Though bartender John Lermayer admits he isn’t good with computers, walking into an Apple store makes him feel like a better version of himself: smarter, younger, richer, cooler.
That feeling is what he’s trying to perfect at Sweet Liberty Drinks & Supply Company, 237-B 20th St., Miami Beach, the cocktail bar he co-owns and helped conceive in 2015.
“I want them to feel like whatever is going on outside in their lives can be forgotten while they’re inside [Sweet Liberty],” Lermayer says of patrons. “I want them to feel inspired. I want it to be a place that makes them feel cool.”
This service-driven culture and approachability has made Sweet Liberty a local favorite, and its creative cocktails recently earned it Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Award for Best New American Cocktail Bar.
The pride that regulars have shown in the recognition from the famed cocktail festival has gone beyond Lermayer’s expectations. But it’s no surprise when concoctions include the likes of the Baby Bison, the only flavored-vodka cocktail he has put on a menu in his bartending career.
Lermayer was inspired by a cocktail he had in London with apple juice and bison grass vodka—a product of eastern Europe, made from an aromatic herb. He enhanced the flavor profile with lemon juice for “a backbone,” cinnamon to add “a spice pop,” and Aperol, a rhubarb-flavored aperitif, to make the drink dry, balanced and refreshing.
“It’s one of my favorite drinks,” the bartender says. “People ask me all the time ‘What’s your favorite?’ and they’re always surprised when I choose a vodka cocktail.”
1.5 ounces ZU (Zubrowka) vodka
1.5 ounces apple juice
0.5 ounce lemon juice
0.5 ounce Aperol
Combine ingredients. Shake. Strain into Nick and Nora (stemmed cocktail) glass. Garnish with grated cinnamon and orange peel.