For veteran bartender Bobby Weissleder, his trade is simple.
During most of his adult life, the Sag Harbor resident has made a living by tending bar, deftly crafting unique and crowd-pleasing cocktails, satisfying even the finickiest of patrons.
“I just really like making drinks,” he smiles. “And obviously, it’s always about making the guest happy.”
He’s been behind the stick at Almond in Bridgehampton now for almost six years, creating signature cocktails tailored toward his faithful crowd. “The idea is to use what we can get locally and ultimately to use what’s in season,” he says, sharing the happily ubiquitous mantra of “localism” so many establishments embrace and practice here on the East End.
He finishes topping off a beer for one guest, clears the empties for another, and then scurries away, quickly and quietly, to the other end of the 12-seat bar he helms as two more of his regulars get situated in their seats and he gets going on their usual martinis before they’ve removed their coats.
Weissleder’s presence at Almond is paramount, with guests almost acting nervous if they don’t see him immediately upon their arrival. It’s his familiar and warm “welcome home” mentality that keeps patrons coming back to perch at his bar. The questions of “What wine did you give me last time?” or “What was that drink called that you made for me?” are expertly answered without even a hint of delay. He’s the type that’ll have your drink ready at your seat before you even set foot in the building. His timing is impeccable and he usually knows what you want before you do.
“He’s just the best,” says a neighboring bar patron. “Even my water glass is never empty.”
Originally hailing from south Florida, Weissleder’s called the Hamptons home for over a decade, waiting tables and tending bar at several South Fork favorites like Old Stove Pub, The American Hotel and the former Red Stix in Water Mill. He’s not afraid of being busy, recalling a night years ago at Red Stix where he single-handedly churned out over a thousand drinks during a shift.
“I think my record is 1,200,” he says nonchalantly.
Whether he’s perfecting summertime faves like a spicy margarita (where he muddles fresh jalapenos for each one, a la minute) or offering modern spins on classics, like the “Old School,” a drink he debuted a couple years ago as his personal take on an old fashioned, Weissleder’s style is smooth, calm, cool and collected. He’s a delightful hybrid of everything you could ever want from someone serving you drinks, with the speed of a Miami nightclub barkeep, the efficiency of a boilermaker bartender, and the taste of a ritzy Manhattan mixologist. And he always has time to talk, treating each one of his guests promptly and carefully.
After “not loving” a taste of wine offered by Weissleder to one of his guests before she committed to a whole glass, he said sweetly, “No problem! Let’s find something you’ll love.”
Presently, his specialty cocktail lineup features drinks that are now mainstays at Almond, thanks to his consistent and meticulous efforts, such as the “Fat Farmer,” where Weissleder uses a fat-washing infusion technique. The result is an unctuous, super dirty, super smooth vodka martini garnished with blue cheese stuffed olives. Others include the “H.C.T,” his riff on a hot cider toddy, made with apples from Water Mill’s Milk Pail and Almond’s house Negroni, that’s first aged in American oak barrels for eight weeks then served over a large ice cube with an orange twist.
Ever creative and ever resourceful, Weissleder is not one to shy away from using unusual ingredients that most bartenders wouldn’t look twice at. Case in point is the “Co-Co Nutz,” a cocktail conjured by Weissleder after a few bottles of Bacardi Coquito fell into his lap. The drink is sort of tropical, sort of creamy, sort of hazelnut-ty, calling to mind a similar flavor profile of a Mai Tai but without the hassle of using crushed ice and cocktail umbrellas. Weissleder’s “Co-Co Nutz” is minimal, sleek and delectable as a playful liquid dessert and a welcome break from the usual Espresso Martinis or Irish Coffees.
For those looking for a simple, no frills cocktail situation, fear not for Weissleder’s got you covered. Aside from the amply stocked bar, Almond also offers strictly New York-based craft beers on tap, with most locally sourced from the South and North Forks. Red, white and rose wines are carefully curated by general manager Harryson Gallegos, offering French, Italian, domestic and local Long Island producers.
As to Weissleder’s personal drink of choice, he keeps things classic and simple: two fingers of Jameson over a large ice cube and a Bud Light.
Can’t get more welcoming, or effortless, than that.
- 2 oz Disaronno Amaretto
- 1 1/2 oz Bacardi Coquito coconut-flavored rum
- 1/2 oz Diplomatico spiced rum
- 1/4 oz fresh lemon juice