Friday, May 23, 2008

Frank Caiafa of Peacock Alley

"I like to go seasonal with seasonal ingredients, and fresh if I can without a doubt. The other thing is we have to take into consideration is volume," said Frank Caifa, bar manager for the Waldorf=Astoria's Peacock Alley, when I interviewed him a little while back for this month's Featured Cocktail. "I try to shy away from muddled drinks because we get so busy. In the summer I’ll have one or two. I like to mix it up. I like to have some savory, classic, or my twists on the classics and some dessert style drinks because some of the guests that come here are the post-theater crowd."

Besides hotel guests, other crowds that visit the legendarily swanky Peacock Alley include people who come for events or before and after events as well as other non-hotel guests.

"I think people look for a different experience," Caifa said, citing an early lesson he learned in his almost three years of working with Peacock Alley. The hotel has a lot of European and English guests so Caifa decided to offer English beers, which didn't go over as well as he'd planned.

"The stumble we had was, I wanted people to feel at home and they wanted to try different stuff."

The result of that lesson is a mix of high-end spirits and housemade fresh ingredients. The Raspberry Beret features house-spiced Grand Havana Rum, Cointreau and raspberry puree. Other drinks include the SE Sidecar made with Evan Williams bourbon, Canton Ginger liqueur and fresh sour made by the staff. The Au Pear is made with Grey Goose Pear vodka, pear puree, sweet vermouth and a house-infused white raisin and vanilla bean grappa.

The menu also features luxury-priced cocktails. The Millionaire's Martini, made with Jean-Marc XO Vodka, and an olive stuffed with artisinal bleu cheese, is priced at $25, while the Grand Platinum Margarita, made with Patron Platinum tequila, Grand Marnier 150 (Cuvée Speciale Cent Cinquantenaire), and fresh lime juice, goes for $50.

When asked if customers who come to the Peacock Alley are looking for luxury drinks, Caiafa answered, "They do because I think people are here for special events. They might think, 'Wow I wonder what it would be like to have a $50 margaritas.'"

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Caiafa says that he likes to keep his ingredients fresh, which is a big deal now, especially as everyone is growing and buying local. In an interview he did with Behind the Burner (link here if you'd like to read it:, he talks about how it's very competitive with mixologists in New York City and beyond; do you think that using fresher ingredients and haute liquor is a big part of improving the cocktail? Or is it just the quality that Waldorf Astoria is trying to put across (especially with a $50 dollar margarita!)