Where Maui - - Where Now -

He doesn’t like call­ing him­self a “mixol­o­gist,” pre­fer­ring bar­tender in­stead. And for the past 16 years, Scon­fienza has helped de­velop the cock­tail pro­gram at The Westin Maui Re­sort & Spa.

Q: Do you see your­self as a mixol­o­gist?

That’s a tough ques­tion be­cause to me all mixol­o­gists are bar­tenders. The ma­jor dif­fer­ence is a mixol­o­gist will take a lit­tle more care and a lot more thought in craft­ing a cock­tail.

Q: How much has changed in the bev­er­age in­dus­try from the time when you started?

A lot. Ten years ago, you had lemon and lime wedges, and cher­ries and mint as part of your bar stock. To­day, we have ac­cess to so many ingredients—from Kula straw­ber­ries to Maui Gold pineap­ples—which were once in­tended for culi­nary use. Be­fore I used to have to make my own purees and re­duc­tions at home or I’d have to come in early and use the kitchen; now I can read­ily have these de­liv­ered to me.

Q: Do you like what you’re see­ing in the in­dus­try?

Ab­so­lutely. I like the fact that the in­dus­try is mov­ing to­wards be­ing a craft again. There’s a lot more passion and thought in de­sign­ing a drink. The craft cock­tail has taken off and the cre­ativ­ity has been mag­ni­fied.

Q: What are some of the pre­vail­ing trends?

In­cor­po­rat­ing ex­otic bit­ters is hot right now. I’m in­cor­po­rat­ing Sriracha, BBQ and Thai bit­ters into some of my cock­tails. Also trend­ing are spir­its that are lower in al­co­hol vol­ume and shrubs (vine­gar­based syrups).

Q: What do you like most about be­ing a mixol­o­gist?

It’s a cre­ative out­let for me. I like to think out­side of the glass. You can get a great cock­tail in New York and San Fran­cisco. But I can make the same cock­tail here with an is­land twist. For ex­am­ple, our caipirinha in­cludes a burnt sug­ar­cane syrup with mud­dled pineap­ple. You won’t find that any­where else ex­cept here.

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