Skip to main content

Beverage Director Jarett Karlsberg Tells us Story Behind His Authentic Cocktail Menu

In the cozy Wythe Hotel, nestled in the heart of Brooklyn, beverage director Jarett Karlsberg is responsible for the magic within its bars.

With a background that began with dreams of acting and a part-time gig as a bartender, Jarett’s journey took an unexpected turn when he discovered the allure of mixology. We ask him to tell us more.

Tell us a bit about your background.

I initially moved to New York City to pursue acting, which I did for a while as I learned bartending on the side. In 2011, I moved to Brooklyn and began working at Wythe Hotel, which opened in 2012. This marked a turning point for me – I quickly developed a strong attachment to the hotel, its work ethos, and the neighborhood. In 2019, Le Crocodile, our French brasserie to the right of the main lobby, was launched. I had the privilege of being mentored by Jim Kearns, who currently oversees the beverage program at the renowned Surf Lodge restaurant in Montauk. Jim’s guidance reshaped my perception of bartending and methods of delivering the most exceptional service.

During the pandemic, I jumped at the opportunity to step into a management role. Shortly thereafter, I was promoted to Bar Manager and dedicated myself to growing in this profession as best as I could. After a brief period, I was offered the position of Beverage Director. Though I felt daunted, I was inspired by the opportunity to become such a fundamental part of Wythe – a place that I love so much and has meant so much to me over the last decade.

Talk to us about the transition from bartender to beverage director.

I found the transition to be challenging but ultimately very rewarding. I had been solely focused on the bar and the service each guest received, and then I was responsible for developing and achieving a vision for an entire program. This vision had to carry a sense of novelty that would resonate with the consumer while also aligning seamlessly with the ethos of Wythe Hotel. Ultimately, the goal remains unchanged: to ensure that each and every guest has the best possible time from the moment they step through our doors. The only difference lies in the scale.

What should guests expect from visiting the Wythe Hotel and the bars there?

Attentive, warm, and genuine hospitality – each guest should expect to feel well taken care of and assured that they are in good hands. Excellent food, fantastic cocktails, authentic and gorgeous spaces – a place where people from all around the world, as well as those from just down the street, can come to have a wonderful time and experience the genuine warmth of both the environment and the people within it.

What can you tell us about the inspiration for the bar program?

We use classic cocktails in their most iconic or original recipes as a starting point, aiming to create the best and most authentic version of each drink. We want to get at the true identity of the cocktail and what it is trying to be. Products that may veer off the beaten path but provide a unique and compelling story. We like to use local spirits and products as much as possible, alongside wonderful well-made, environmentally conscious products from all over the world.

At Le Crocodile, we often create localized adaptations of classics or infuse them with French elements. Over at Bar Blondeau, we like the drinks to have an elevated, celebratory feel to them. All throughout, we are striving to make drinks that are amazing on their own but also go well with food. Another core objective for us is maximum sustainability. We frequently craft our own syrups using by-products from juicing or creating garnishes, and we are in constant collaboration with the kitchen to discover innovative ways to maximize the potential of each individual ingredient.

What would most people be surprised to learn about the hotel/beverage program?

I’m not sure how much of a surprise this is, but I love giving people a fresh experience of something they may have had many times before. We put twists on classics that exceed their expectations and introduce them to something new and exciting. Our cocktails and spirits tell a story that is unique to this neighborhood and this hotel, a story they can take with them and remember wherever they go. I think the beauty in our Authenticity is surprising.

What do you think Bartenders/Beverage Directors need to incorporate these days for success?

I feel like this is a personal thing, but my focus has always centered on experimenting with as many spirits and products as I can. This helps me discover those truly exceptional and distinctive items, so we can then determine how to showcase them in a clean, layered, and confident way. The people crafting these products invest their heart and soul into them, and it is my job to let them sing in whatever way that is for each spirit. All of this with the hope of introducing people to their beauty. In New York, we have such unparalleled access to everything from spirits to fruit, and I think that is an amazing gift and tool to be used.

The post Beverage Director Jarett Karlsberg Tells us Story Behind His Authentic Cocktail Menu appeared first on Chilled Magazine.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.