The Curators: Wallflower’s Xavier Herit on Working for Daniel Boulud & NYC’s Best Cocktail Bars | meltingbutter.com

The Curators: Wallflower’s Xavier Herit on Working for Daniel Boulud & NYC’s Best Cocktail Bars

It’s hard to progress much further when your 15-year career has already been spent working for the very best. But this isn’t so for Xavier Herit, the owner/cocktail guy responsible for Wallflower, the West Village’s latest restaurant darling.

Herit undoubtedly boasts an esteemed career having worked as head cocktail consultant at the world’s finest establishments like NYC’s Daniel, Paris’ Hôtel Plaza Athénée and with the likes of Alain Ducasse as well as the trailblazing crew who brought us the NYC chapter of Experimental Cocktail Club. At Wallflower, Herit simply took everything he learned developing cocktail programs with the best of the best and put it into his own casual neighborhood restaurant where elements of silver service still come as a welcome addition to your meal.

I caught up with Xavier over an Adam & Eve, one of his creative concoctions that looks like an innocent bottle of soda but is actually a carbonated cocktail that has been bottled with dry sherry, apple cider and other sweet acidic ingredients. “Because the drink is stored in a bottle”, Herit says, “We had to find ingredients that would last. We couldn’t use any fresh lime or lemon juice but still had to find something acidic to balance out the sweet so we thought to use verjus and apple shrub instead.” Pretty impressive I thought. And it’s this imaginative use of ingredients that make the cocktails at Wallflower so distinctly Herit’s own style.

One cocktail later, we got talking about what it’s really like working for Daniel Boulud, how those experiences have influenced the cocktails and service at Wallflower, and for this edition of The Curators, we asked him to select 6 of NYC’s very best cocktail bars that you need put on your visit list now.

The Curators: Wallflower’s Xavier Herit on Working for Daniel Boulud & NYC’s Best Cocktail Bars | meltingbutter.com

The Adam & Eve cocktail from Wallflower – Photo: By Thomas Schauer, courtesy of Wallflower

MB – What’s your inspiration for Wallflower’s cocktails? And how are they different from what you did at Daniel?

XH – I would say that the inspiration behind Wallflower’s cocktails would of course come from my experiences at Daniel but also from working with Nicolas De Soto to open up the Experimental Cocktail Club in NYC. Nicolas is one of the most talented mixologists I’ve ever worked with and from him I learned techniques for making syrups and building up cocktails for a high volume of customers.

The difference at Wallflower is that I’ve been playing a lot with dry sherry, which tend to bring a lot of complexity to a drink and I’ve also been incorporating more dessert and fortified wines from France. I’ve really been trying to bring some new, lesser-known ingredients to the New York market.

I think it’s important to be inspired by your past and by the classics but I try to keep thinking, “What else can we create now”.

MB – What did you learn at Daniel that you’ve brought over to Wallflower?

XH – One thing I learned from Daniel himself is the importance of hospitality and the way to take care of people – things like anticipating demands, making sure customers feel comfortable, welcome and generally providing a great product and service. At Wallflower, we all have high-end restaurant DNA and while we’re not trying to be too fancy, the base is definitely there.

The other thing I learned from Daniel is the visual aspect of food and drink presentation. The drinks at Wallflower are simpler than at Daniel, because we’re obviously smaller with only 1 bartender working at a time, but we are still playing a lot with new interesting ways to present our product.

MB – Do you miss working at Daniel?

XH – Daniel is an excellent institution that I think of like a school where you can learn a lot of things – especially about the service and how to push yourself to perfection because the customers dine there for an experience and they have high expectations. I miss that learning aspect of Daniel but I’m really happy to be working on my own thing now and learning a whole new aspect of operating a restaurant.

MB – I’ve noticed that amateur-mixology seems to be trending lately. What are some tricks of the trade you would give to a home cocktail enthusiast?

XH- Think of a cocktail like a cake recipe – always respect the measurements. It’s very simple. Just buy your own tools, start with the uncomplicated classics and you will enjoy yourself.

Let’s say you make a Gold Rush – that’s just 2 ounces of bourbon, 3-quarter ounces of lemon and of honey syrup and it’s done!

