Isaac Steinzor at Drink
The other night when I walked into Drink
, a bar on St. Paul Street in Burlington, I was greeted by the bartender and a wallop of aromatics: Isaac Steinzor, the bartender, was toasting almonds and crushing cloves for his tiki syrup.
"What do you recommend for a drink?" I asked him.
"Booze forward?" replied Steinzor, answering my question with a query of his own. "Yeah," I told him.
"Light?" he wondered. "Nah," I said. "Herbal?" he asked. "I don't think so," I answered.
"More citric?" he pressed for more info. "Uh," I grunted.
"Smoky?" he tried. "Sure." I said.
Finally, it seemed, Steinzor's sleuthing had yielded enough to work with.
"I can make you something I've been working on," offered Steinzor, who described the cocktail he had in mind as intense, smoky and boozy.
"It's almost like a campfire drink," said the 26-year-old bartender. "It's got some funk."
two of my favorite words. "Yes, please!" I said. "What's it called?"
"It doesn't have a name yet," Steinzor said, adding that he'd name it when the cocktail makes its way to the menu.
"The first few iterations were, frankly, dreadful," he told me. "It rounds into shape."
The iteration he handed me — a potent and fiery concoction of Rittenhouse 100-proof rye, Smith & Cross Navy-strength rum, mezcal and more (including liquid smoke) — was, frankly, so booze forward it knocked me back.
Oh, how I wished I were at a campfire, sipping slowly and feeling the glow. But I made do, sunk low in a couch by the window, looking at City Hall Park in the dark.
Steinzor, a Burlington native, got his start bartending at age 18, when he worked at the Ethan Allen Club. He's been at Drink a little more than a year, a tenure that precedes a change in the venue's ownership.
Tony Santaniello, 39, purchased Drink from its longtime owners last summer. A barber by trade, Santaniello owns several local salons, including Lux
on Cherry Street.
"Isaac came with the sale," he said. "We adore him." Santaniello's brother, Sebastian, helps run Drink.
Steinzor charged me $11 for my custom cocktail, and we talked before I left. I asked him about the series of questions he posed trying to zero in on the right drink for me.
"It's a flow-charty mental system," he said. The funnest part of the night is figuring out what the customer wants, "then making it and getting it right."
I'm still dreaming of that campfire.