It’s a warm Friday night when I meet Amanda Warner, known professionally as MNDR, at TOY, a slick new Asian-themed restaurant in the Gansevoort Meatpacking District hotel. We’re here to chat about her music and to taste a selection of creative cocktails dreamed up by bartender Albert DePompeis that are inspired by Latin America. It’s a good time for Warner to take a breather, as she’s been working nonstop. “I’ve been on tour for like three years,” she explains with a laugh.
That’s not hyperbole. The Fargo native has been in demand since coming to New York in 2008 for her mastery of keyboards, drum machines, and other electronic musical gizmos, not to mention her sultry, hypnotic voice, which helped make DJ legend Mark Ronson’s single “Bang Bang Bang” a party anthem two years ago. She’s been supporting Ronson as a member of his band, The Business International, and doing the club circuit on her own (you can often catch her at Le Bain, a posh club atop the Standard Hotel), using any available downtime to record her new album, Feed Me Diamonds. But on the eve of yet another tour, this time with Duran Duran, she’ll sample a flight of sublime cocktails that showcase DePompeis’ crazy skills behind the bar. A few highlights from a wild evening:
Combine 2 1/2 oz Peruvian *pisco, 1/2 oz egg white, 1/2 oz sage-infused simple syrup, and 2 oz fresh lemon juice in a shaker filled with four ice cubes. Shake until egg whites froth, add more ice, shake again, and strain into a martini glass. Add two dashes Angostura bitters. Squeeze thick-sliced lemon peel over flame to ignite oil. Garnish with lemon peel and two sprigs of sage.
“Bravo! So this is a play on a Pisco Sour? I can’t believe there’s fire involved. Do that again, I want to take a picture. Mmm, it’s super complicated, yet light and refreshing. This is what you drink at a really amazing barbecue hosted by your friend who used to play music and then became normal and married a lawyer. Their barbecues always have amazing food and the dude researches the drinks and brings these out. I really like it.”
In Bar We Trust
Muddle 3 chopped strawberries, 1 sliced Serrano pepper disk (with seeds) and 1 oz rosé simple syrup in a shaker. Add ice, 1 oz lemon juice, 1 ½ oz Cointreau, and 3 oz mezcal. Shake and pour into a wine glass. Top with club soda and garnish with mint sprig.
“Is this an eHarmony Drink or an OK Cupid drink? Oh, it’s definitely OK Cupid. I know that the guy or girl who buys me this drink isn’t down for a serious relationship. I absolutely love this. I think we’re having a good time, Victor, but I could see how this could totally bomb on you. As for this drink, it’s light, it’s breezy, it’s smoky. It’s a sophisticated one-night stand.”
In a shaker, muddle 5 raspberries with ½ oz cucumber juice and ½ oz simple syrup. Add ice and 1 oz Amaro Averna, 3 oz mescal, and 1 oz fresh lime juice. Shake and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a pinch of black pepper.
[MNDR applauds.] “Ladies and gentlemen, Albert from TOY! This is a sexy, sensual drink.”
I’m Getting Too Old For This
“It’s my 30th birthday. Let’s drink this and then I’ll tell you about it,” says Albert.
In an ice-filled shaker, combine 1 ½ oz blanco tequila, ½ oz lemon juice, and a splash of grapefruit juice. Strain into large shot glass. Add ¼ oz cherry herring, let settle on bottom of the glass. Add dash bitters.
“Happy Birthday Albert! Damn that went down like nothing. We’re pushing the boulder over the cliff now. This one is straight up sexuality.”
*About that pisco: The fiery grape brandy was first produced in Peru in the late 1500s, but now it’s now one of the fastest growing liquors in the U.S. Today, Pisco is divided between Peruvian and Chilean varieties, and I tasted one of each. Representing the former, Pisco Portón ($40) has a gorgeous aroma of apples and melon and mildly sweet vanilla flavors with hints of buttered vegetables. Kappa Pisco ($34), from Chile’s Elqui Valley, is fragrant like a garden patch after a spring rain, and tastes of caramel with a bracing mint finish. Both are a pleasure to sip on their own, or to use in easy-to-mix cocktails like the pisco sour and pisco punch.