Meet Your Mixologist: Antonio Peraza of db Bistro Moderne
Located in the luxurious J.W. Marriott Marquis, world-renowned chef Daniel Boulud’s first Miami outpost is a modern French bistro escape at the south of downtown. Stunning menu items match the high caliber of db Bistro Moderne, which hosts two private dining rooms for a most intimate experience. The refined wait staff is amiable and attentive, but there’s more to the db experience than hearty ratatouille and fluffy Madeleines.
At the entry point of db Bistro Moderne sits a chic and cozy lounge, with earth-toned couches and leather swivel chairs that surround an elegant sunken bar. Behind the lowered bar stands 23-year-old Antonio Peraza, a mixologist who seems wise beyond his years. The Venezuela native has lived in Miami for the latter part of his life, and there’s a quaint kindness about him, which may be why he’s helming the bar of one of the culinary industry’s most celebrated chefs.
Peraza, who has only been mixing cocktails for four years (a shocking detail to read after experiencing his skills), recalls his inquisitive nature as a child. “I was always a curious kid,” he says. “I loved watching the adults mixing their drinks, or watching a bartender at work. It was fascinating to me.”
Though he hasn’t traveled much, Peraza enjoys working with Caribbean flavors, which influence his tropical mixing style, while adding depth to his mixing habits. As a mixologist, Peraza hopes to keep evolving, the more he travels. His favorite ingredients to work with are passion fruit and guava, which, according to Peraza, “aren’t all that popular in the area yet.” And, like many mixologists in the business who haven’t much experience with molecular gastronomy, experimenting with liquid nitrogen is at the top of Peraza’s list. “It seems like a fun and innovative material to work with,” he says.
At db Bistro Moderne, the cocktail program involves a balance of new and old techniques, a structure Peraza falls right in line with. “It actually reflects me really well,” he admits.
When he gets down to whipping up some of db’s featured favorites, time is lost, and a young Peraza’s craft seems effortless, as if he’s practiced filling these dazzling glasses a thousand times. First, he serves up a gorgeous White Cosmopolitan, a milky hue of white cranberry juice, fresh lime juice and vodka, with a fabulous custom-made ice cube with a purple Phalaenopsis orchid frozen in its center. The concoction is tangy and fresh, and dangerously easy to slug down.
Another unique offering is the New Fashioned, a thick, saccharine mix of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Punt E Mes and Maple Peach Bitters, buttery and crafted for sipping. Peraza’s two new summer favorites include the Summer Soiree, a rum-and-guava-based pour, and the Watermelon Martini, a light, herby shake made from house-squeezed watermelon juice, gin and thyme – well balanced and not overly sweet.
But, the best part about hanging barside with Peraza happens Monday through Friday from 5 pm to 8 pm for db’s fabulous happy hour, where his fancy creations are half-off, and go swimmingly with sharing plates and an equally sophisticated back-and-forth with the old soul manning the marble bar top.
Photos by Tracy Block