Peter Ruppert's Guide to Summer Drinking
Peter Ruppert honed his skills as a mixologist and bartender at some of New York’s most iconic establishments—Pastis and Lucien among them. He’s the guy with the colorful shirt and extensive knowledge of all things rum, including how to incorporate it into a recipe for au Poivre (peppercorn sauce). We recently caught up with Peter to talk New York bar culture, the art of mixing the perfect drink, and to get his recipe for Sex on the Peach, a twist on the classic summer cocktail.
Hey Peter, how are you, and what have you been up to so far today?
Peter Ruppert: Hi! I’m doing great! I actually just wrapped up a project I’m involved in with a rum called Don Papa. We have a vintage horse carriage we converted into a traveling bar and we are planning on taking it with us to The Hamptons for all of August.
Where’s home for you in New York?
PR: Home for me has been Greenpoint for almost ten years now.
And how about your home away from home—do you have a favorite local hangout during summer? What dishes/drinks do you order when you go?
PR: Sweet Water in Williamsburg has essentially been my living room/office for as far back as I can remember. It was the last place I ate before the quarantine and the first place I actually sat down for dinner after the lockdown was lifted. I have to say being able to sit down to maybe the best burger in New York and their frozen Pabloso has really saved me.
What are you drinking now that summer is here? Is it a trusty favorite or are you onto something new?
PR: When I’m preparing drinks and dinner for friends and family I’ve been moving between reliable classics while also definitely putting my blender to work. A late afternoon Negroni is an easy but reliable cocktail to enjoy before dinner. If it’s a day by the barbecue, I say break out the blender and make some banana daiquiris. I’ve also been making a fun twist on a Sex on the Beach I named Sex on the Peach made with Don Papa Rum, Peach Schnapps, pineapple and peach purée.
Cocktail hour at home has become part of our new existence. Any suggestions for setting the scene and adding that extra something to really make an impression?
PR: When setting up your home bar I think it’s important to really focus on what you like but also make sure you have a collection that accommodates guests you might have over. Keep some vermouth and bitters on the deck and don’t forget about the importance of a garnish. Some people could take personal offense to a martini that has no olive.
Any unusual ingredients you’ve been experimenting with lately that have been a bit of a hit?
PR: I think that the most unusual ingredient I’ve been experimenting with lately has been grappa. While it really is almost exclusively drunk on its own it pairs surprisingly well with citrus and blends nicely with teas or coffee.
Tell us about your secret au Poivre recipe made with rum—what is the origin of the recipe, and what makes it so remarkable?
PR: With my au Poivre recipe I typically start with a reduction of scallion and garlic with aged rum. Typically, you would use brandy but one day when I had a craving and had no Brandy in the house I ended up using Don Papa 10-Year aged rum and it gave the sauce a soft sweetness. Seems like it’s a hit because I’ve gotten plenty of requests for the recipe.
Now that businesses are starting to reopen and public life is resuming, where can we expect to find you mixing drinks this summer?
PR: Like I mentioned we now have a portable bar dubbed “The Rum Wagon” that we currently have parked in front of Dolly’s in Williamsburg. It will be on the move out to Montauk come August.
New York is celebrated for its bar culture but beyond the accolades, what do you think gives the local bar scene its appeal?
PR: New York is home to some of the most celebrated bars on the planet and these days there is no doubt it’s one of the things New Yorkers miss the most. I think the thing that gives these places the character are the people in the seats. It’s long been my opinion that at the end of the day a bar is just a room in a building, what makes it special is the company that it keeps inside it. Well now it’s the people out front, pretty much any neighborhood you stroll through has sectioned off a price of the street for locals to come out and mingle in. Obviously at a safe distance from each other.
Peter’s Sex on the Peach
1.5 oz Don Papa Rum
.5 oz peach schnapps
1 oz peach puree (made by blending equal parts peach jam and water)
.5 oz pineapple juice
.5 oz lime
Shake vigorously and pour over ice garnished with peach slice and pineapple leaves
WORDS Edwina Hagon
PHOTOGRAPHY Peter Ruppert