This is the story of how an accident turned someone’s entire life around.
We’re back on Long Island, because, as we’ve already learned, not all of the good gin drinking happens in New York City alone. Today we’re at Mission Taco, a quirky, colour-splashed Mexican restaurant and cocktail bar in the quite-hip town of Huntington, New York.
“I’m an island boy,” Vinny Iovino, the young, tattoo-spotted bar manager, tells us, revealing a smile. “It’s strange, everyone leaves, but I never did.”
Instead, Vinny has tended bar across the Island, getting his start at a “dumpy, dumpy place” in a town nearby.
“The place was a wreck, no one ever trained me, no one ever cared. Someone would ask me for something and I would have no idea what they were talking about. I was surrounded by people looking like an idiot.”
From there, Vinny decided to take it upon himself to learn the trade, spending a lot of his own money and time on books, tools, and booze.
Then, he got into a motorcycle accident.
A bad one.
Two weeks before he was going to take off on a cross-country motorcycle trip.
“I destroyed my leg. I had nothing to do, I didn’t work for almost a year and a half.”
But rather than waste away, Vinny decided to make the best of his condition. He had just sold his car, so he lived off that, and bought every cocktail book on the shelf.
“I spent almost everything I had on tools, books, liquor, sometimes just to make something once. I would read about a drink and I didn’t know what one thing was, so I’d buy it. Oh, I have to sous vide something? I had no idea what that was. So I bought a crockpot and a food saver. Then I bought a dehydrator, and then people started gifting me things because they realised something was wrong with me.” He laughs. He looks back on this major part of his life with whimsy–gratitude, even–and not regret.
“The reason it happened was because I thought it couldn’t. It gave me a hard hit of reality, and it helped me grow up a lot.”
Vinny gets back to making us his Brockmans creation, the “Nothing But a ‘Gin-Thang.’” To the Brockmans he adds a strawberry basil shrub, some lemon juice, and an egg white, something normal to some of us but still polarising for others, according to Vinny.
“Long Island is so different from the City, it’s difficult to do this”—he waves his arms around to indicate the bar around him—“to a point where it’s cool, but it’s still making money. I’m trying to keep it approachable. I’ll make it cool-ish, but still, people aren’t coming in here to try a spirit they can’t pronounce.”
Thankfully, Brockmans is quite easy to pronounce, and even easier, as we know, to sip. This makes it perfect for a place like Mission Taco, a place attempting the hip, modern, and edgy without turning off the suburban set. To Vinny, Brockmans is a no-brainer.
“I love gin, but this is so different. I could throw it in club soda, walk outside, and enjoy myself!”
Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.
Nothing but a “Gin-Thang”
by Vinny Iovino
- 1.75 oz/ 50 ml Brockmans Gin
- .75 oz/ 20 ml strawberry-basil shrub
- .5 oz/15 ml lemon juice
- 1 egg white
- black pepper-infused Green Chartreuse
- Add all ingredients, except for the infused Chartreuse, into a shaker.
- Dry shake (without ice) vigourously for 10 seconds.
- Add ice, and shake, vigourously, again, until the shaker is cold (about 8-10 seconds).
- Double-strain into a chilled coupe, and garnish with a spray or two of black pepper-infused Green Chartreuse.