Name: Aaron Anthony DeFeo
Title: Owner/Bar Director
Find me mixing drinks at Little Rituals almost any day of the week but Mondays are my Fundays.
Favorite drink to make: I’m pretty much in love with the Spritz, any incarnation with any aperitivo. I love making them for people because it’s usually something they haven’t had, or they’ve only had bad versions. And it goes without saying I love making them for myself.
I’d most like to mix a drink for any of my mentors, or people like Dale DeGroff, Tony Abou-Ganim, Bobby Gleason… but in the end, I’m just excited to make drinks for people who are excited about them.
If I could have one superpower while working behind the bar, it’d be Jedi Mind Trick. Is that a superpower? [waves hand] “Trust me, you want vermouth in that martini.”
If I were a flavor I’d be passionfruit and grapefruit, both have such complex flavors balanced with acidity.
My biggest bartending fail: Dropping things, probably on a daily basis. I actually have pretty good hand-eye coordination but without fail I’ll execute a complicated cocktail, only to knock it over when adding a straw or garnish.
My top drink and food to recommend to guests: At Little Rituals, all the cocktails are my babies. But I think a winning combination is the Daiqurry and the Pho French Dip. Lots of crazy spices and savory umami. But I think the Boilermaker featuring Modern Times Fruitlands Passionfruit Gose and our house passionfruit mezcal liqueur is pretty darn good just by itself.
When I’m not working, I enjoy sipping Gin Rickeys. I like to call myself the unofficial Gin Rickey Ambassador of the Southwest. It’s the only spirit I can’t keep in stock at my house.
My favorite place in town for drinks is Gracie’s Tax Bar when I’m feeling super casual. When I’m in a divey mood, Bikini Lounge. When I want to order just about anything, Bitter & Twisted. When I want some great bites as well, The Brickyard or Rum Bar at the Breadfruit. When I want to get away from it all, Undertow. Honestly there are about fifteen other places I would mention too, but there just isn’t room.