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A Santé "Rising Star:" Connor Burke, Beverage Director, The David Burke Group

Beverage Director Connor Burke has reached, what many would deem, an enviable point in his career. From bartender at David Burke Townhouse in New York, to overseer of the David Burke Group beverage program in only a few years, the 26-year-old is enjoying discovering new places, new  tastes –especially new craft beers – and playing a key role in the expansion of the Burke restaurant dynasty.


Beginning with bartending was all part of the plan, as it was the only position that his father, David Burke had not held within his own restaurants. He quickly fell in love with the one-on-one rapport that he held with guests, as well as the unique creativity that the position demands.  With a recent move to Aspen, Colorado, in the advent of the Burke Group’s new David Burke Kitchen, Connor is striking out on his own, ready to acquaint himself with West Coast flavors and indigenous ingredients.


“I like to try new things all the time, especially when I can find something new on draft,” says Burke. “Moving to the other side of the country has been great for that.”  Right now his favorites include, Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA from San Francisco, Allagash White from Portland Maine, and Lagunitas Lil Sumptin, Sumptin from Pentaluma CA,  “which is a great hoppy pale wheat ale.”

 

David Burke restaurants aim to offer the finest quality in wines and spirits, often delving into small-batch, or artisan products to meet the standard. Connor pairs his favorite craft beers with Executive Chef Matt O'Neill’s creative, locally sourced menu. “The Lamb Shank & Artichoke with black olive and tomato couscous paired with either our Speakeasy Double Daddy, Avery Maharaja or Sierra Nevada Torpedo,” says Burke. “Another good pairing would be Elk Carpaccio served with an herb ash crust, arugula, chips and mushroom paired with one our hefeweizens or American wheat ales such as the Avery White Rascal, Lagunitas Lil Sumptin' Sumptin', or Mission Hefeweizen.”

 

His Black Cherry Sling, which calls for Breckenridge Bourbon, one of the David Burke Group’s preferred bourbons, is an example of Burke’s confidence and restraint. “We found that keeping a drink simple with a good flavor and then adding a nutmeg garnish created a great tasting cocktail that did not try and hide the bourbon with a bunch of strong contradicting flavors, Burke explains. “Breckenridge puts a lot of effort in to make bourbon a specific way and we don’t want to try and hide that.”

 

Burke anticipates the launch of the Burke Group’s nightlife concept Huckleberry Hall, due to open in Aspen this spring. He says that he is looking forward to his future in Aspen, as a chance to expand his horizons and bring experience to an already bright career.

 

 

BLACK CHERRY SLING
¾ oz. cane-sugar simple syrup (1:1 water to cane sugar)
¾ oz. freshly squeezed lime juice
1½ oz. Breckenridge bourbon (or Four Roses bourbon)
3 dashes Fee Brothers cherry bitters
1 oz. Boylans black cherry soda (or other Cherry Soda made with Cane Sugar)

 

Method: 
1. Place first four ingredients in a mixing tin.
2. Add large ice cubes and shake vigorously.
3. Double strain into the tumbler over fresh ice, then add soda. Tumble roll back and forth once and taste for balance.
4. Serve drink in a rocks class and garnish with ground nutmeg and three dried cherries, rehydrated and skewered.

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