There’s nothing quite like capping off a long, taxing work week by unwinding with a cocktail – but with so many brands of spirits and liquors of varying qualities and a breadth of drink menu options, it can be tough to decide exactly which cocktail to choose (and how to order it!). We sat down with Céline Bossart, STAYCATIONERS founder and aficionado on all things travel, food, culture, and everything in between, to share a bit about her experience, as well as some insight on our favorite spirit, whiskey, and cocktails, in general.
With unparalleled entrepreneurial drive, Céline (here sporting the Triple F.A.T. Goose Alistair II ) has established herself as a voice in spirits and travel in the luxury lifestyle realm through journalism, content creation, and digital media.
It would seem as though Céline is living the ultimate dream – constantly traveling to extravagant locations, living and breathing luxury hospitality, and while she agrees, her work is far from relaxing.
“I think it definitely looks more glamorous on Instagram than it is in real life,” Céline confesses. “I’m currently in Charleston on assignment, which has been amazing, but I woke up at 6:45 a.m. to answer emails, since I usually fall a bit behind on housekeeping when I travel (i.e. all the time). So it’s kind of challenging to stay on top of things in general (I travel about 80% of the time during any given month), but I count myself as being extremely fortunate, so I never complain.”
Meeting in person at The Crown Rooftop Bar & Lounge, our conversation quickly steers towards drinks – namely, a favorite go-to spirit: whiskey. When it comes to whiskey, Céline shares,
“I’m a bourbon girl first and foremost, then single malt. If I’m drinking bourbon then typically I’ll order a classic, like a whiskey sour (with an egg white, which is the way any sour should be served). In the wintertime though, I love to order a flip, which is a classic style that involves a whole egg and heavy cream and usually a spice, like nutmeg, among other things. I also love single malts and blended Scotch whiskies/Japanese whiskies either neat or in a highball with lemon zest.”
Hoping Céline’s discerning taste might reveal an objective ‘best’ whiskey to recommend to a whiskey-averse friend, we learn that while there are gradations in quality, Céline “couldn’t really begin to choose the ‘best,’ because it is about personal taste and occasion.”
Each person has a distinct flavor profile. Whiskey, in particular, has extensive taste factors to consider – there is spicy and fruity, rich and rounded, and full-bodied and smokey. Céline personally prefers a sweeter whiskey.
“Bourbon is inherently sweeter than rye,” Céline shares. “I find rye to be quite spicy.”
While she can appreciate a rye when well-executed, Céline finds herself gravitating towards Japanese whiskies and bourbons and Scotch whiskies (single malt/blended) – some favorites including Glenmorangie, Suntory (Toki in particular), Westward American single malt, Aberlour, and Woodford Reserve. She recollects a recent trip to Scotland, sharing,
“I was told that many of today’s top-tier Japanese whiskey distillers came up under the tutelage of Scottish Master Distillers. So I think there’s a lot of crossover there in technique at the very least; of course in Japan they’re working with Japanese grain, and there are totally different nuances in flavor profiles due to that alone. There are things that I really love about both.”
Many can relate to the pressure and stress that accompany addressing a busy barkeep while up next to order your drink in a sea of people, contemplating which to choose and trying your very best to feign confidence in that decision. So much of Céline’s knowledge grew from a desire to be truly learned in this sphere, followed by intentional research and exploration. She warns that there are basic do’s and don'ts in classic cocktails (i.e. she would never drink a whiskey sour with bottled sour mix), but shares how some important elements of ordering cocktails actually lie in the details.
For example, one question we had is whether it is acceptable to add ice when we order whiskey straight. To our surprise, Céline advises that she is not averse to adding a cube or two, as “water (both in droplet format and as ice) can open up a whiskey and transform the flavor profile in positive ways.” Furthermore, there is also the quality of the ice to consider.
“It’s important to have good ice in a drink if you’re going to make or sip a well-executed cocktail,” Céline says. “It would be a waste to put it on low-quality ice, as it can affect the taste and dilution.”
The larger ice cubes are not just for aesthetic: Céline reveals, “The larger the cube, the slower it’ll dilute your drink (larger surface area = slower melting).”
While flavor profiles are distinct, Céline notes that mood and more importantly, seasons, significantly impact personal preference.
Céline shares, “I might be super happy in the winter but I’ll likely gravitate toward something brown and spirit-forward. In the summertime, I’m all about shaken rum drinks. I LOVE a classic daiquiri, just rum, lime, and sugar shaken and strained into a coupe, garnished with a lime wheel. I prefer aged rums in my daiquiris, though (the usual go-to is clear rum). Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva is a perfect summer rum, in my opinion.”
Asking whether she has a go-to drink she would order regardless of season, we learn Céline’s favorite is the Bell Haleine at Sel Rrose in Lower Manhattan. The unique cocktail “is made with gin, Byrrh quinquina, sweet vermouth, homemade salted vanilla bean syrup, and Champagne. It’s got a really beautiful salinity over a deep, nutty sweetness that leads into the loveliest, lingering finish. It’s transcendent,” Céline encourages.
When asked her thoughts about mixing different types of alcohol – per the myth, “Beer before liquor, never been sicker; Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear” – Céline shrugs off the notion as mundane, encouraging people to simply know their limits and always drink in moderation to avoid any mishaps.
Whether you are a party animal or comfort-seeking homebody, a Friday evening drink can be a rewarding way to finish up the week. Whatever your desires dictate this week, we are excited to raise our glasses – now with a bit of added knowledge – to our interviewee. Thank you for sharing your insights and experience with us. From us to you, cheers, Céline!
If you’re looking for something additional to add to your weekend festivities, the taproom in Other Half Brewing Company , Brooklyn, has original craft IPA’s and other savory brews. Take a look and see what the owners said to us !