March 2017 Bartender of the Month: Rael Petit

Name: Rael Petit

Current Bartending Gig: Delilah

Previous Bartending Gigs: mulberry project, sub mercer, standard hotel

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Acclaimed mixologist Rael Petit came to New York City in 2003 from Switzerland for what was supposed to be his summer vacation. On his first day in the city he visited The Coffee Shop on Union Square where after reminiscing with owner Caroline Benitez, he was offered a job at the hipster café where he learned every aspect of the restaurant business. It was his first job in the hospitality industry, and he immediately fell in love with it. Over the course of the next two years, the Swiss immigrant worked his way up from a bar back to bartender, waiter to maître d'.

In 2005, Petit was brought on board as a bar manager at both L'Orange Bleue and Brasserie Les Halles with Anthony Bourdain. At 22, he decided to take a leap of faith and opened his first business, The Potato Cafe in Williamsburg. A couple of years later, Petit was then offered a bartending position at The Standard Hotel, where he met Jeremy Strawn who would become his business partner.

Rael Petit created a cocktail and bar consulting company in 2010 called Rebel Disco, creating drink menus for multiple bars in Manhattan and Brooklyn, including Trump Soho, MPD, STASH, Blackhound and Sub Mercer, lot 45, the Gansevoort hotel...

Three years ago, Petit and Strawn joined forces with Nick Boccio and opened Mulberry Project together, which he now co-owns and manages. In 2013, Petit added to his enterprises when he opened the art gallery ROX on the Lower East Side.

When Petit is not serving up some of the nation’s finest cocktails, or running day-to-day operations at his multiple venues, he can be found running marathons and triathlons with no signs of slowing down!

 

Why did you become a bartender? 

It was an accident: I came to NYC to visit my sister for the summer, got an offer to work at the coffee shop and started bartending there.

What made you want to work at the bars at which you’re currently bartending?

Over the years I've been developing my own cocktail program, and every time I work in a different bar or restaurant I find some new flavors or spices to play around with.

Do you train bartenders and/or bar backs and servers at your venue? If so, how do you approach training and what are some key points you can share with our readers?

One of thing that I try to teach bartenders is that you need to build your cocktail the same way you would cook for your partner. You need to show some love!

What are some fun flavors you’re working with?

One of my favorite cocktail is a Piña Colada so I did a variation using a homemade coconut milk infused with saffron.

What are some of the unique spirits and ingredients you’re playing with?

Singani 63 would be a spirit that I like mixing with. One ingredient that I played with lately was using gold flakes in a martini variation using elit Vodka, liquid smoke and Dolin Blanc. [I] pour all the ingredients inside an ice sphere covered with edible gold flakes.

Rael Petit Billions ice sphere - Nightclub & Bar Digital Bartender of the Month

What are you doing different from the norm in your beverages? 

One thing that I do that's out of the norm is adding a flare of art into my cocktails. I like to add some street art into it.

How did you approach creating the cocktail program for Delilah?

Since Delilah is a nightlife oriented place I tried to create cocktails that are approachable and fun like adding some candy logos on top of a drink or a paper plane as a garnish.

What do you feel is the next hot trend in mixology?

I've been seeing mocktails more and more often in cocktail menus nowadays. It’s a good thing for designated drivers and they still have interactions at the bar.

What’s in the mixing glass or shaker for your customers?

I tend to see what kind of flavors and spirits my guest want before I make them a drink. I keep it simple to sweet, sour, dry, fruity or spicy.

What are you sipping on and why? 

It all depends where I go. If I end up at a cocktail bar I end up trying some amaros, if it’s a dive bar it would be bourbon, and at a nightclub I would drink an elit Vodka and soda.

What are you dancing to while tending bar?  

I go crazy when I hear “Poison” by Bel Bev DeVoe. I start bringing some new jack swing dance moves while bartending.

What are some quirks/quotes you are known for?  

I have way too much energy so I joke around a lot with my team

 

Connect with Rael:

Instagram: @raelpetit

Facebook: @raelpetit

Twitter: @raelpetit