot, etc. In an unexpected way, I was connecting with the right clientele. These were people who were willing to pay $35 for a nice manicure, versus $20.  They were the same people who were likely to spend $20 on a bottle of wine, rather than $9.

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Would you say there’s a similar relationship between the nail artist and the client as there is between the bartender and guest in a bar?

It’s very similar in that you want to engage in a conversation, but not too much because you don’t want to interrupt what they are doing, especially at the moment when they are focused on their craft.  Still, you are having a conversation and getting to know each other and it’s a mutual, feel-good experience. 

Which wines are you drinking these days? Any specific region?

I try to drink a little bit of everything to keep my palate flexible and engaged, but lately I’ve been drinking a lot of regional Burgundy wines, like Bourgogne, Coteaux Bourguignons and Hautes-Côtes de Nuits, the whites or reds.  

What do you foresee as the next big trend in wine?

I’m hesitant about supporting trends because they are not necessarily indicative of quality. I am, though, passionate about the renewed interest in “fine wine.” This was a term that producers, importers, and sommeliers worked hard to promote in the 20th century, until trends like spritzes, canned wine, a booming cocktail culture, and even the natural wine movement shuffled “fine wine” to the back of the deck. To me, fine wines from classic regions like Rioja, Chianti Classico, the Wachau, the Mâconnais, Alsace, and Bordeaux (and so many others) are like your jean jacket, high-top Nikes, or black velvet blazer: critical essentials and reliably high-quality!   

Which are your go-to places in Miami for a nice wine-by-the-glass selection? 

That’s a tough one because we need more of them! There is a wide-open lane in Miami for restaurants that stand by fine wine and a professional sommelier who can drive sales and develop a contagious wine culture. To me, the places that truly “get it” are: Macchialina, the Genuine Hospitality Group, Le Jardinier, Fooq’s, Zuma, Fiola, Nave, Proper Sausages, and, mainly for their aggressive pricing model (not selection), the Hillstone’s Group.  

What are your favorite wine tasting events in Miami? 

I tend to lay low (I’m not fond of crowds), so my favorite is my wine-tasting group called “Les Punts.”

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What’s your opinion on the state of wine education and consumption in Miami?

In terms of the consumer, people tend to be addicted to information wrapped in a fun, engaging setting. In terms of the buyer or sommelier, we can’t solely rely on seminars or events to catalog knowledge; it’s up to everyone to push themselves individually, whether that means getting up 30 minutes earlier each day or staying up later each night to do the research and dive into the grit. Overall, the community is much more rich and layered than it was 5 years ago, but the top is an upward moving target; we’ve got a ton of work ahead of us if we want to be respected at an international level.

What are you currently doing? Where can we find you?

I am currently the sommelier of Vinya Wine. Soon you’ll be able to find me on the floor at Vinya Food and Drink, but for now you can find me at allegra@vinyawine.com Email me!

You’ve made strides in hospitality, nail and wine events and now you are starting Vinya.  What’s next on your agenda? 

I’d definitely like to write a book, but not a wine book. I started a draft three years ago and will finish it one of these days! It’s a fictitious, humorous coming-of-age story with elements of wine, food, and drink seamlessly woven into the novel!

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