When Micah Olson, head mixologist and co-owner at Crudo, is not behind the counter mixing out-of-this-world cocktail creations, you can find him swinging a golf club, shopping for top-notch whiskey or noshing on the Valley’s eclectic restaurant offerings.
What are your current favorite cocktail ingredients?
Sun Liquor Aged Rum, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Dolin Genepy and always Peychaud’s Bitters
Do these ingredients tend to make a drink best consumed on its own, or paired with, say, a specific cheese or dish?
I think there is a perfect pairing for everything.
Who is your favorite type of customer?
I love the adventurous drinker because I like to use a lot of lesser-known ingredients and that scares some people. The adventurous drinker is willing and excited to try something new and usually likes it too.
What are some other places in the Valley where mixed drinks are done exceptionally well?
The Clever Koi, LON’s at the Hermosa, Bitter & Twisted, The Parlor Pizzeria, Kazimierz World Wine Bar, Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails, Cowboy Ciao, Citizen Public House and The Gladly—we have so many talented bartenders it’s hard to narrow it down, but these are the ones you will find me at the most often.
What is one of the most innovative and creative drinks you have ever tasted/or made?
Elad Zvi from Broken Shaker in Miami is probably my favorite bartender in the country. The first time I met him he made me a drink call the Mexican Hot Dog. I have no idea what was actually in it—there was no hot dog—but it tasted like what you think a Mexican hot dog would taste like. It seems weird, but it somehow worked and I couldn’t stop drinking them.
If you weren’t a mixologist, what would you be doing?
I would most likely still be a sommelier somewhere or selling wine for a distributor. Something wine-related for sure. What can I say? I like working with alcohol.
What’s the most complicated or scientific tool you use in drink preparation at Crudo, and what’s an inexpensive/MacGyver adaptation for novice home cocktailers?
Either my Breville juicer or the Vitamix. Neither of these is really that fancy, but I couldn’t live without them at Crudo. I use the Vitamix for making homemade syrups and the Breville to juice all sorts of things for the menu. For the home bartender, I suggest the Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer for $100 (instead of the $400 for the Breville). It doesn’t have adjustable speeds but will juice most fruits and vegetables with ease. I love the Vitamix but, if you’re not using it all the time, most blenders over $50 should work fine. If you’re going to be blending a lot of frozen drinks, buy a nice blender with some power or you might blow out your motor pretty quickly.
What’s your coolest shortcut or ingredient substation for an impressive drink without access to your professional stash?
People can make amazing drinks at home with just a couple ingredients: Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters. These can turn a normal cocktail into something dynamic and they last awhile since you only use a few dashes at a time. Think of them like cooking with salt and pepper—they bring out flavor and balance as well as meld flavors together.
Follow in the footsteps of Micah Olson through his “Perfect Day” itinerary.