Illustration by Jill DeGroff, Story by Carlos Enrique Cuarta

I was delighted when Francine invited me to do an ongoing series of bartender portraits for INSIDE F&B.

We all have our favorite bartenders – and most of the time they do all the listening. Wouldn’t it be nice to listen to them for a change?

So here begins a new series, Portraits from the Bar, featuring a special bartender or cocktailian each week. Let’s begin with one of Chicago’s finest mixologists, Carlos Enrique Cuarta.

Originally from Venezuela, Carlos is an active member of the USBG Illinois Chapter and a passionate supporter of many of the industry’s charitable organizations, including The Museum of the American Cocktail. In 2010, Carlos was the recipient of the Diageo Celebrate the Future Scholarship Fund, which enabled him to continue his spirits education at the prestigious Beverage Alcohol Resource in New York City.

Here is a little story he told me about his childhood:

“As a child I loved to negotiate- I might trade three balls in exchange for a baseball bat, a soccer ball for a bicycle seat, or homework in exchange for biscuits and sweets… All was negotiable. So one day my Uncle Ramon took me to the amusement park. He always bought me plenty of tickets for the rides but as quickly as they came into my hand, they were gone. Finally it was lunch time. My uncle drank a few beers and I had a Malta. I was only seven years old, but I understood currency and math.

Uncle Ramon, I asked, ‘What is the price of your beer?
A Bolivar, he replied.
And a Malta?
Twenty-five cents.
I propose a deal, I said. For every beer you drink while I drink a Malta, you give me 75 cents—the difference in value between the two.

He looked at me, smiled [and said] Okay, Carlitos.
By now I had drunk two maltas and my uncle four beers, so I applied my math again…
Uncle, you owe me $3.50.
But you have drunk only two maltas, Carlitos…

Ah, but you have drunk four beers so you owe me 75 cents for the first two, and a Bolivar for the other two. Whether I drink or not, you must pay the difference so we are equal in spending- and this way we can put all the money towards our next visit to the amusement park!

My uncle looked at me and laughed, You are a clever rascal, Carlitos!

To this day he recalls that moment with great delight.”

— Carlos Enrique Cuarta

By Carlos Enrique Cuarta

1 ¾ oz Diplomatico Añejo
¼ oz Spiced Rum
½ oz Cynar Artichoke Liqueur
½ oz Lemon Juice
½ oz Honey Syrup
Egg White
4 Fresh Sage Leaves, medium size

Pre-chill your cocktail glass before preparation, adding ice and a little water. Set aside. In mixing glass, add two sage leaves, honey syrup, lemon juice, Cynar Liqueur, and muddle. Add Diplomatico Añejo, spiced rum, and egg white. Add ice to tin, shake well. Discard the ice and water out of the coupe. Then, double-strain using the strainer on the shaker while pouring contents through a sieve placed over the coupe. Garnish with two sage leaves. Sip and Salud!

Jill DeGroff is the author and illustrator of Lush Life; Portraits from the Bar. To see more portraits from the bar, visit her online Rogues Gallery at //