In anticipation for the April opening of Wildhawk Bar, partner Jacques Bezuidenhout reveals his favorite classic cocktails and his essentials for his at-home bar.
What is your favorite cocktail to order at the bar when you go out?
I have three that I order regularly depending on what kind of bar I’m walking into. I cannot just have one. Generally a Negroni is one of my favorites, followed by a Margarita and a good Martini. For me, these three classics, if made well, will always put a smile on my face and make the days’ stresses disappear. They are timeless and very tasty!
Why are these your favorites when you’re out?
Most bars can make a Negroni, even if they don’t, they can be helped with a little direction. Then I love a great Margarita, but that really depends if the bar does fresh squeezed lime juice and if they carry quality Tequila. If that is the case, I will thoroughly enjoy a Margarita or two. Then lastly, I love a well-made Martini, I am very careful when ordering this cocktail. Most bars can make a good Martini, but few can make a great Martini. It is one of those drinks that require some passion and attention to detail. It can truly set the good bartenders from the great bartenders.
What two things do you stock at your bar at home, that people don’t necessarily think to have or generally own?
A couple of things every home bar should have is a mixing glass and a home juicer. Get a nice mixing glass (Cocktail Kingdom), this will help you stir all sorts of great drinks from Martini’s to Manhattan’s. It is a great piece of equipment to have and looks great on your bar. Then always have a hand juicer for juicing limes, lemons or grapefruits. Do not ever, ever, ever buy pre-mixed citrus. The hand juicer ensures delightful fresh-squeezed juice, which makes for a much better cocktail experience. It takes a little extra effort but the pay-off is well worth it.
What do you think would make someone’s home bar a bit extra special?
For me it is not really a specific ingredient – I believe that is a very personal thing. If you love Gin then stock a great selection. Although, it is always handy to have a small selection of bitters and at the very least Angostura.