He might just seem like a really well-rounded guy, with interests spanning music, mopeds, and mixology. But 2011 New York Rising Star Mixologist Damon Boelte is actually a cocktails and spirits aficionado—and an antique bitters-bottles collector to boot. Boelte didn’t get into mixology immediately (he pursued his other passions first, including graphic design and rock music), but the discovery of his own talent behind the bar, combined with the free-ranging creativity of cocktail culture, convinced Boelte that serious bartending was a more than worthwhile professional pursuit.
Over the course of his rapid rise, Boelte has worked in various corners of the industry. At the famed LeNell’s LTD spirits shop, Boelte worked alongside LeNell Smothers, teaching classes on bourbon and cheese, wine, bitters, and rare spirits. And he’s worked with many spirits and beverage companies, including Maker’s Mark, Plymouth Gin, Tito’s Vodka, Corzo Tequila, the American Gin Company, Highland Park, and Stumptown Coffee.
Boelte’s also consulted for many bars and restaurants in New York City. And as bar director of the Frankys team’s latest, Prime Meats, in Carroll Gardens, Boelte is able to fuse his love of legendary 19th and early 20th century bartenders and authors such as Jerry Thomas, Harry Johnson, Charles H. Baker, Hugo Ensslin, and Jacques Straub with modern influences like David Wondrich, Dale DeGroff, Gaz Regan, and Beachbum Berry—all while developing his own recipes and methods. But Boelte isn’t just creating behind the bar. He shares his cocktails and techniques with various publications, including New York Magazine, The New York Times, Time Out, Imbibe Magazine, GQ, Edible Brooklyn and Manhattan, Saveur, Bon Appetit, La Cucina Italiana, Food & Wine, Travel & Leisure, Eater.com, TastingTable.com, and SeriousEats.com. And when he’s not mixing, writing, or playing with his band, Boelte can be heard talking up all things beverage—from spirits and cocktails to beer, tea, and coffee—on “The Speakeasy,” every Wednesday at 3pm on Heritage Radio Network.