MB – Any tips for cocktail bar lovers on gauging if a mixologist is worth a second order?

XH – If you go to a cocktail bar just ask for an old fashioned and if they mess it up, don’t try any other cocktails. Why? Because the Old Fashioned is one of the simplest cocktails to make – you really can’t mess that up. If you end up with an Old Fashioned that has 10 garnishes and a fruit salad inside, ask for a beer instead.

MB – What’s next for you?

XH -Well I’ve been living in the Upper East Side for many years and the area really needs something. There are a lot of people like me who live there – the ones who aren’t the super rich regulars at Daniel. They’re looking for a neighborhood place that isn’t a pub or an average wine bar. It may take a while for this to happen because we’re not there yet – we still have a lot to prove with Wallflower so once we have this place rolling we can start thinking about the next step!

 

XAVIER HERIT’S GUIDE TO NYC’S BEST COCKTAIL BARS

THE DEAD RABBIT, FINANCIAL DISTRICT

The Dead Rabbit is a great new concept and an impressive addition to New York in the past year. They have a great marketing concept for the brand and the way their extensive cocktail list is made shows that they really take their work seriously. They’re already winning a lot of awards, which they really deserve.

http://www.deadrabbitnyc.com/

30 Water St, New York, NY 10004
(646) 422-7906

The Dead Rabbit on The Curators: Wallflower’s Xavier Herit on Working for Daniel Boulud & NYC’s Best Cocktail Bars | meltingbutter.com

Inside The Dead Rabbit – Photo: Courtesy of The Dead Rabbit

 

POURING RIBBONS, ALPHABET CITY

They serve some serious drinks and Joaquín Simó deserves a compliment for his skills – he’s definitely one of the best mixologists in New York.

http://www.pouringribbons.com/

225 Avenue B, New York, NY 10009
(917) 656-6788

Poring Ribbons on The Curators: Wallflower’s Xavier Herit on Working for Daniel Boulud & NYC’s Best Cocktail Bars | meltingbutter.com

Joaquín Simó at Pouring Ribbons – Photo: Design Within Reach

 

NITECAP, LOWER EAST SIDE

I like Nitecap a lot for good cocktails – they’re a new opening from Death & Co.

http://www.nitecapnyc.com/

Downstairs, 120 Rivington St, New York, NY 10002
(212) 466-3361

Nitecap on The Curators: Wallflower’s Xavier Herit on Working for Daniel Boulud & NYC’s Best Cocktail Bars | meltingbutter.com

The downstairs entrance to Nitecap – Photo: Courtesy of Nitecap

 

LOUIS 649, ALPHABET CITY

This Alphabet City bar has been there for 10 years. It’s small, not too loud and open late so you can go, have a cocktail and chill. It’s a good place for classic cocktails.

http://www.louis649.com/

649 E 9th St, New York, NY 10009

Louis 649 on The Curators: Wallflower’s Xavier Herit on Working for Daniel Boulud & NYC’s Best Cocktail Bars | meltingbutter.com

Looking through the window of Louis 649 – Photo: by Courtody: https://www.flickr.com/photos/courtody/

 

MAYAHUEL, EAST VILLAGE

They have outstanding tequila drinks and they are big fans of dry sherry. You can never go wrong there – the drinks are really outstanding

http://www.mayahuelny.com/

304 E 6th St, New York, NY 10003
(212) 253-5888

Mayahuel on The Curators: Wallflower’s Xavier Herit on Working for Daniel Boulud & NYC’s Best Cocktail Bars | meltingbutter.com

Inside Mayahuel – Photo: Courtesy of Mayahuel

 

DEATH & CO, EAST VILLAGE

If you can get a seat, go.

http://deathandcompany.com/

433 E 6th St, Manhattan, NY 10009
(212) 388-0882

Death & Co on The Curators: Wallflower’s Xavier Herit on Working for Daniel Boulud & NYC’s Best Cocktail Bars | meltingbutter.com

Inside Death & Co – Photo: solifestyle (http://www.solifestyle.com/)

(Feature image by Thomas Schauer, courtesy of Wallflower)  

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