Cointreau's Stilo Pimentel Talks The Art of Mixology
Last week, at a uniquely glamorous event led by Cointreau and Dannijo called The Art of La Soirée, celebrity Mixologist Stilo Pimentel talked to us about his career, history and passions. As we sipped on beautiful drink after beautiful drink under the orange trees and dimly-lit indoor garden, he spoke about fashion's relationship to mixology and the creativity that goes behind every drink we taste. The stylish ambiance of the spring/summer setting brought out an orange glow, pairing perfectly with the bright seasonal hues of the delicious Cointreau cocktails and with Stilo's motto of "presentation is key."
When did you decide you wanted to pursue a career as a Mixologist?
I was in fashion for seventeen years, I did everything from styling for magazines to working for Ralph Lauren, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ted Baker, all those good things. This (Mixology) kind of came about by accident. I got into it it was because I got picked up and mentored by all the right people in the industry, they were people that were (and are) really passionate about this and have been doing it their whole lives. From them I learned to respect all ingredients and to do my research for every ingredient I choose to use before creating a cocktail. From the beginning it just filled me up inside to be able to be so creative with something that you can offer to someone else so instantly. You can see their faces change when they receive something beautiful or great, and the again when they taste it. It’s amazing.
Did your career in fashion help you in your path as a Mixologist?
Absolutely, because it taught me to really understand that presentation goes a long way. There is something I call the "Mojito Effect" where I've created a beautiful looking Mojito and the server takes it across the floor and ten people end up asking “hey what's that?” because it looks so beautiful. So dressing up a cocktail is extremely important. A people, we pretty much eat with our eyes; if we see something beautiful it's going to make us more hungry, a gorgeous looking drink is going to make us appreciate drinking it.
What is your all-time favorite cocktail?
I can drink dark rum Daiquiris every day of my life, I love a good Daiquiri. The reason I love them so much is because they have three simple ingredients (rum lime and sugar) but they are so easily made the wrong way. It’s all about proportions, but when a Daiquiri is made right, it's amazing. I also love Old Fashions, again depending on my mood. I love Margaritas, especially equal-part Margaritas made with Tequila, Cointreau and lime, which is rare but it's just more of an adult margarita – not too sweet not too strong, it's just nice and even.
Do you remember the first cocktail you learned how to make?
Well, I’m Latino so the Mojito was definitely the very first drink I ever made – still love it!
People often confuse Bartending with Mixology, in your words, what is the true difference?
I have a friend who I met at the Standard Hotel when I was running the bar, that said “Stilo, the difference between a bartender and a mixologist is that the mixologist makes you happy you got the drink, a bartender makes you happy you walked into the bar.” It's a whole different story – a bartender really understands how to create an ambiance, he understand how to socialize and keep you in the moment to forget everything that happened outside of that bar. A mixologist knows how to create and prepare a killer cocktail in style.