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Liquor Lab’s ‘chief cocktail officer’ on where he drinks when he’s off the clock

Freddie Sarkis got his start in the nightlife industry as a barback in New York City. He cut his teeth in Chicago at places like Broken Shaker, Bordel and Celeste.

It was in the Windy City that he met Owen Meyer, founder of Wine & Whiskey Club, a members-only club for booze aficionados in NYC, and, his latest project, Liquor Lab.

The gig: Liquor Lab

Freddie Sarkis of Liquor Lab. photo provided by
Photo Credit: Michael Stewart

After a pilot run in Chicago, Liquor Lab has landed in SoHo, with preview classes starting Dec. 13 at 138 Wooster St. The event space offers cocktail classes led by Sarkis — Liquor Lab’s “chief cocktail officer,” or COO — and guest bartenders.

“I always had a principle theory that improving the lives of at-home cocktail enthusiasts will lead to improvements in the industry on the professional level,” said Sarkis, 39. “New York City is such a great venue for that — the consumers are very savvy.”

We spoke to the Lower East Side resident about where he likes to go when he’s not behind the bar (or teaching).

The neighborhood go-to: Bar Goto

Bar Goto. For Best Of Manhattan bars
Photo Credit: Daniel Krieger

“I’m a huge fan of Kenta [Goto]. I’ve been to Japan several times and I really think he hit the cocktail vibe there. It reminds me of drinking in Japan. It’s not just the aesthetics of the room, but the aesthetics of the drinks. They’re done in a very simple, minimalist way, but with a lot of flavor.” (245 Eldridge St., bargoto.com)

Near the ‘office’: Mother’s Ruin

Mother's Ruin, a watering hole in NoLita in
Photo Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

“If I want kind of a more raucous experience, my other go-to bar would be Mother’s Ruin. It’s neighborhoody and friendly. It’s very high energy, very busy and loud. The opposite of Bar Goto.” (18 Spring St., mothersruinnyc.com)

The bartender hang: Holiday Cocktail Lounge

Holiday Cocktail Lounge. For Best Of Manhattan bars
Photo Credit: Holiday Cocktail Lounge

“Holiday Cocktail Lounge is a bartender hangout I like. I can’t go there and not run into a bunch of industry folk. They’re very welcoming, and everybody [industry people and bartenders] who doesn’t live in New York knows that’s the place where all the bartenders hang out.” (75 St. Mark’s Place, holidaycocktaillounge.nyc)

New favorite: Jupiter Disco

Jupiter Disco. Photo provided by Jupiter Disco. for
Photo Credit: Nathan McCarley-O'Neill

“My favorite drink to drink is usually something creative and fresh and new that some bartender wants to make for me. There’s a movement in my industry to move away from that — ‘Oh, I like shots and beers. I don’t want to make cocktails when I’m not working.’ I’m the opposite. I find inspiration from them. Al Sotack over at Jupiter Disco made me a series of cocktails that were just awesome. I’m also a huge nerd, and it’s got this very cool spaceport feel to it, loosely based on a ‘Star Wars’-style bar. It doesn’t feel like a bar dedicated to ‘Star Wars,’ it feels like a bar you would find in the ‘Star Wars’ universe. It’s a great blend of amazing music, really good drinks and really kind of a fun atmosphere. I really can’t understate the music there, they do a great job.” (1237 Flushing Ave., Bushwick, jupiterdisco.com)

The low-key spot: Attaboy

Attaboy, at 134 Eldridge St., in the Bowery,
Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

“If I want to have an amazing drink in a kind of, I don’t want to use the word somber, it’s a great atmosphere in there. You can have a conversation, you can hang out, you don’t have to worry about being overcrowded. Those guys kill, they just do an amazing job.” (134 Eldridge St., attaboycafe.us)

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