“The only way you can survive this business is if you’ve done it all yourself,” Albert Greenwood tells us, from behind his bar at Oak Haven Table and Bar in New Haven, Connecticut. He would know; he’s worked in restaurants and hotels his whole life, cycling his way up from dish pit to owner. “You have to have experienced it all.”
We’re at Oak Haven to try Albert’s newest Brockmans creation, The Bramblin’ Man, and already we know it’s going to be special. Albert lives, breathes, and eats this industry.
“I bartended all over New Haven until I needed to try living outside the state. So I spent four years in Miami, working at a restaurant that won a James Beard Award while I was there. After that, I knew I had the tools to open my own restaurant. So I came back to Connecticut.”
Albert speaks quickly, as if he has so much to say but not enough time to say it. His passion for this industry is palpable and refreshing, like when you walk into a room and know immediately that someone has just peeled an orange. He can set up his bar, reminisce, make a drink, and answer our questions with an enviable grace.
“When I came back to Connecticut, farm to table was nothing new. But the idea of farm to table for cocktails, of going and making relationships with farmers to use their products in drinks, that was something I didn’t see around here,” he says. He’s already shaken his drink and strained it into a rocks glass. Now he’s topping it off with prosecco and garnishing it with a sprig of tarragon. “So it wasn’t just about putting a $17 drink on the menu, it was always about using the freshest local ingredients to make cocktail masterpieces.”
If we had the time, we could sit and chat with him all day. But we have a drink to drink.
The tarragon is a lovely touch; its herbed, almost anise-like quality hits our noses just as we take the first sip. Brockmans is certainly berry-forward but not every drink we’ve tasted uses herbs to compliment the fruit. The tarragon gives way to lime, then to blackberry. The effervescence from the prosecco gives it a delightful lift. Our hunch was right; Albert knows what he’s talking about.
We often like to ask our bartenders for an anecdote about the best, or craziest thing they’ve ever heard behind a bar. “It’s not that funny but when I was bartending in Miami, one of the patrons said to me, ‘Albert, if you ever open up a bar of your own, let me know, I’ll invest.’ And he did! So yeah, that’s the best thing I ever heard at a bar!”
The Bramblin’ Man
by Albert Greenwood
- 1.5 oz / 45 ml Brockmans Gin
- .5 oz / 15 ml Giffard Crème de Mûre
- .5 oz / 15 ml lime juice
- 3 sprigs of tarragon
- Prosecco floater
- Add all ingredients to tin (except Prosecco).
- Shake vigourously, then double strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
- Float Prosecco over the top, and garnish with a fresh tarragon sprig.
If you’re in the area, head to Oak Haven and ask for Albert. You won’t regret it.