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A Q&A with the Sage of Spirits, Dale Degroff

The legendary barman reveals the newest cocktail trends.

dan degroff portrait Photo: Courtesy

Bartending legend Dale DeGroff is a James Beard Foundation Award winner, best-selling author, and founder of the Museum of the American Cocktail in New Orleans. This week, he returns to the Big Easy to serve as an honorary ambassador at Tales of the Cocktail, America’s most esteemed distilled spirits festival. We stopped him for a short Q&A, where he gave us some insight into his favorite cocktail of the moment and the spirits poised to go big.

What spirit is on your radar right now?

Kweichow Moutai Baijiu, a Chinese white liquor made from sorghum, is the best of a category that represents one-third of the total spirits volume globally. It’s time to pay it a little attention.

Any favorite bars?

Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company in Miami. The first time I walked in, it was like finding a long-lost friend. Some bars are great from the moment they open the doors. Part of that’s the people who walk through those doors, and another big part is the proprietor. John Lermayer knows what he’s doing—the food and cocktails are innovative and world class. And the place is almost always open. As my mentor Joe Baum once said, “You can’t make money when the doors are locked.”

Which libation is poised for grandeur?

Pisco. La Caravedo Pisco Puro Torontel secured one of the five top awards at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Finally, one of the first spirits to be distilled in the New World (documented production dates to 1613 in the Viceroyalty of Peru) has received its long overdue recognition.

We’d love a drink recommendation from a bartending legend… what’ll it be, Dale?


Try an Almost Perfect “Perfect” Manhattan. It’s made with good rye whiskey and a bitters that’s near and dear to my heart.

2 oz. Rye Whiskey

0.75 oz. Dolin Sweet Vermouth

0.25 oz. Dolin Dry Vermouth

2 Dashes Dale DeGroff’s Pimento Bitters

Orange Zest Garnish    

Stirred with ice and served up or over depending on personal preference


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