March Bartender of the Month: Mathias Simonis
Name: Mathias Simonis
Establishment Name: Distil Milwaukee
Recent Gigs: Now holding court as Mixologist at Distil Milwaukee after stints at Intercontinental Hotel, Soho 7, Decibel Nightclub, Roots and BJONDA.
What’s in the Shaker: “As an establishment known for bourbon and rye, I am always working with those spirits and am always trying to learn more about the classics and putting a modern twist on them. Currently, I’m working on some bitters and tinctures, as well as experimenting with some molecular techniques.”
What You’re Sipping & Why: As a Milwaukee boy, his drink of choice is an ice-cold Miller High Life. But, “as far as cocktails go...I've been on a Bijou kick for a while now! A friend turned me on to trying one; the fantastic blend of gin, sweet vermouth and green chartreuse -- a liquor so good they named a crayon after it -- can be a dangerous cocktail! Otherwise, I always love to try new things from other bartenders. I love to sit down at someone’s bar and just say, ‘Make me something!’”
What You are Dancing to while Mixing: “If it was up too me, I’d probably only shake and stir to a mix of Danko Jones and also Social Distortion, which is by far my favorite band, and I can not get enough of the new album! A small crew of us in Milwaukee, via Twitter, do #dankojonesthursdays where we all listen to only Danko Jones music and tweet lyrics all day. It’s nice and silly, but Danko himself has personally thanked us on the tweets!”
Quirks & Quotable: Bartenders across the nation should unite together and start taxing guests who make the "shake weight" reference while their cocktails are being mixed. “It wasn’t funny the first 100 times I heard it, and I’m sure I'll get some support on that one! Other than that, I think a lot of people [in the business] lose the sense of being humble. I just went to a book signing with Grant Achatz of Alinea Chicago, and he made a great comment about [how] all the awards and recognition are trivial, there is never gonna be a Best Restaurant or Best Chef in the world! Everyone is different and does different amazing things. The same with the bar business and cocktail culture; there are so many people out there doing great things, but it’s always learning and being humble and respecting each other that makes you truly great! Remember, we are not inventing the wheel, just modifying it! Most of the greatest cocktails were around before any of us!”
Thoughts on Winning the 2011 Shake it Up! Competition: Sharing the stage with the top 30 of the greatest talent in the country is the best honor! Seeing friends and catching up and exchanging ideas is the best part of the experience for me, although two straight years in the top 3, and winning it all has been pretty rad!
Click here for Simonis' winning recipe, the Last Second Sour.