Behind the Bar: Eric Carfagnini of Culinary Dropout
It's no wonder Eric Carfagnini enjoys bartending at Culinary Dropout. Just shy of three months old, the restaurant/bar prides itself on taking traditional cocktails and serving them up with a twist. With house-made ingredients like ginger agave syrup and a Guinness reduction, manning the bar offers up the opportunity to truly let your creativity soar.
For 25-year-old Carfagnini, bartending is partly a family affair -- his brother's a bartender and liquor distributor. Carfagnini's been at it for six years, getting his start as a bar back in Tucson and working his way up.
With a taste for ginger and dive bars, the up-and-coming mixologist likes trying out new concoctions and staying ahead of bartending trends.
Favorite drink to make? If I could make any drink over and over it'd be the Moscow Mule. It consists of ginger, lime and Tito's vodka, and we serve it with ginger candy. I'm a big ginger guy, so I like it. That and it's pretty simple to make. Our cocktail list here is pretty extensive and thought out, they're definitely handcrafted cocktails, so they take some time to make.
Favorite drink to drink? The El Matador. It's got ginger, orange bitters, lemon Hornitos Anejo tequila.
What's the one bartending tool you can't live without? My wine key. I used to have a bar key, but we have to clean the bar every night so I use this now to help keep clean. When I pop bottles I can throw away the tops easier. Yeah, I can't live without this.
What did you want to be when you grew up? I still don't know what I want to be. According to my mom, I switched about seven times. I think I wanted to be a geologist, lawyer, comedian, and teacher. If I could pick anything, I'd be a soccer player overseas.
When you're not bartending what are you doing? I have a day job. I work for a government contracting firm. Yeah, I never get a day off.
Do you have a hangover cure? The best advice I can give anyone is to stick to one alcohol and avoid sweets. It works.
When you create drinks, what inspires you? Inspiration comes from trying to stay ahead of the curve. Trying to find alcohols you don't see a lot of. Like cachaça, it's coming back and a lot of bars nowadays have a cachaça-based drink, your most popular one is going to be a Caipirinha, but things like that. Different worlds, different inspirations. Trying to take something from that and craft something into your own.
What kind of bars do you normally like? I like dive bars. I like the Lost Leaf, the Roosevelt, it just depends on what kind of mood I'm in. My favorite bar ever is Danny's Baboquivari in Tucson. It's just a dive; good tunes and if you go there with friends it's a good time.