Donned the “Charlie Trotter of cocktails” and “Spirits Guru,” Adam Seger is a nationally-acclaimed mixologist, certified culinary professional and a Court of Master Sommeliers Advanced Sommelier who has clocked time at the French Laundry, TRU, Nacional 27 and other notable institutions around the globe. He is the founder of the Chicago-based Hum Spirits Co., a botanical-infused liqueur, and soon-to-be author of Drink Like You Eat: 40 Cocktails from the Garden to the Glass and The Farm Bar.
FE&S: When and where did you have your first drink?
Adam Seger: My mom bought me a beer for my 18th birthday at The Hamburg Inn in Iowa City, her and my dad’s favorite watering hole in college. It was really cool.
FE&S: How did you learn to pair food with cocktails?
Adam Seger: I apply what I know about wine pairing. It uses all the same senses, balance and philosophies. Only difference is you can endlessly manipulate the cocktail to improve the pairing.
FE&S: What are some of the fundamentals you keep in your mind as you work?
Adam Seger: Use the best ingredients you can afford/obtain, have fun working with them and cook and mix with love.
FE&S: Where do you turn for inspiration?
Adam Seger: Chefs and eating out and traveling is where I get most of my ideas and inspiration. Jim Felling from WA Imports, Rodrick Markus from Rare Tea Cellar and Aaron Marsh from Melissa’s Worldwide Produce are constantly finding cool stuff for me.
FE&S: Do you collaborate with or raid the kitchen for interesting bar ingredients?
Adam Seger: Yes, yes and yes. Every restaurant I do a cocktail list for, the first thing I do is to go through the coolers, the pantry, the pastry chef mise-en-place, the spice rack and the prep lists.
FE&S: Do you feel customers are getting used to waiting longer for drinks?
Adam Seger: Sort of. Guests who watch the “show” at the bar do, but we need to be conscious of timing to not turn off guests with their first craft cocktail experience.
FE&S: What do you wish people knew about mixology?
Adam Seger: Like fine cooking “this stuff does not come out of a can.” There are efficiencies, but not shortcuts. Be patient, your properly made drink will be worth waiting for. Start with a glass of Champagne and some sparkling water to put you in the mood and pre-hydrate.
FE&S: Has the cocktail industry been affected by the sustainable “green” movement?
Adam Seger: Ridding the bar of high fructose corn syrup and the explosion of craft, fair-trade and organic spirits is amazing. Consumers are beginning to “drink like they eat” and recognize they can drink green deliciously.
Click here to read part one of the interview with Adam Seger.