It’s been a big year for Will Elliott, Bar Director at Brooklyn’s famed absinthe and oyster den, Maison Premiere. Less than a month after the team took home the James Beard Award for Outstanding Bar Program, they opened another project, Sauvage, in nearby Greenpoint.
Big Willie Style
At Sauvage Elliott has installed a drinks menu not unlike Maison’s in both style and execution; the bistro-style bar features more than 200 spirits, six types of ice and a selection of original drinks like the Pastis Cobbler, with its hint of chamomile, and the Sloe Moon’s Rose, a kind of new-age swizzle made with Contratto, Framboise and two types of gin. But in contrast to the more exhaustive program at Maison, Sauvage’s approach is generally simpler, making space for perfected versions of the classic Negroni, the Americano and the Martini. The latter—made from Mahón gin and the unorthodox addition of Mauro Vergano’s moscato-based chinato, Luli, and served with a sidecar of nasturtium flowers, fresh juniper sprigs and caper berries—is just the kind of well-thought-out, carefully crafted drink that’s come to define Elliott’s style.
But what’s his favorite thing to do when he’s not eating, drinking or drink-making? And what does he know now that he wishes he’d known years ago? Here, Elliott takes on our Lookbook Questionnaire, but cautions, “Read at your own risk.” —Lizzie Munro
What do want to be when you grow up?
I want to be a marine biologist when I grow up. I spend a lot of time watching documentaries about aquatic life to draw inspiration for cocktail garnishes and colors, so I figure my training process has already begun.
Best thing you ever drank:
Laurent Cazottes Quince Sauvage
Twisted Tea Half-&-Half
Worst thing you ever drank:
Chinese hawthorne berry drink. Also, any beer with a lime. That needs to stop.
First time you ever got drunk:
Pernod Pastis, which is meant for cooking. I was about 12. My mom got a little upset and had to use way more fennel and anise than she anticipated. I argued that she was overreacting.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Paris by Paris Hilton
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have / have had?
I like finding health-goth/vape-life apparel in local thrift stores.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
I once put Strega into a stirred rhum agricole cocktail with Sapin 40% (a French herbal liqueur) and a dose of Peychaud’s bitters. There are still burn marks on the coaster. It was called Victoria’s Secret. Terrible, but true. Bad names happen. Bad Strega drinks happen. But never that bad. I’ve also done some stuff with Moxie and baijiu that’s made some enemies.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
My favorite thing to do when I’m not eating, drinking or drink-making is ride my bike in a neighborhood I don’t know while engaging in that vape life. I also love to see live chamber music at public libraries.
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
“Something like a beer, but not a beer.”
Your favorite bar, and why:
Spuyten Duyvil. It has layers of scents and scuffs like the rings of a tree. Also, there’s nothing to shoot, liquor-wise, so bad decisions are muted by the pint. I like that pace.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
Anything home-cooked or made by a fisherman—like baked, stuffed lobster or urchin opened live with your feet in the sea.
Last text message you sent:
Banh mi? Banh you, Shae.