Merino is a master mixologist, heading into the kitchen to work on his signature cocktails, drinks that are a “fusion of kitchen and bar”, a style that inspired his name, “ The Liquid Chef.” The drinks showcase flavors and spirits from all over the world and often incorporate unusual ingredients to stimulate all of the senses. And though Merino is most known for being behind the bar, he started in the kitchen.
While growing up in central Mexico, Merino began cooking at the age of 10 and his early experiences instilled an early love for “culinary mestizaje,” or blending diverse flavors. When he moved to New York at the age of 16, Merino worked his way up from bartender to beverage manager at Roth’s Westside Steakhouse, while finishing high school and studying English and graphic design.
At Roth’s, Merino put together his first ever wine and cocktail list, a list that won an award of excellence from Wine Spectator. Shortly after, Merino was officially initiated into the Court of Master Sommeliers.
Then in 2005, Merino won first place in the International Bar Show with his ‘Coming Up Roses’ cocktail, a mix of lime, rose petals, rose syrup, and champagne. This vaulted him into the realm of master mixologist and, a year later, Merino went on to create The Liquid Chef, Inc., a cocktail consulting company that also sells his first line of products, Dainzu, syrups and salts that are 100 percent natural. Natural brand extension saw the opening of New York's Liquid Lab, a space where Merino experiments with more than 3,100 individual labels, spices, oils, extracts, aromas and herbs.
Next, Merino talks about how he landed in the mixology business, his favorite flavors, and what you should be stocking your bar with.