Going 10 Rounds with Top Bartender Natasha David

What do you like to drink after a shift? My go to at the end of a long night is wine. Depending on how my night went, Ill either drink a light, crisp refreshing white, or a full-bodied red if I need a hug.

What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? Okay, so this is a bit of an outrageous answer, but songs by the Spice Girls unite a bar! Even the guy sitting alone at the bar who has been complaining about his life for hours to the poor bartender cant help but at least grin.

What drink should be banished and why? The Long Island Ice Tea! To me, drinking is something social, something to be enjoyed with friends with good conversation. A Long Island just guarantees youll have your head in the toilet at some point in the night.

Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. My first experience working in a cocktail bar, I was being trained by Lynnette Marrero and Jim Kearns. As part of training they made me a Manhattan. I never knew a cocktail could taste so good.

What book on cocktails, spirits or food is your go-to resource? I definitely use classic templates as inspiration for all of my cocktails.

Whats your favorite bottle of booze that costs less than $25? Im going to cheat a little here: A 375 mL bottle of Clear Creek Pear Brandy. If you like joy, then youll enjoy this stuff. Its absolutely insanely delicious if you put it in the freezer. Its also delicious in a white wine spritz and [I also like] a teaspoon of it in a Martini or in a Gimlet. Its my go-to make everything better booze.

Whats your favorite cocktail and food pairing? I love Champagne and greasy, greasy Chinese food. Ill also never turn down a Plymouth 50/50 Martini with a twist to accompany a cheese plate.

What drink are you most proud of creating? I would have to say my Tartan Swizzle, which is a playful Scotch tiki cocktail. Yes, its yummy, but Im really proud of it because it marked a point in my creative process where I stopped taking myself so seriously.

Whats your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? I love a glass of dry cider (yeah, yeah, I know its not really a beer) accompanied by a chilled shot of aquavit.

What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when youre traveling for business? My notebook. Its my most loyal tool. Its where I record all of my ideas, and travelling often inspires something new, even if its for business.

Natasha David is of owner of bar Nitecap in New York.

Interview has been condensed and edited.

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