Tell us about yourself, Larissa!

I’m originally from San Francisco, approaching my 10 year mark in New York. I’ve spent the past decade eating and drinking my way through the city, always looking for the next dish or cocktail that was going to knock my socks off. I loved growing up surrounded by many different cultures and types of food in California. It has helped me to appreciate several different flavors and combinations from mainstream to completely off the wall; I’ll try anything once ;)

I moved cross country for school originally, and the restaurant business seemed a natural progression, starting as a hostess and learning and growing from there. I started bartending on the Lower east side, (back when I was one of maybe 2 white girls on Ave. C ) and have worked with several NYC restaurants from gritty Ave C to the tree lined streets of the UWS and everywhere in between (with the crazy NY customers that come with each). Now I am happy to live and work in Brooklyn, where the crazy is just a touch more balanced.

What is your favorite drink to make for these crazy NY customers?

My favorite drink to make would have to be the one that is truly enjoyed. I know that sounds corny, but when I take the time and effort to really craft and present a great cocktail for someone at my bar (especially if it’s something they were maybe a little hesitant about) and I see that moment of satisfaction or surprise its incredibly rewarding.

And your least favorite?

I don’t think I have a ‘least favorite drink to make’, most people would probably say mojito or something that takes more effort muddling etc… My first bar however, we were mojito machines, making 5-10 at a time, with raw sugar, in one of the smallest bar spaces ever dreamt up, with the bar 3 deep with demanding drunk customers. So these days I’ll take a well-crafted mojito, no problem.

What is the craziest thing a patron has ever said or done to you?

Pinpointing THE absolute craziest person/ encounter/ thing said while bartending in NY is like asking which Ben & Jerry’s flavor I like best: choosing one is nearly impossible. Imagine the requests of the old bittys on the UWS, or the large dose of crazies in Midtown that asks for a French toast martini, or grabs your Pernod off the bar and dowses their salad in it thinking its olive oil. And there’s always the inappropriate creepy old man: who as I paused to see if indeed we did carry ‘Black Bush’ Whiskey, he interrupted: “Shouldn’t you know that by this point in your life?” with a hearty chuckle. Ugh…

Sounds like you’ve seen it all! Last but not least: spicy or sweet?!

Spicy or Sweet? Ahh.. much like bartending and this crazy business… very often spicy but sometimes oh so sweet. I’m a big fan of sweet/ savory combinations and love incorporating that into a good cocktail. That being said a good balance between spicy and sweet would have to be my favorite, which is actually what I worked on with this cocktail. It hits smooth and a little sweet, with a spicy finish that isn’t too harsh or over bearing. Spicy, sweet, strong, stirred…. Si Senor, I’ll have another!

Thanks so much, Larissa! See her special Cayrum Cocktail

Tough Love

Caracas Arepa Bar is located at 291 Grand St (between Havemeyer st and Roebling st) in Williamsburg (Brooklyn). Be sure to check out the Caracas Dark & Stormy, which is regularly featured on their menu. It’s not your run of the mill Dark n Stormy! Check it out here:

Caracas Dark & Stormy