Drink This Cocktail: The Ocelot

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The bartender at Tenpenny on why you should never order Jack Daniels.

Kenneth, Head Bartender

16 E 46th Street, New York

Tell me about what I’m drinking.
You’ve got two. Both are a take on a margarita. The Ocelet tends to be a little less spicy with more jalapeño flavor. The Land Lady has chili peppers, so it’s a little bit spicier.

I’ve been served some really spicy cocktails recently. Is "the hotter the better" a trend in the cocktail industry right now?
Spice gives your palate something that you’re not used to, because you’re heating up your mouth and cooling it down by drinking something cold.

Is that why it’s the perfect drink to drink this weekend?
It’s just refreshing. It has something for all your senses — you’ve got the sweet but also a little bit of the spicy.

What's a good drink for a couple on a first date?
Probably what you’re drinking right now, or maybe the Land Lady if you like something really spicy.

Is there something kind of embarrassing that people come in and ask for?
Not really, besides Jack Daniels.

Jack Daniels is embarrassing?
Let’s just say, I’m from Tennessee and I’m the bar manager, and we don’t carry it. We want people to get out of their box and try something they’re not used to trying.

What if someone came in and wanted something like a vodka Red Bull? Would you try to sway them towards a more delicious cocktail?
Of course you want to persuade them to try something that’s creative and less mainstream. The easiest way to do that is say we don’t carry Red Bull.

What do you like to drink when you’re not working?

Straight up?
Sometimes, but not usually. I like gin-based cocktails because I like to play with the herbalness. I stay away from vodkas; to me, they’re more for like shots and shooters.

What are your feelings about shots?
Well, I come from a place that was one-hundred percent shots all the time, so I love shots, but that’s got its own atmosphere.

Is there a classy way to do shots?
Yeah, a martini. That’s essentially a fancy shot dressed up in a nice glass with an olive.

What’s something someone can order that will impress you?
There are a lot of cocktails with funny names out there, like the Alabama Slammer. It’s in every cocktail book, but I still think, like, "Do you really want that, or are you ordering it for the name?" I prefer when people come in and give me the option to make something for them.

So I should walk in and say, "I want something cold with gin in it?"
Yes. It gives the bartender the freedom to create something based on the person, and it’s a challenge.

The Ocelot
1 oz. Aperol
1 oz. Lime & jalapeno cordial
1.5 oz. Herradura Silver tequila
Top with a splash of soda water

For the lime & jalapeno cordial, marinate the juice and rind of five limes with one or two chopped jalapenos and one cup of sugar.