Classic kind of bartender serves up classic cocktails
By Kiko Miyasato
Remember the Tom Cruise of long ago? Before he became Mission: Impossible’s main man? Remember that awesome movie he did in 1988, Cocktail? Matt Harmon, bartender at American Fish inside Aria, certainly does.
“Ever since I saw the movie Cocktail, that’s what did it for me. (Being a bartender) looked crazy fun, plus they got all the girls!” Harmon said. “Bartending has always been a passion of mine and to be working in a bar like (American Fish) that does some off-the-wall drinks, goes back to the old-school, real way to make them, it interests me. I’ve always believed that if you really, truly love your job, it’s not work.”
The Southern California native has been with the Michael Mina restaurant and lounge since it opened its doors in 2009. The establishment offers a menu boasting more than 30 classic, handcrafted cocktails. Harmon suggests trying a late 1920s classic, the gimlet. “I love our gimlets. We make our own cordial. We don’t use the normal Rose’s lime juice, so it completely puts our gimlets over the top.”
Harmon, whose goal is to open his own bar one day in the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, said,
besides chatting with his guests, “There’s nothing better than the feeling of making someone a drink that they’ve never had before and them saying, ‘Oh God, this is my favorite drink now.’”
The name of the drink is taken from the title of a Prohibition-era movie starring Rudolph Valentino. The classic cocktail is mixed with Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch, Heering cherry brandy liqueur, Carpano Antica Formula sweet vermouth and fresh-squeezed orange juice, then it’s shaken and double-strained. It’s topped with a burnt orange wheel so you get a pleasant smoky aroma. “It’s not very fruity, you get the scotch flavor … the flavors blend so well together; it’s an in-depth drink,” Harmon said.