510 Hudson St.
New York, NY 10014
(212) 242-3021


CYD KLEIN: Cocktail creation is a fairly modern concept, but just as fashion changes with the times, so do preferences for cocktails. What are some current trends you’ve seen in the cocktail market?
JASON KOSMAS: Actually, the first cocktail book was printed over 120 years ago, but it is true that what people drink has evolved over time. I think what we are witnessing today is a return to the classic method of cocktail creation. Bars and restaurants are abandoning the sour-mix mentality; squeezing their own fresh juices, using better quality ingredients, and paying attention to the care that goes into mixing. This coincides with the Martini-craze that we have seen for the last 10 years or so. I have recently seen some great cocktails made with gin and Champagne appearing on menus.

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Jason Kosmas
Employees Only | New York City

Jason got his start in cocktail mixology during college, working as a bar-back at a cajun-style restaurant in New Jersey. Learning to mix southern-style cocktails such as Hurricanes, Swamp Waters and Mint Juleps, he was fascinated by the countless possibilities. Jason’s cocktail creations have thrilled New Yorkers since his early days at Pravda. Today he is a partner and principal bartender at Employees Only, where his ingredient-focused drinks reflect a return to the classics, with an updated twist, of course.


West Side Cocktail
From Bar Chef Jason Kosmas of Employees Only- New York, NY
Adapted by StarChefs.com

This cocktail is a variation of the “South Side” cocktail. It is the same recipe only Kosmas substitutes citrus vodka instead of gin.

Yield: 1 Serving


  • 1 1/2 ounces citrus vodka
  • 1 1/2 ounces fresh lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 fresh mint sprigs
  • Splash of club soda

Pour vodka, lemon juice and simple syrup into a mixing glass. Add mint and ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Top off with club soda.


Interview Cont'd
CK: What goes into creating a new cocktail? How long does it take you to create a new cocktail?
JK: Creating a cocktail frequently begins with a discovery of a new ingredient. It could be a new spirit or a seasonal item that I want to play and experiment with. After tasting this key ingredient I usually have a good idea of how to mix with it and what proportions to use. Although, sometimes it does happen that the drink needs to be tweaked here and there.

CK: What makes a great aphrodisiac cocktail?
JK: A Champagne Cocktail paired with strawberries would have to be the most sensual aphrodisiac I could think of. I once was commissioned to make a variation of such a drink for Perrier-Jouet. The cocktail consisted only of a strawberry that had been dipped in caramelized sugar accented with lemon zest and vanilla beans. When you drop the strawberry into the champagne, the sugar coating dissolves imparting a subtle hint of flavor.

CK: Are you ever inspired by old recipes for new drinks?
JK: All the time. There is a wealth of beautiful cocktails out there that are delicious, balanced and sophisticated. I like to play with variations of these drinks (such as the Calvados Sidecar) and relate them to today’s drinker.

CK: How did you get into mixology?
JK: When I was in college, I worked as a barback at a Louisianan/Cajun restaurant. They had all kinds of southern style cocktails such as Hurricanes, Swamp Waters and Mint Juleps. The service bar was hidden from public view. Most of the bartenders were grad-students and needed to study, so they taught me how to mix all these drinks allowing them time to cram for exams. I was fascinated by the countless possibilities available to me.

CK: Do you think absinthe should be legalized in the US? Why?
JK: I would love to see absinthe back in the US market. I have tried real absinthe alone and in cocktails and it is quite different than Pernod or Richard.

CK: What would you consider the classic cocktail?
JK: I would have to say the Sazarac, which was created around 1860 by Amédée Peychaud. He invented his own brand of bitters and added them to cognac in a glass seasoned with absinthe.

   Published: April 2005