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Master Mixologist: TRAVIS ST. GERMAIN Bartender at Clover Club and Consultant with Yaguara Cachaça

Travis St. Germain has been working as a bartender at Clover Club in New York City for three years. His career in hospitality began over a decade ago in southern Maine where he worked in a number of roles in both the front and back of house operations in bars, restaurants, and hotels.

After working for many years in coastal New England, Travis decided to move to New York City to further his career in 2010. After touring the city's many great eating and drinking establishments, Travis became particularly interested in the progressive bar scene. During this time, he met Brad Farran, who was then the Head Bartender of Julie Reiner's Clover Club, and was offered a position as a bar back, which, of course, he jumped at. He quickly worked his way up to the role of Bartender under the guidance of Julie and Tom Macy, Clover Club's current Head Bartender.

Travis has also worked under Meaghan Doorman at Raines Law Room in Chelsea and at Tales of the Cocktail in the Apprentice Program in 2014. Currently, Travis continues to bartend at Clover Club and is the Brand Consultant for Yaguara Cachaça.

Broadwayworld.com had the opportunity to interview Travis St. Germain about his career.

When did you first become interested in the cocktail culture?

I came to New York City on a trip to visit friends about six years ago. Once here, I was taken to a bar called Clover Club in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn (the bar where I now work) where I watched a bartender by the name of Brad Farran mix dozens of beautifully put together drinks. He was using all kinds of strange looking tools and bottles of booze I'd never seen before, and to my amazement they were absolutely delicious. Before this encounter, my experience in drinking alcohol was that the fewer ingredients in your glass the better, and the best number of ingredients was one. It took Mr. Farran less than an hour to prove my outlook on drinking a lousy one.

What innovations in mixology and bartending do you find fascinating?

I feel very lucky to live in New York City, we have so many great bars, and talented bartenders do new things every day. It's almost impossible to keep up with all of the trends and innovations. Here, we not only have access to a vast array of produce from all over the world, but we are also privileged to have almost every liquor and liqueur brand start its journey into the U.S. market here as well. We often get to be the first Americans to play with a new amaro, or baijiu, or cachaça.

How do restaurant and bar guests encourage your creativity?

Most of the guests at fine cocktail establishments are very well versed in classic cocktails. It's not as easy to impress someone with a once lesser-known classic, as I'm sure it was a decade ago when the cocktail culture began to boom here in New York. Now we are stuck pushing ourselves to stranger corners of the liquor cabinet to find new flavors for our guests. That being said, there are always the guests that have never tried a Martinez, or a Boulevardier, yet they insist on you making a "new" cocktail just for them. In this case the demand is usually followed by a list of ingredients they want included in the drink. More often than not the list is cringe worthy, and leads to a true challenge to try and make something that you can be proud to serve. If I am behind the bar on a Friday night with dozens of thirsty guests, I might ask the guest to try something from our menu, of suggest something similar, or including only one of the requested ingredients. However, if I have the time I love playing around with seemingly impossible requests.

What are your preferred "classic cocktails" and why?

The bamboo is my favorite thing to drink right now. Its over a hundred years old and rarely made the same way at two different bars, or two different bartenders at the same bar. Most people agree that it should be made of equal parts sherry and vermouth, contain at least orange bitters, some also include angostura. This is where the agreement ends. With dozens of styles of vermouth and Sherries to choose from, as well as some preferring an orange twist to a lemon, there are hundreds of possibilities. Another great thing about the Bamboo is the low alcohol. This is a cocktail that you can try many different versions of in one night without over doing it.

What are some of your favorite infusions and how you like to use them in drinks?

I like to infuse teas into vermouths. And then make highballs out of them. My favorite is genmaicha infused into bianco vermouth. Genmaicha is a green tea with toasted rice. That and some soda water is a great afternoon pick up.

Tell us about a few of your signature cocktails and why they are distinctive.

I like to make cocktails with a vast variety of spirits and juices, I was recently on a trip in brazil that has inspired me to use lots of tropical fruits, and a healthy dose of Cachaça. Some of my recent concoctions can be found at both Clover Club, and B54 in Times Square.

Give us your perfect pairing for a cocktail and a culinary selection.

The all time best pairing of a cocktail and a meal is an under cooked steak with a Gibson.

Tell us a little about your company or restaurant.

Clover Club is located at 210 Smith St. in Brooklyn, NY and Yaguara Cachaça is a premium cachaça from Brazil.

To learn more about Yaguara Cachaca, visit their web site at http://cachacayaguara.com/EN/verify.html. To learn more about Clover Club in Brooklyn, visit https://cloverclubny.com/.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Travis St. Germain

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