Gaston Gonzalez is the resident tippler and head bartender at Area 31. After years of traveling through South America, he finally chose Miami as his home. And thank goodness at that...
The Buenos Aires native currently creates seasonally inspired libations that combine savory spices with fresh fruit and artisan spirits. His approach is certainly more organic than other cocktailians. It's about what is ripe and fresh now, balanced out with some citrus and savory spice or herbs. Above all, Gaston's cocktails highlight the main spirit rather than masking it with too many flavors and ingredients.
Gaston carefully selects spirits because of their flavor profiles; for example, instead of making caramel, he finds something similar, i.e.. the Ron Atlantico he uses in his Cinnarum. Ron Atlantico is a small batch Dominican rum with toasted hazelnut and caramel notes that is aged in an oak cask and goes down like velvet.
Short Order was able to taste some of Gaston's creations. In keeping with seasonality, he blended warming spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cascabel chile and ginger with different sorts of citrus, passion fruit, vanilla, caramel, the list keeps going. Short Order's top picks were the Cinnarum and the Pepperita; both were genius! The not-so-hot pick, was a Grey Goose Grapefruit Ginger Fizz. We could have lived without that one.
If you go to Area 31, check out the spirit selection behind the bar. Each brand serves a function. Gone are the times when bars displayed bottle after bottle of flavored rums and vodkas. Consultants, bar chefs, and professional bartenders recognize the difference and importance of infusions, syrups, bitters, purees and juices.
These days, a properly stocked bar uses tools like microplanes, juicers, strainers and squeeze bottles; and prep lists are more akin to those found hanging up on kitchen clip boards than run of the mill inventory bar sheets.
3 Reasons to go visit Gaston at Area 31:
- The Pepperita - his take on a Margarita uses cascabel infused white tequila, passion fruit puree, lime and agave
- The Cinnarum - a warm blend of nutty Atlantico rum, pineapple juice, Licor 43, cinnamon and nutmeg
- Gaston - typically Latin, he's tall, dark and handsome...being easy on the eyes never hurt a soul...
Happy Hour at Area 31 is Monday through Friday from 5-7 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursdays. Cocktails start at $5, as do snacks. Valet is $5 with validation Monday through Thursday, but then a wopping ten buck after 5 p.m. on Fridays.
S.O. says, "Skip Fridays..." What's the point of getting a deal on your drinks if only to have pay double for valet to get your car?
- 2 oz of Atlantico Rum
- 1/2 oz Licor 43
- 3/4 oz Lime Juice
- 3/4 oz Pineapple Juice
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- Grated Nutmeg
Combine and shake ingredients. Pour over fresh ice and garnish with a stick stick of cinnamon and top off with grated nutmeg.
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- 2oz Herradura Tequila Silver infused with Cascabel Chiles
- 1oz Passion Fruit Juice
- 1oz Agave
- Juice of half a lime (roughly 1 oz)
Combine and shake ingredients. Pour over fresh ice and garnish with a lime wedge.