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Bartender in Residence

For the Salehi Brothers, Creativity Is Collaborative

June 01, 2021

Story: Chloe Frechette

photo: Kelly Puleio

Bartender in Residence

For the Salehi Brothers, Creativity Is Collaborative

June 01, 2021

Story: Chloe Frechette

photo: Kelly Puleio

The San Francisco-based twins share a vision for drinks that combine simplicity with a keen sense for aesthetics.

“My career as a bartender has always been in lockstep with my twin brother Miguel,” explains Milo Salehi. “My story is really our story.”

PUNCH Bartender in Residence Class of 2021As cliché as that may sound, for the Salehi brothers, it’s more than just a platitude. For the past 10 years, their careers have developed in tandem, beginning at age 20 when the two University of South Carolina students responded to a Craigslist ad for a barback position at a local Columbia bar. According to Milo, they got the job because the owner thought it would be “cool” to hire twins. Before long, they moved from barbacks to doormen to bartenders. Ever since, Milo and Miguel have honed their creativity through close collaboration. “That’s always been an advantage for us, a driving force,” explains Miguel of their partnership. “We’re going to do it and we’re going to do it together [and] we’re going to try and be the best at it—that’s always been our mentality.”

Having spent several years serving whiskey-gingers and vodka-sodas in their college town, before they graduated and moved on the duo set out to learn, in Milo’s words, “what an Old-Fashioned really was.” They made the move to the area’s only craft cocktail bar, called—wait for it—Speakeasy, where they worked for several months learning the fundamentals. Milo recalls spending the entirety of his first shift practicing stirring a cocktail with water and ice. “We went from selling drinks for basically a dollar and then suddenly I’m in a white shirt with suspenders,” says Milo. After a brief hiatus in which they both worked in the fashion industry, taking Milo to Beijing and Miguel to New York, the two reunited in San Francisco in 2014.

There, they worked apart for several years (it can sometimes be hard to get hired as a pair) at some of the best bars in the city, like Pacific Cocktail Haven and Whitechapel, before “getting the band back together” at The Beehive, a bar in San Francisco’s Mission District, where Milo currently works as general manager and Miguel as a bartender. Simultaneously, they founded Equal Parts Cocktail, a content creation studio focused on capturing the beauty of drink-making on video. “Before we were even bartending, my favorite thing was just to sit at the bar and watch bartenders work” says Miguel. “There’s a kind of a beauty in the motion and an elegance to the technique ... and all these little details that were not being captured; we wanted to capture more of that process.”

It’s an approach that they translate into the refined simplicity of their own cocktails—drinks like the Two-Piece Martini, an elegant coconut-washed Tuxedo variation, allowing execution to elevate uncomplicated builds and quality ingredients. “Whenever we begin the process of creating something new, we have a set of guidelines that we feel will make it successful,” they explain. But, above all else, they ask themselves one simple question: “Does anyone want to drink this?”

Here, get to know Milo and Miguel Salehi in three cocktails.

Green Emanuelle
Recipe

Green Emanuelle

A cocktail that aims to translate the color green into a flavor.

Two Piece Martini
Recipe

Two-Piece Martini

A coconut-washed Tuxedo variation featuring carrot eau de vie.

Miami Nice Cocktail
Recipe

Miami Nice

Guava stands in for strawberry in this Miami Vice variation.

The BIR Questionnaire

Your approach to cocktails in one word:

Approachable.

Best (and worst) drink you’ve ever had:

The best drink we’ve ever had is probably the Leeward Negroni from Pacific Cocktail Haven. It’s a coconut Campari Negroni with a pandan cordial. So unique and so delicious.

The worst drink we’ve ever had was at a bar we used to work at. The drink was made by a famous chef who didn’t know anything about drink-making. It was essentially a seaweed-infused vodka Martini. It always got sent back, or guests would pass it around to each other as a joke. Sometimes we’ll walk past a garbage bin on a hot summer day and remember that drink.

Your favorite bar, and why:

True Laurel. They continually put out produce-driven cocktails that have blown us away on numerous occasions.

Your favorite classic cocktail, and why:

A gin Martini. It’s just so simple and elegant.

Worst drink you’ve ever made:

We tried to make an olive oil–washed vodka while working on a dirty Martini variation. We probably could have improved it, but we were just so disgusted with the initial attempt that we abandoned the idea altogether.

Your go-to dive bar drink order:

Whatever seasonal milk punch they have on the menu at the time. We’re not too picky. If they don’t have that, then maybe a Guinness or tequila and soda.

The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:

Celebrity-owned tequila brands.