Thinking outside the box at a Bronx cocktail lab
By Joe DiStefano
Upon entering the Liquid Lab in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, one might think that it is the uptown lair of a mad scientist, or perhaps a liquor wholesaler. Despite the vast selection of unusual booze and tons of specialized equipment amassed by cocktail consultant Junior Merino, aka the Liquid Chef and the man behind the lab, there is nothing mad about the lab. Instead it is quite the sane center of experimentation and exploration where acclaimed mixologist and spirits educator Merino teaches daylong mixology workshops.
The workshops provide attendees access to some 2,400 bottles of spirits—gin, vodka, rum, whisky, tequila, and mezcal—and liqueurs from such easily obtained varieties as Chartreuse Yellow and Dolin Vermouth de Chambéry (Blanc) to lesser seen ones like Agwa de Bolivia made from Bolivian coca leaves, guarana, and ginseng line the walls of this one-bedroom apartment given over to the art and science of mixology. There’s no lack of bitters. Merino stocks 30, from Fee Brothers Cherry to what is surely the world’s smallest bottle of Angostura.