Eleftherios Kraounakis's Peruvian-inspired cocktail menu is now available à la carte.
At La Mar by Gastón Acurio, you can now forego traditional bar bites, and solely indulge in some of his latest drink creations, thanks to their extended nightlife program.
Nicknamed Lef, he joined the eatery's team early this summer as a bar manager, and was asked to spearhead their new bar program, which offers nine new, handcrafted cocktails, and live band and DJ performances.
While the spot inside the Mandarin Oriental hotel is best known for chef Gastón Acurio's Peruvian cuisine, Lef wants to draw more life to the eatery.
"I've been told that before the vibe was a little quiet, but now it's really lively," he says. "On Friday and Saturdays, we make like 200-300 cocktails."
Two fan favorites are the El Clasico, with grey goose vodka, house-made chichi morada, lime, and Spanish sparkling wine; and his Albahaca Pisco, with cucumber and lemongrass infused barsol quebranta-vodka, cucumber-basil purée, lime, and Peychauds bitters.
Acurio's Peruvian-style menu combined with Lef's Mediterranean background played a large part in his cocktail concoctions.
"I'm trying to create different flavors using cultures from Peru and Greece," he says. "I use unique ingredients to make our homemade products like using pisco and Greek spirits together."
Originally born in Greece, Lef moved to the states about three years ago. He has more than 13 years of mixology experience, and has worked in restaurants in both his home country and Miami.
"In Greece, the level is really high," he says. "You make our own syrups and everything. So now with a Peruvian and Mediterranean background, I tried to make a program that combined these things, making everything homemade, using fresh fruits and interesting ingredients."
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Many of the cocktails use dry Peruvian eucalyptus found in the Eucalyptus Mule, and authentic Greek liquors. He makes all of his spirited beverages' juices, syrups, and mixers in house, and finds himself adding passion fruit and guava to many of them.
The restaurant is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. for lunch, and 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. for dinner. Live bands and DJs are offered Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
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