August 2012 Bartender of the Month: Brian Miller
Name: Brian Miller
Establishment Name: Lani Kai and 4th on 5th in New York City
Recent Gigs: A veteran of the New York bar scene since the early 90’s, Brian Miller has built a reputation as a highly skilled, deeply passionate and internationally recognized bartender.
His big break came in 2005 when he was chosen by Audrey Saunders to join the opening staff of New York City’s legendary cocktail haven, Pegu Club. It was under the tutelage of Saunders and while working alongside fellow up and comers of the cocktail world; Phil Ward, Jim Meehan, Sammy Ross, Chad Soloman and Toby Maloney that Miller’s career began to take shape.
In 2007, he was asked by Phil Ward to join the team at Death & Company. There, he helped build the fledgling cocktail den into one of the most recognized and highly decorated bars in the world, eventually taking the reigns as head bartender in 2009. During his year as Head Bartender, Death & Company won two awards at the 2010 Spirited Awards at Tales of the Cocktail - Best American Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Cocktail Menu. That same year, he was nominated for International Bartender of the Year.
Miller teamed up with Lynette Marrero to create an all Tiki cocktail program at Elettaria restaurant in 2008. The program marked a resurgence of Tiki in the New York cocktail scene and spurred a renaissance that is reflected in many places today. In 2010 he was the national winner of the First Annual Appleton Remixology Contest. Today, Miller continues his love affair with rum and tiki by hosting the notorious “Tiki Mondays with Miller” at Julie Reiner’s Lani Kai.
Through his consulting company, Double Windsor, Miller’s clients have included St Germain, Flor de Cana, Ateneo Restaurant in Mexico City, entrepreneur Sean Parker and Diageo. In 2011, Miller was tapped as Tanqueray’s first NYC Brand Ambassador and today Miller continues his relationship with Diageo as head bartender of “4th on 5th”, the in-house bar at their NYC headquarters.
Brian currently resides in Brooklyn with his girlfriend and his rather large rum and tiki mug collection.
What’s In the Shaker…or mixing glass: It’s usually something with rum - because it’s my favorite child after all (but please don’t tell my other liquor babies). Perhaps a daiquiri of some sort? 1934 Zombie Punch? Montego Bay? Old Fashioned? Either way, it’s got more than one rum in it and I’m usually wishing I was somewhere in the Caribbean drinking it.
What You’re Sipping and Why: My latest love affair is with the 12 year-old St Nicholas Abbey Barbados Rum. I found it while I was on vacation in Barbados. It comes from the oldest sugar plant on the island. One sip of this and my heart sighs with relief and all my worries run down my body and out my toes.
What are You are Dancing to While Mixing: There are two songs that are on my playlist for Tiki Mondays that not only get myself but the entire bar jumping. 20th Centruy Boy by T Rex and Happy by the Rolling Stones. I’m a terrible dancer but my barback Ryan Liloia is great, so I just follow his lead.
Quirks & Quotes: Sarongs, guyliner and pirate scarves at work? You say quirky, I say, welcome to Tiki Mondays.
“Is this a dream?” - Capt. Jack Sparrow
“No.” - Bootstrap Bill
“I thought not. If it were, there’d be rum.” - Capt. Jack Sparrow