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.