The East Greenwich Main Street stapl, Besos Kitchen and Cocktails has just revived its dining and drink menus. We spoke with Josh Nault, who kicks up cocktails behind the bar, about warm winter drinks, perfect food pairings and advice for newbie bartenders.
I hear you’ve been getting creative behind the bar.
The best part of bartending at Besos is having the opportunity to come up with new ideas and being allowed the ability to execute those ideas. That is really how our cocktail program has been able to grow. Some of the bartenders and staff agreed that our old cocktail menu needed to be improved to match the level of food our chefs were preparing, and ownership helped to facilitate that move.
Tell me about some of those improvements.
We are now taking a more back-to-basics approach toward our cocktails and really moving more towards mixology. We’ve been able to reintroduce pre-prohibition style cocktail mixers and concentrates with new trending flavor profiles and even some other flavor combinations that might make you curious. We are constantly trying to redefine our own style of “Eclectic American.”
What’s a cocktail original to Besos that we must try?
Since the beginning of our Cocktail Book project we have amassed 83 house specialty cocktail recipes. The list grows constantly. Our selection includes seven different Bloody Marys and many play on classic cocktails as well as new combinations, infusions and presentations that you probably haven’t seen before. Ask for the Drink Book.
Besos means kisses in Spanish. Do you have any Spanish cocktails on the menu?
While Besos does mean kisses in Spanish, we don’t consider ourselves to be a Spanish restaurant. We do, however, have some Latin and Spanish-inspired cocktails such as the Colombian Espresso Martini and the Chapo Guzman’s Revenge. We also have many renditions of the mojito and margarita using any combination of our seven house-made flavored simple syrups, eight house-made shrubs, or any of our many infused liquors.
What is your signature cocktail?
I would say I specialize in anything weird. From balsamic drinks to carrot vodkas and beet colored syrups, I really love to wow people. Anything that gets people on the other side of the bar asking, “What was that?” Lately I would say I really enjoy making the Accidentally on Purpose, which is a reposado tequila and amaro based cocktail.
Any great winter cocktails we should try?
You have to try either the Quahog Grog or our Spiced Hot Toddy, which is best enjoyed outside by the fire pit. But for something a little more appropriate for dinner I would suggest the Yule Love it, which is a cranberry and white rum based cocktail.
What is your favorite wine/food pairing for winter?
We have a fantastic wine list at Besos thanks to our in-house wine geek, Derek. He turned me on to a Spanish Priorat wine called Val Llach Embruix. It pairs fantastically with our New York Strip Crostini small plate.
If you’re not in the mood for a cocktail what else is available?
We do have a teetotaler’s selection at Besos, which currently has five items on it. We are also making our very own hot-spiced apple cider all winter, which can be served with or without alcohol.
What do you do when you’re not behind the bar?
I am currently finishing up my undergraduate degree in Political Science at Rhode Island College and I have ambitions of attending law school by the fall of 2016.
What is your advice to bartenders just starting out?
The customer doesn’t always know what they want. Confidence goes a long way toward success.
Besos Kitchen and Cocktails
378 Main Street East Greenwich