Our insider: Patrick Fulgencio, head bartender at Dear Friend cocktail bar in Dartmouth
On his table: No-fuss snacks, a casual tablecloth and, of course, a killer signature cocktail.
Summer entertaining style: “It’s usually a potluck situation with my friends, but I contribute a special drink and a charcuterie board made from local cheese, meat and fruit.”
Can’t host without: Sugar, citrus and bitters. “Play around with a combo of those things, plus your favourite booze and mix, and you’re on your way.”
Best party trick: “Express the fruit oils from your citrus peels and spank your herbs to activate the flavours.”
Don’t call Patrick Fulgencio a mixologist. The journalism grad was contemplating a career switch in January, 2020, when he saw a job posting for a new bar in his Dartmouth neighbourhood. He applied on a whim, and just two years later, found himself thriving, not to mention competing in – and winning – national and North American competitions. Recently, he was named head bartender at Dear Friend, a title he relishes: “‘Mixologist’ refers to ingredients and the business of, ‘Hey, look at me making cool drinks,’” he says. “But what I enjoy most about being a bartender is taking care of people and crafting an experience for them.”
His latest love? Amaro (Italian for “bitter”), an Italian herbal liqueur often enjoyed as a digestif. Fulgencio is fascinated by its centuries-old history, and the way the flavour profiles vary between makers. In his opinion, it’s a more nuanced and accessible option to the more commonly known Aperol. “Some Amaros are more fruity, and others more medicinal,” he says. “I’m on a mission to hunt down and taste as many as possible.” For his summer cocktail specialty, he’s combined Amaro Montenegro with Sotol, a distillate made from wild-harvested Desert Spoon shrubs.
Even in his off hours, Fulgencio finds himself experimenting with creative new concoctions – to the delight of his guests. “Once I go all in, it’s a fixation for me,” he says. “I feel like I’m just getting started.”
Desert Spoon Spritz
Equal parts floral and herbaceous, this sunset-hour cocktail pairs well with savoury snacks and good company. “I once heard it said you should drink the shade of cocktail that’s the closest to the sky, so this is my ode to a summer evening in Nova Scotia,” Fulgencio says.
What you’ll need
- Champagne flute
- Mixing glass
- Jigger for measuring
- Bar spoon for stirring
- 1-1/2 tbsp. Sotol Ono (Substitute for Mezcal if you can’t find Sotol)
- 2 tbsp. Amaro Montenegro
- 1/2 tbsp. simple syrup
- Soda water
- Cucumber slices and ribbons
- Add Sotol Ono, Amaro Montenegro and simple syrup into mixing glass
- Add two slices of cucumber into mixing glass and lightly press slices
- Fill mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled
- Strain mix into a Champagne flute filled with ice
- Add soda water to taste and garnish with cucumber ribbons
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