Industry Insiders: Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi, the Gurus Behind Bar Lab

When it’s time to get your drink on, Gabriel Orta and Elad Zvi are the men to know in Miami. The mixology gurus behind Bar Lab, a consulting service respondible for the cocktail menus at such nightlife mainstays as Gansevoort South hotel and W South Beach, embody an encyclopedia knowledge of spirits, mixers, garnishes, and glassware. This knowledge has won them devoted fans across the Magic City. So what’s the secret to their booming success? The two alchemists fill us in.

How has mixology changed over the years?
Elad Zvi: It has changed a lot and is always evolving. A while back, bartenders were using sugar-based juices and not-so-good ingredients. Now it’s all about freshness and the quality of your product.
What are some mixology rules that you’ve broken? 
Zvi: One of my favorites is the belief that classic cocktails should only be made certain ways; today there are many ways to make a classic, like frozen or tiki-style.
Your thoughts on wine.
Gabriel Orta: Wine is great! So many different wines in the market right now are actually great for cocktails. Some of my favorite wine regions are Portland, New Zealand and Argentina.
Pairing cocktails with your meal…yay or “wine-only” territory?
Orta: Yes!!!! More and more chefs are doing this now. Cocktails permit for more ingredients that actually support the meal. We do a monthly pairing dinner with different chefs in Miami, with great success.
Where do you go to hang out and drink?
Orta: In Miami we like to hang out at The Dutch, Sra. Martinez, Tropical Chinese; but really, our favorite place to hang is the ocean. It’s the best place to get inspired.
What makes the cocktails you design so out-of-the-ordinary?
Zvi: We always use ingredients that are unique and exotic. We like ingredients from the Middle East, India, Asia, and South America.
What do all master mixologists have in common?
Orta: We all come from the hospitality industry, so no matter how much we have accomplished or know about the art of cocktailing, we are all here to give our guests a great experience.
Is there a spirit or an ingredient you won’t use?
Zvi: Spirit-wise, I like them all. But the one fruit I wouldn’t touch is durian. The smell and taste is just too strong. It overpowers everything.
What is the next frontier in mixology?
Orta: Now is all about the ice; from shaved ice to block of ice to different shapes, ice is one of the most important ingredients in a cocktail. Also, cocktails on tab…instead of draft beer, you can have a Manhattan or a margarita on tab made from fresh ingredients.
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