Philip Khandehrish, The Setai Hotel
On this edition of Behind the Bar, we’re excited to highlight one of Miami’s leading bartenders, Mr. Philip Khandehrish of The Setai Hotel, who was recently named Miami’s most Imaginative Bartender by Bombay Sapphire. Philip won the title by creating lucrative libations like the “Empress of India” (name given to Queen Victoria who is on the label of Bombay Sapphire) among other impressive drinks. Philip is known for creating cocktails that use exquisite combinations and are equally as impressive in their aesthetics. Truthfully, any bartender who uses ingredients like avocado and black cardamom syrup (both present in the Empress of India) has rightfully earned his stripes behind the bar. Philip also received the title of one of Miami’s Top 10 Bartenders earlier this year by the Miami New Times, so the local community also agrees that he’s one of the best in town. We got a chance to chat with this celebrated bartender a few weeks ago and had a great time learning about his favorite hangover cure, his favorite thing about Miami, and his all-time favorite cocktail. Read on to learn more about Philip!
When did you know you wanted to be a bartender/mixologist?
I know I wanted to be a bartender when I first got into hospitality 15 years ago. I was behind the bar the day I turned 21. I realized I wanted to be in the craft industry when I started working at my current hotel 4 years ago. Learning how flavor profiles work and how certain ratios can help create endless amount of creative drinks really inspired me.
What are some of the staple items in your cocktail kit?
I have too many items in my kit, but you will always find a jigger, shaker and strainer. And almost everything in my kit has a color of gold.
If you weren’t a bartender, what would you be?
I do not want to even imagine that idea!
What is your all time favorite cocktail to prepare? To drink?
I like making many cocktails, but one of my favorites to make and drink is a Sazerac.
What are your favorite and least favorite drink trends right now?
My favorite drink trend is the incorporating different acids in cocktails — like tartaric, malic and citric. They give a bit more control in creating drinks, and we love control. My least favorite trends are the unnecessary flavoring of everything. There are some good flavored spirits, but when I see peanut butter and jelly vodka, it makes me a bit sad.
If you had to pick one spirit to best describe yourself, what would it be and why?
I would say I am like tequila. It’s complex and spicy, but doesn’t take itself too seriously to the point that it forgets the point of why it’s consumed!
What’ the most creative drink you’ve ever prepared?
One of the drinks that stands out in my mind was for a pairing dinner I did for a rum company. One of the drinks I used was a wooden stave, that I cryovacked with sauturn wine to soak into the wood, and infused it with the rum. It’s a different way of barrel-aging. I mixed the drink with honey and passion fruit.I turned the remaining wine from the cryovac (that also took in the oak) into an “air” using sucro and an immersion blender. I topped off the drink with the “air.”
What’s your go-to hangover remedy?
Greasy food and a shot of tequila.
You recently won the Bombay Sapphire “Most Imaginative Bartender Miami” Competition with your “Alluring Gem” cocktail. What was your inspiration for creating this cocktail?
I created a story behind Bombay Sapphire and used the botanicals infused within the gin — mainly Juniper, coriander and angelica, and created a shrub (vinegar-based syrup) to create what I called the Star Sapphire Shrub
Other than your own, what’s your favorite bar in Miami right now?
There are many favorites in Miami, that’s what makes this city great. There is the Broken Shaker, Regent, Lure Fishbar, Haven…
What is your favorite thing about living in Miami?
I have too many to pinpoint one thing. This city has an amazing laid-back luxury style. It enjoys luxury without taking itself too seriously. Plus, the diversity of the city allows many different flavors to enjoy. And the culinary and cocktail world is growing beautifully.
Mitch & Mel