Located in the East Village at 105 First Avenue, New York, New York, is the hip Mister Paradise bar, serving up exceptional cocktails that infuse flavors and techniques that are far from ordinary.
An interview with Mister Paradise owner, Will Wyatt
I had a great time recently chatting with Will Wyatt, owner and beverage director of New York City’s Mister Paradise. A great bar needs more than excellent drinks – it needs personality, and after meeting Will over the phone, it’s clear that he, along with his innovative and friendly staff, brings plenty of that to the table.
Mister Paradise is known for some seriously high-end cocktails. However, Will prefers the word “unique.” This guy is humble, so make no mistakes, Mister Paradise is a world-class bar and you will leave in awe of whatever they serve you. They are concocting drinks in the East Village that most of us would never come up with, even on our most creative days. I feel like a genius when I perfect a Cosmo. Pretty sure I need to up my game.
Mister Paradise’s atmosphere
From the moment you walk into Mister Paradise, you’re greeted with elegance, thanks to the cool Art Deco design, yet at the same time; there’s a casual vibe that let’s you know you’re in for an evening of relaxation and laughter. Don’t let the sophisticated interior fool you. Within all of the stylish art deco, quirky elements, including a red room inspired by Clockwork Orange, are placed throughout the design as well to remind customers that they can enjoy world-class cocktails in a sexy atmosphere without feeling stuffy.
Who comes up with such creative cocktails?
These days, the entire team at Mister paradise is enjoying coming up with new creations together. They all keep an open mind and work on each one until it’s perfected. Will mentions that it’s about taking a fantastic idea and balancing it so that in the end, you have something drinkable. For example, one of the new bartenders had an idea to use yogurt, anise, and mint together. As a team, they brainstormed and worked at it until it was perfected into an amazing cocktail.
Another time, a team member had a dessert at another restaurant that contained flavors of smoked grapefruit and buttered popcorn, and using that inspiration, a new cocktail with gin, elderflower, lemon, and Scotch was born. As Will says, “Most inspiration comes from dishes.”
The most popular cocktails at Mister Paradise
When I asked Will what he finds to be the most popular cocktail at Mister Paradise, he said there is one that is constantly ordered, called “The Party Lobster,” and it’s been with the bar since the beginning. The funny thing is that with all the cocktails they make, this one is one of the simplest. It contains Blanco Tequila, Mezcal, Campari, compressed watermelon, lime, and habanero. It’s like a spicy margarita with more complexity.
Another cocktail that sees a lot of action at Mister Paradise is the Espresso Martini, a constant favorite for those who love coffee and cocktails.
Will also pointed out that whiskey cocktails are recently taking a backseat to new ideas. The old-fashioned is still on plenty of menus, but perhaps its reign of the cocktail is slowing down. He says, “I used to always get requests for old-fashioneds and Manhattans, and people used to be really super brand specific about the whiskeys. They’d get upset if we didn’t have Bulleit Whiskey, but we seem to have completely veered away from that. Now people are specific about their gins, tequilas, and vodkas.”
One of the most unique types of cocktails
I felt bad asking Will what the most unique drink on the menu is because they have so many. He graciously responded, though, with milk punches. He says, “We always have a milk punch on the menu. First, they’re delicious when you know what you’re doing, and second, they are good for when the bar is wildly busy. All the effort in making a milk punch takes place beforehand.” Mister Paradise uses different techniques to perfect the milk punch and make each new variation unique, including the use of different fats and fibers to clarify the drink.
Three current milk punches are the Travolta (Bacardí Superior, Rhum JM Blanc, Fino Sherry, Pineapple, Coconut Dulce de Leche, Lime, Milk), the Cage (El Gobernador Pisco, Community Vodka, Empirical Soka, Batavia Arrack, Strawberry, Chicha Morada, Lime, Lemon, Milk), and the Face/Off, which is a layered serve of the two.
Take a shot
You will find some of the most upscale cocktails you’ll ever enjoy at Mister Paradise, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get crazy and throw back a shot now and then. They make it fun with shots like the Good Idea or the Bad Idea. The Good Idea uses Yellow Chartreuse and Cynar for a milder, bittersweet shot, and the Bad Idea uses Fernet Branca and Green Chartreuse. The Bad Idea is cleverly $1 more on the menu because a bad idea will usually cost you.
But wait…there’s food
Mister Paradise won’t leave you hanging when you’re enjoying cocktails and need a snack. The menu is upscale bar food and absolutely delicious. It’s clear that just as much thought goes into the food as the cocktails. How about some oysters watermelon habanero mignonette followed by good old french fries (with a fancy dipping sauce, of course)? You could absolutely just enjoy the food if you aren’t drinking that night.
In conclusion, listening to what goes into an excellent milk punch, a clarified cocktail, and other unique cocktails is overwhelming (in a good way). It makes me want to try all of them, yet hope I never have to make one myself. He mentions spirits, liqueurs, and foods I’ve never heard of. Then there’s the lingo, such as freezing liquids, suspended particles, stewing, and compressing. If I learned anything, it’s that a mixologist is creative, brave, and lives in a world of knowledge that I know nothing about. I’m just thankful there are places like Mister Paradise, where for at least one evening, I can sit in a sophisticated, fun, cozy bar and sip the most exotic cocktail while I forget about the busyness of life.