Cocktail Friday: Moses Laboy explains “farm to glass” cocktails

Moses Laboy has perfected his “farm to glass” philosophy at Red Rooster in New York City. (Photo/Courtesy Moses Laboy)

Boy grows up in a tight-knit Puerto Rican family in New York City’s Spanish Harlem. Boy grows up and bartends his way through the University of Michigan and earns a degree in political science. After a two –year stint traveling through Europe, boy heads back home and works his way up through New York’s celebrity-studded restaurant world where finds himself mixing cocktails as the head bartender at chef Marcus Samuelsson’s flagship restaurant, Red Rooster.

It’s a place where the urban city boy polishes his approach to bringing the freshest herbs, eggs and produce to the cocktail glass – something he calls, a “farm to glass” approach to mixology.

The story is nothing short of a culinary fairy tale, but it captures Moses Laboy’s ascent into an award-winning career as a premiere mixologist. “I’ve always loved food, growing up in a Puerto Rican household where we’d make bowls and bowls of arroz con gandules or make 200 pasteles at a time during the holidays,” says Laboy. ‘Translating my love of flavor to drinks became something that felt natural.”

Laboy refined his college bartending skills under esteemed mixologist Dale Degroff (otherwise known as ”King Cocktail” and one of America’s foremost mixologists) and after working at hotspots like Cesca, Chef Annie Wayte’s202, Prana, B Bar and Donatella,  award-winning celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson gave Laboy a call in 2010 and asked him to join a special new project as head mixologist. The project was a restaurant that would revitalize historic Harlem with an exciting new approach to produce and  global flavors and it’s there that Laboy has refined a style he calls “farm to glass.”

“It’s about freshness and using that as a model to deliver an experience that people in this community may have never had,” says Laboy. “I go to the farmer’s market right here in Harlem to support area farmers and that keeps me creative. Chefs move along a line of what’s the freshest to inspire a dish and I do the same thing behind the bar.” It’s an approach that a Puerto Rican kid from the barrio is bringing to a world-class restaurant with more than a dozen cocktails at the restaurant – a privilege Laboy says, he appreciates for its opportunities and exposure.

Here’s one of Laboy’s original cocktails, named  “The Apollo”  as an homage to the neighborhood where he works and created it.The recipe for this fragrant sage-infused drink was included in the 75th anniversary edition of “Mr. Boston,” the official bartender’s guide of recipes old and new that was first published in 1935.

Cocktail Friday: Moses Laboy explains farm to glass cocktails tumblr m1pabiDHpa1r1767o food NBC Latino News

The Apollo

1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, sliced

7 fresh sage leaves

1 ½ oz. gin (something heavy like Tanqueray or Beefeater)

1 egg white

¾ oz.  simple syrup

½ oz. fresh lemon juice

Garnish: 1 dash Angostura bitters, fresh sage leaf

Muddle ginger and 7 sage leaves in mixing glass. Add remaining ingredients and shake without ice. Add ice and shake again. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Top with bitters and single sage leaf.  Makes one cocktail.

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