We had the opportunity to sit down with Mike Vacheresse, one of the partners of a well known local spot Travel Bar in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, NY.
Travel Bar is the brainchild of owners Mike Vacheresse and Joe Sweigart, who wanted to bring their love of travel to their new bar in Carroll Gardens, Mike Vacheresse is Travel Bar’s head bartender/owner, and he brings with him decades of creating cocktail lists for fine dining restaurants, including Bar Masa and Avoce to name a few. Travel Bar features some of his best cocktails plus a few exciting new additions.
So Mike, tell us why did you pick Carroll Gardens as the location for your venue?
M: After looking for a spot in Manhattan and Brooklyn for a year, we were attracted to the basic structure and amenities of our current location- from the tin roof to the soft wood interior
What makes you unique?
M: Unlike many bartenders, I started in Michelin-star rated restaurants. I was inspired by master chefs who treated their work with significance and respect. They aren’t shift workers. They were constantly thinking of their work. They are people trying to express themselves through their creations. The commitment to service and their work are what I wanted to bring to Travel Bar.
That is very admirable, you don’t see that kind of commitment now a days. In your professional opinion what makes a good drink?
M: Balance and simplicity. My cocktails rarely have more than three ingredients, and those ingredients blend together and converge as one textured flavor.
You have a pretty big selection of drinks, what would you personally recommend on the drink menu?
M: Our top selling drink, and the one I recommend the most, is the Ringo Shoga, which is bourbon, apple cider cooked with fresh ginger and a dash of Lazzaroni Amaretto.
That sounds so delicious. It’s getting to that time of the year again, what are some of your cold weather favorites?
M: I am a big fan of classics with a twist. For instance, the Travel Toddy is a Swedish Punsch with house infused cinnamon rum, hot water and flamed orange.
Are there certain spirits you find yourself turning to time again?
M: So many classic cocktails are made of rye, so I have made sure that I am stocked with 20+ ryes. I am also a huge fan of blended scotches.
What is your go to favorite Bourbon or Scotch, and which one?
M: Scotch, but the popularity of bourbon can’t be denied.
So in your professional opinion, do you believe whisky is the new wine?
M: No, just the people who drink whiskey have changed. It has moved from casual drinkers to aficionados and connoisseurs who truly appreciate the product. Collectors have helped to create a new secondary market of buying and reselling whiskey.
What kind of crowd do you attract?
M: Looking at my regulars, I would say the beautiful people. But seriously, the products we offer are geared towards a cocktail, whisky crowd, as opposed to a quick shot crowd.
What has been your proudest moment as owner of the Travel Bar so far?
M: Two moments come to mind. It was very humbling how many people showed up to our second year anniversary. Secondly, regulars told me that when their lease is up, they have to find an apartment close to the bar.
Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you think is important and you may want to share with the Tastethedram readers?
M: Curation is what I love to do most. I love to build flights for people based on their preferences. Many people are intimidated by whisky and won’t consider the product, let alone have a flight. I love working with people who are new to whisky as well as impressing people with a veteran palate.
Thank you Mike, for sitting down with us in this interview. It was our utmost pleasure and we hope you continue to grow and prosper.