Q&A with Sean Snyder

Sean Snydere | Bouré | Oxford

by Kristina Domitrovich // photos by Lindsay Pace

Background

Sean Snyder has worked in the restaurant industry for the majority of his life, since he was 16. Originally from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he learned a few tricks of the trade bartending for two fine-dining bars.

When he came down to Oxford and started mixing drinks at Bouré about seven years ago, the college town proved to be “a lot more high-volume” for cocktail and drink orders. Back then, it was mostly Bouré’s signature pickle martinis. 

“We finally just revitalized our cocktail menu last year, and then COVID hit,” he said. “So we didn’t really get to showcase it for like six months.

Snyder’s full-time job is as a water mitigation specialist, and he works all day on Mondays at Bouré.

“Just because I can’t let the whole lifestyle go,” he said with a laugh.

The biggest industry change he’s seen is the attitude toward going out for drinks. He said, sure, depending upon what bar people are at, it can still be about just going out and getting hammered; but around Bouré, customers are looking for more.

“A big thing now is people don’t just want to drink for the sake of drinking. Like now people actually want to have something that they can’t have at home,” he said. “(And) men aren’t afraid to drink cocktails anymore – it’s not just Jack and Cokes and vodka tonics and beer, anymore. Men aren’t afraid to drink something with a little bit of fruit juice in there, which is fantastic because that kind of opened up a bunch of avenues for us.”

The Enzoni, inspired by the Dead Rabbit in New York City, has Campari, Wonderbird Gin, lemon juice and muddled grapes. Bouré’s Floral 75 has Cathead Honeysuckle Vodka, St. Germain, lemon, Creme de Violette and Prosecco.

Can customers expect any new drinks coming to Bourés?
A little more unique, a little more Mississippi, a little more local.

We’re going to look at a play on a margarita … Corpse reviver No. 2; it started in New Orleans, so we figured we’d just kind of follow suit and bring it into a Cajun-influence restaurant in Mississippi. Why not, right?

Biggest tips for folks at home?
Do your research into the technique. If you want to get kind of that gold-standard bar cocktail at home, do a little bit of research into why it’s like that. I could go all day into salinity and the ice break-down in a cocktail.

I would say if you’re going to make a drink at home, if it has fruit, if you’re making a cocktail that has any kind of citrus juice, shake the hell out of it. Taste it until it tastes good.
Make sure that if it’s a cold cocktail, make sure everything’s cold.

Buy an actual jigger. Measure your cocktails – don’t free pour. It looks cool behind a bar, but like cocktails (circa) 1980. It’s time to move forward. You’re not drinking just to get plastered anymore, you actually want to make something that tastes good.

What’s your favorite thing on the menu?

I love the Lane Train, I think it’s simple, but I also think it’s fairly complex at the same time. The Bristow’s bee’s knees is really good as well. I just like classic cocktails.

What’s your favorite ingredient or flavor profile?
Citrus-forward. I think it works with everything. You can pretty much put any kind of citrus note into anything.

I think bitter and sweet, it’s probably my close second though. Having bitter and sweet profiles going at the same time. It’s hard to beat that. If you can combine all three? Then it’s a home run.

What’s your least favorite?

Sweet and sour. If you make your own sweet and sour, that’s fine, but I think sweet and sour that comes out of a jug is probably one of the nastiest things. Blue curacao, but blue curacao’s kind of making a comeback – not for me, though.

Rose’s lime juice. Sweet and sour and Rose’s lime juice are neck and neck for my most hated ingredient.

When you’re at home, what do you drink?

If I’m not behind the bar, if I’m just at home, I’m just pouring a straight glass of bourbon.

Do you have a favorite bar book or resource?
‘Drink’ is probably one of my favorite publications. They’re based off of ‘Punch.’ They are phenomenal, they have really fantastic writers that kind of keep up with the trends and everything (and) actually get into the science. I like speaking to other bartenders.

‘Cocktail Chemistry’ is a good book.

 

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