In the belly of Clayton Members Club & Hotel sits a stunning masterpiece of a cocktail getaway known as Five Nines. If you’ve been through the non-descript door and down the dimly lit hall to the most extraordinary revelation of a bar that we’ve seen in ages, then you know how truly special an experience this sultry escape is. So, who’s running things? None other than beverage manager and lead bartender Kyle Bobkowski at your service.
What’s the best drink we’ve never had?
I’m always on the hunt for interesting uses of everyday ingredients. A good drink doesn’t have to be exotic, just well balanced between sweetness, acidity, and texture. A rum drink that takes you to a beach, or a whiskey drink that makes you feel like you’re sitting fireside in a forest.
Is there a cocktail with a particularly interesting backstory that you appreciate?
The Old Fashioned is intriguing. It had two very similar origins between northeastern United States and New Orleans around the same time, both using a mixture of sugar, water, bitters, and spirit. The name came about because guests would come into a pub asking for ‘that old fashioned drink’ that bartenders used to make, and I guess the name stuck. It’s a drink every home bartender should be able to make as well.
How did you get into the industry?
I started in the restaurant and food industry after my freshman year of college, holding down a summer job slinging bagels to make a little spending money. I got hooked, and I’ve been through all sorts of concepts and styles of restaurants and bars ever since.
What’s the vibe at Five Nines?
Our vibe is a fine mix of sultry and comfortable with dark, rich color tones and candlelight. Our staff has the freedom to fit into the vibe with their own style, so they always bring an eclectic and fun energy to the bar and have a good time doing it.
What’s the funniest or strangest thing you’ve ever overheard from a patron while behind the bar?
Nothing’s coming to mind in recent memory but I have always enjoyed overhearing pickup lines that fall flat, or the guy that shows his bank balance to impress a date, or extricating myself from a squabble amongst a couple.
Is there a particular drink that you love to make?
It can end up being a good arm workout if I get caught making many of these, but lately I love to make a good traditional egg white sour whether that’s amaretto, whiskey, rum…really anything.
What’s the oddest drink order you’ve ever received?
A guest once asked for a stirred, savory gin cocktail, without using olives or brine, and that one stumped me briefly. We gave them some version of a Gibson with a splash of Genepy, but it took a minute to dial in what the guest was looking for.
Where do you get your inspiration?
In this industry, we’re all just standing on the shoulders of giants, many of whom are fortunately still around and practicing. I look either to older cocktails flipping through my books and imagine a new mix of flavors, or walk through the produce section at the grocery store and think of how to use a new ingredient or change how I’ve used an existing one.
What’s a summer cocktail that you recommend?
Last summer I was turned on to a Mint Julep with a mix of whiskey and Ricard. The mint is accentuated and the Ricard presents a nice tone of anise. This drink will drink cold as long as there’s liquid in the cup, perfect for the heat of summer.