Camille Austin was so fantastic as a 2010 Midnight Mixologist, that we just had to ask her back this year. Here is the bartending beauty on Miami nightlife, her go-to ingredient, and that pompadour. Also, see below for her top ten favorite spots to grab a cocktail in Miami.
How did you get into mixology?
I’ve been into cocktails since my venue opened in Miami. All it takes is one person that’s passionate about their craft to bounce that same passion onto you.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
A great day at the bar is when I see a bunch of my regulars, we have great conversation, and they leave happy and tipsy.
How do you name the drinks you create?
Sometimes it comes easily, and sometimes it needs a little thought. It’s almost like you’re creating a character, and you need the perfect name to represent their unique personality.
How is your approach to mixology different from everybody else’s?
The great thing about the world is that we’re all similar in some ways, and different in others. Anyone who chooses to do this as a career has love for it. So in that respect, we all love what we do, and want to make people happy. It’s also great that the world is diverse. I can visit New York City, for example, hit 5 bars in one day, and have 5 unique cocktails, all equally great.
What was your inspiration for the cocktail you created for Stoli?
I’m very much into Eastern culture at the moment. I think you can really experience a culture by its cuisine, and this is definitely something I would be sipping on if I were sitting at a swanky rooftop bar in Shanghai.
What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received as a mixologist?
People dig the pompadour! They ask me all the time if they can touch it, and I say, "Absolutely!"
What does it take to be a great mixologist? Is it a God-given gift, or something you can learn?
Tony Abou-Ganim, one of my favorite bartenders, says that you can train skills, but you can’t train personality. I like to remember that when I’m having a bad day, so I change my mood before I step into the bar. Aside from that, you just need a little passion, imagination, and eagerness to learn.
What’s the most important lesson about mixology you’ve learned in your years on the job?
To take pride in what you do. Never skimp on freshness or quality, and make friends with the chefs!
What makes your venue special?
My bar is just stunning. I’ve been there for over 2 years now, and there are still days when I walk in and think "Wow." Being there invokes a feeling of anticipation and a true engagement of all the senses. The gorgeous dècor, the mouthwatering aromas, and the sexy beats from our resident DJ Jean Marc leave you wanting more.
What nightlife trend rubs you the wrong way?
Rose’s lime juice, soda guns, and shaking a martini or classic all-spirit cocktail.
What’s the secret to running a great bar?
Passion and attention to detail.
Who is your ideal customer?
Someone that’s open to try something new.
What do you love most about Miami at night?
I love Miami’s vibrant party scene. It has such a unique and uplifting energy. There’s heat and passion here.
What personal innovations have you brought to the nightlife game?
I’m excited that we’re starting to see a strong female element in the Miami cocktail scene. I love a classic all-male bar, but a male/female bar can be just as great because men and women complement each other nicely.
What’s your go-to ingredient to make a great cocktail?
At the moment, tea, ginger, and edible flowers.
Austin’s Top Ten Miami Spots for a Cocktail
- Purdy Lounge
- Soho Beach House
- Mynt Ultra Lounge
- The Florida Room
- Sra. Martinez
- The Living Room at the W
To read more interviews with Midnight Mixologists, click here.