Behind the Bar: Frank Vairo at Upstairs at Estate House
Frank Vairo is looking to start a revolution. The 32 year-old bartender at Upstairs at Estate House is single-handedly working to create a new generation of timeless cocktails with a modern twist.
After working at neighboring Kazimierz Wine Bar for the past nine years, he brings an expertise in wine along with a passion for entertaining and well-crafted cocktails and a thirst for something new. Try one of Vairo's cocktails and you'll find his bartending philosophy of creating quality drinks over showmanship rings true every time.
How did you get started bartending? My grandfather was in the bar business back in New York, and always liked it. When I was in college, I started bar backing and then became a bartender.
Did you see yourself being a bartender? I got my bachelor of interdisciplinary studies from ASU, focusing on business and communication. I want to be a restaurateur, so why not bartend to figure it out.
What's your favorite thing about bartending? I love nightlife, so probably just being out and not having to pay for it. Entertaining.
What is your least favorite drink to make? A mojito. It's labor intensive, and ultimately I don't think it's that good of a drink, but I'm not really a rum drinker.
What's your favorite drink to make? An old fashioned. I love it, it's an original drink, fun to make. I take pride in it, and I think it's a well-balanced drink. I'm just a big fan of an old fashioned.
Is that also your favorite drink to drink? It's one of them. For me, it depends on what I'm eating and doing. If I'm eating, it's wine, if I'm sipping on something, scotch.
Do you have a least favorite drink? Probably sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. I just can't do the grapefruit. I like Sancerre sauvignon blancs though; it's a specific region in France that makes sauvignon blanc.
Sounds like you know a thing or two about wine.
My real background is in wine, ultimately. I worked at Kazimierz for nine years, so if I don't know something about wine, I'm in trouble.
What's in your bar at home? Scotch, wine, and I like flavored vodkas too. If I'm drinking to go out, I can't sip scotch all night, so I'll drink flavored a vodka and soda or straight vodka soda.
What's your favorite drink to have on vacation? Probably just vodka and soda. It's just an easy drink and you can't really screw it up if you're somewhere and they don't know what they are doing.
What's your favorite ingredient to use in drinks? Simple syrup, because it makes everything taste good. When in doubt, add a little simple syrup to it.
Are there any bartending trends you're ready to see fade out? It's funny, I'm going to contradict myself because I love an old fashioned, but all of the classic drinks. I think the cocktail culture needs new drinks, rather than trying to change the old ones that were good at one time.
What trends are you excited to see incorporated in bartending? A quality drink rather than just showmanship.
So you don't have any flairtending moves, I take it? Nope.
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