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Cocktail evolution or cocktail revolution? Mixologists have the last word.

Mixologists are not exactly at the top of the list of most popular or well-known professions. However, what mixologists do is becoming more and more in demand, adding an exciting dimension to any event. The creation of cocktails has been elevated to an art form and mixologists are using fruits, vegetables, spices and other flavors as precisely as a chef would. Much like one would work with a caterer to plan the menu, outline the courses, and add any specialty dishes, a mixologist would create signature drinks to add color, texture, excitement and a splash of “interesting” to the cocktail hour or throughout the reception.

Yusef Austin, of Elite Elixirs in New York, describes himself as a “cocktail architect.” He will conceive, plan and execute original drink recipes that may reflect characteristics of a geographical location such as suave and trendy South Beach or the elegance and sophistication of a New York affair; others are simply a reflection of his client’s personalities.

He has been known to work with planners such as Colin Cowie, as well as caterers or directly with clients to customize drinks for events no matter how small or elaborate. Signature drinks may be a creative spinoff from popular favorites such as the Cosmopolitan or an original concoction like Pomegranate Passion where just the right mix of Ketel One vodka, purée of raspberry, pomegranate juice and blood orange juice yields a delicious result. For a wedding in Cabo, Elite Elixirs was challenged to create a Mexican-inspired menu. Yusef recalls: “Fresh purées of guava, pomegranate and peach allowed the simple taste of our tequilas to come shining through and the margaritas were slamming!”

Although he now lives in New York, Yusef has traveled and lived around the world soaking up the tastes and styles that surround him, infusing them into his cocktail creations. “Creativity, freshness, style, taste and design are what we are all about,” he notes. “Working each day to keep all this flowing into your glass and making that special impression is what I love to do. Raise your glass to celebrate life!”

> Written by Yanni Tzoumas



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