Behind The Bar ~ Social Drink and Food

It was a pair of nice shoes that first motivated bartender Adrian Grossman to enter the hospitality industry. “I was around 12 years old when I started working at the pizza shop that my parents were running,” he remembers. When he was 16 his parents bought a small bar and grill, where he spent his time waiting tables and bartending. “I was slinging simple cheap drinks to college students and I loved it,” he says. In 2012 he made his way to NYC, where he’s now head bartender of Social Drink & Food, the rooftop terrace bar and restaurant that opened last week in Manhattan’s Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood. Here, he shares more on the upside to accidents, the tool he can’t live without, and where he’s heading post-work.

BoozeMenus: What does hospitality mean to you?

Adrian Grossman: Hospitality means being friendly and welcoming to guests. It's like having a party at your house and making sure everyone is happy and having a good time.

BM:What do you consider when creating the drinks at Social Drink & Food?

AG: I definitely consider the weather. When you are sitting on a rooftop in NYC with the sun shining, you want to drink something crisp and refreshing.

BM: What ingredients are you excited about right now, and how are you using them at the bar?

AG: I'm really into honey right now. I like to infuse honey with a bit of spice to recreate some classics. Sticking with the summer theme, you can really create some refreshing cocktails that are easy and everyone will enjoy.

BM: Which cocktail on the menu now do you enjoy preparing the most?

AG: I think the Shore Thing is really refreshing. I actually infuse sage into pineapple juice, honey and fresh lemon juice. If you were throwing a party this would be the drink that everyone would be like, "what's in this? I love it!"

BM: Any great stories behind any of the drinks right now?

AG: I’m planning to add a new gin cocktail to the menu and was playing around with cucumber and gin when I happened to accidentally spill some St. Germain in my mixer glass, so I decided to shake it. After that I knew it was going to be a super sweet cocktail, so I said why not make it sweeter and pour some Prosecco on top. Turns out it was really refreshing and people responded to it really well. Moral of the story: don't be afraid of fixing your mistakes.

BM: What's something you've learned recently from one of your patrons?

AG: It's different being at a hotel because you are constantly surrounded by new customers. Sure, I have my regulars that come in that live in the neighborhood, but for the most part I'm meeting new people every day. I've learned that being very welcoming to travelers is the best way to make new friends and learn about new places to travel myself. I have new friends that I can go visit all over the world.

BM: What tool could you never go without, and why?

AG: I need my wine key more than anything. I can open wine bottles, beer bottles and it has a little knife on it if I need to open something. It's a simple tool that can do it all.

BM: If you could grab drinks with anyone in the world right now, who would it be, where would it be, and what are you drinking?

AG: Honestly, I know some people will hate this, but I would like to grab drinks with Kanye West. We would be in Rio de Janeiro sipping on caipirinhas, of course.

BM: What’s your favorite time of day?

AG: I love the part of the day in the city when it is most calm at 3pm. It's usually the best weather and walking down the street on a nice day can leave you really appreciating the city.

BM: Where can you be found post-shift, and what are you eating or drinking?

AG: If I stay around Hell's Kitchen I like to go to Lillie’s. The bar has a good vibe and the bartenders know how to make classic cocktails, which can be hard to find sometimes.


By Nicole Schnitzler

(Photos from left: Tropical Triple by Michael Tulipan; Adrian Grossman; Exterior by Michael Tulipan)