Haute Drinking: 10 Questions for Willy Shine of The Cocktail Collective

Willy Shine of The Cocktail Collective

What do you get when you gather the best team of bartenders? The alluring Cocktail Collective. This group of bartenders concocts cocktails for various bars. Their latest project is Forty Four at The Royalton Hotel. For Forty Four’s cocktail menu The Collective focused on pre and post Prohibition drinks served over crushed, cubed and freshly chipped rocks of ice: You may want to try the gin-based “English 75” or the “Hocus Pocus”, or the soothing Rye based “The Reconciliation.”

The Cocktail Collective consists of:
Richard Boccato from Dutch Kills and Pain Killer in New York City
John Lermayer from The Florida Room in South Beach and Woodward in Boston
Simon Ford a global cocktail ambassador based in New York City
Willy Shine from Contemporary Cocktails, Inc. in New York City
Misty Kalkofen from Drink in Boston
Eric Alperin from The Varnish in Historic Downtown L.A.

Here, Willy Shine shares his thoughts with us:

Haute Living: How did The Cocktail Collective come to be?
Willy Shine: The Cocktail Collective was the brainchild of Howard Wein Senior VP of F&B at Morgan’s Hotel Group. Howard and I at Tales of the Cocktail in NOLA this past summer defined what the Cocktail Collective was going to be which is a group of like-minded individuals dedicated to the craft and history of cocktail Making. We decided to go nationwide with the Collective and the prerequisites were incredible work ethic, dedicated to the craft and moving the industry forward and basically who we wanted to work with. Once we decided what the Collective was going to be and who was going to be a part of it I made the calls and everyone was on board right away. We had 2 months to put together this one of a kind never before done collaborated effort of a extremely forward thinking beverage program deeply rooted in the classics and our predecessors.

HL: What’s your most recent project(s)?
WS: Forty Four and the Cocktail Collective as a whole has been my most recent project yet under that umbrella we are developing an event called Punches From Around The World scheduled to launch in December some time. We will be taking over the penthouses of the Royalton Hotel offering punches from many different spirit brands, passed food from Forty Four and a signed copy of James Beard award winning author of Imbibe, David Wondrich’s new book fittingly titled Punch. This event will launch our new Punch list which will be featured at Forty Four.

HL: What are some of your favorite cocktails you’ve developed?
WS: I am very proud of a few:
Two One Two
2oz Partida Reposado Tequila
1oz Aperol
2oz Fresh squeezed pink grapefruit juice
Glass: 11oz highball
Garnish: Long grapefruit zest
Build all ingredients into your shaker add ice and shake vigorously. Strain over fresh ice, garnish and serve.

Blue Mountain Daiquiri
1.5oz Appleton Estate Reserve
.5oz Demerara syrup (1:1)
1oz Fresh squeezed lime juice
Flammed orange oil
Glass: 5.5oz Coupe
Garnish: Dust of nutmeg and Blue Mountain coffee grounds
Build all ingredients into your shaker except orange oil add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled coupe and flame orange oil over the top and discard. Dust with fresh nutmeg and coffee grounds and serve

HL: Where do you like to enjoy a cocktail when you’re not working?
WS: My favorite depends on my mood for sure yet recently I have been spending time at a new bar called 1534 on prince street and always a favorite is PJ Clarke’s up town for a Guinness and burger with Doug who resides behind the bar there.

HL: Your favorite special occasion spot?
WS: My favorite special occasion spot is called Cafecito down on avenue C. The best Cuban food hands down!!!!!

HL: What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood, and why?
WS: My favorite NYC neighborhood has to be NOLITA. Great bars restaurants and culture

HL: What do you like to do on your days off?
WS: I enjoy spending time with my wife and son as well as we love to entertain at home. If there is a swell I also enjoy surfing year round. It is the one thing that takes my mind off of my hectic life and rejuvenates me.

HL: Your favorite vacation destination?
WS: I used to live on Nantucket Island for many summers bartending so it is always great to visit as it is a very magical place. I also very much enjoy Montauk which really reminds me of Nantucket with great restaurants, surfing, fishing and just like minded ppl.

HL: What’s your most memorable meal?
WS: My most memorable meal happened in Nantucket Island at the Pearl on the Chef’s table. It was a group of 10 or so of us and we liked to go big once a week or so and we ordered paired wines, Champagne, chef’s tasting, cocktails. We were having a glorious time. The most memorable part was when the check came and we partook in credit card roulette where everyone puts their credit cards in a hat and the server chooses one to pay the bill. Guess who? That’s right I was the lucky winner of a $4000,00 check! Good Times!

HL: What are your five favorite ingredients?
WS: All Agave based spirits Blue Agave Tequila and Mezcal
Large format block ice
Whiskey barrel aged bitters from Fee Brothers
Carpano Atica Formula

Forty Four at The Royalton is located at 44 West 44th St; 212-869-4400

Need help finding the perfect New York City restaurant? Or want tips on cooking elegant meals at home? Contact Haute Living dining columnist Tracey Ceurvels via her blog, The Busy Hedonist, or email her with any questions.