Published on August 20th, 2012 | by Dipsology0
Bartender Spotlight: Aaron Polsky
Bartender at Amor y Amargo, Head Bartender at Neta
A bitters bar and an upscale Japanese omakase restaurant. Aaron Polsky has not chosen the most conventional of places to make cocktails. And the cocktails he’s making there are anything but.
At Neta, he’s infusing sake with seaweed and kelp, and cognac with black truffles. At Amor y Amargo, he mixes up stirred drinks from ingredients with names like Cynar, Amaro CioCiaro and Amaro Nonino. And although you might have trouble pronouncing their names, Aaron will be delighted to introduce you to all of them.
Aaron starting out hosting at the iconic speakeasy Milk & Honey, then bartended at Sasha Petraske’s other location White Star (now closed), where he learned the classics. He also spent time at the Top of the Standard (learning about speed) and Eleven Madison Park.
Of his work as head bartender at Neta, Aaron says he “wants to shift the paradigm” of cocktails, experimenting with “flavorful, non-alcoholic liquids used as modifiers”, like teas or infusions that are “balanced and clean.” Part of this stems from a desire to make cocktails that can be paired with food, and don’t “annihilate the palate” like strong, boozy drinks. He also sees this as a larger trend of people using new ingredients, like spices and pepper as well as “new dimensions of flavor,” especially umami.
“You go to wd~50, or Noma [in Copenhagen] or Alinea [in Chicago] and it’s food, but it’s different. It’s like nothing you’ve ever had before. You can experiment, be different,” he says. “Amor makes you think very critically about what you’re using because you can only use bottled ingredients – there is no lemon or sugar. At Neta, the challenge is how can you be different with anything you want at your disposal.” Aaron’s answer is to use inherently balanced ingredients, instead of ones that need each other. So instead of lemon and sugar, using carrot juice, or teas. He’s even testing out a bonito-infused cocktail. Talk about redefining food and beverage pairings.
A few fun things about Aaron:
If you had to choose one cocktail for the rest of our life, what is it?
The Last One at the Experimental Cocktail Club
When not at your own bar, where are you and what are you drinking?
At Proletariat, or Mission Chinese or Osteria Morini – drinking beer, wine and cocktails
Bar where you would most like to guest shift?
Favorite bar snack?
Last stop after a late night out?
South Brooklyn Pizza
I like to play full albums of lots of different styles, depending on the room and the mood (You can check this out on Full Album Mondays when Aaron is behind the bar at Amor y Amargo)
Are you a bartender, a mixologist or other?
I’m whatever you want to call me.