Cocktails & Spirits

Zuma Mixologist Theo Von Ungern-Sternberg Talks About His Favorite Drink

Last week, we introduced you to Zuma's newest London import, award-winning mixologist Theo Von Ungern-Sternberg. When it comes to bartending, there actually is a method behind his modern cocktail madness. He believes most in balance, saying that "the artistic side for me is where it all begins, and the science is

where it's going."

His plans are to infuse an even greater dose of authentic Japanese style and technique into the cocktail menu, so today we delve a bit deeper into how his appearance behind the bar at Zuma will be affecting the drink line-up.

New Times: Are there culinary influences in your mixology style?

Theo Von Ungern-Sternberg: Absolutely. A lot of the top mixologists are more and more spending

time in the kitchen, in pastry particularly. They're getting all of

their newfangled tricks and ideas from the culinary background. It's

really where it all came from -- the kind of chemical influence into


Are you bringing any new drinks along for the ride? Anything new on the cocktail horizon at Zuma?

Absolutely, one hundred percent. I can't tell you yet though, that would ruin the surprise.

Not even a little hint? Any particular Ingredients that you like to work with that you think you'll be incorporating into new drinks here?

What I want to do is bring a slightly more authentic Japanese style to the drinks in Zuma Miami, very much the same as the food menu -- authentic but not necessarily classical. We want to work the whole Japanese ethos, particularly in terms of styles of bartending. We're going to be looking at a lot different styles, bringing some of the trainings from the more obscure Japanese bartenders that don't necessarily have a reach into the Western world. I'm really going to try and bring some of those techniques into Miami, and also work some of the more authentic Japanese ingredients into contemporary Miami cocktails.

What ingredients do you think go best with Asian cuisines, especially those subtle Japanese flavors?

It's difficult to describe. Everything that we are going to be working with will have certain attributes that will lend itself to that Japanese style of drink making. Yes, we want it to be authentic, but there are certain items that, for want of a better word, are elements of fusion in Zuma. For instance, there are notes of cilantro in dishes here or South American fish. We play on local tastes and combine those with authentic Japanese cooking to make localized dishes. That's what we want to do on the cocktail menu as well -- mirror what they're doing in the kitchen, on the bar.

Do you have a favorite drink?

Anything that I make -- though that will sound rather arrogant! My favorite all around cocktail depends on what mood I am in. But my favorite drink on the Zuma menu is the Zuma Mai Tai. It was my first drink that was put on the Zuma menu back in London, and it has been mirrored worldwide.

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