Extra Virgin’s Alberto Santoro preps for Paris of the Plains

  • Santoro neatly puts together gin and grapefruit juice in this cocktail.

In what was billed as a five-star restaurant in Normandy, France, I once looked a waiter in the face and said, “Plus fort fromage.” Asking a Frenchman to bring me the strongest cheese available was a questionable decision, and I have rarely shown similar audacity since.

So I’m a bit measured when I ask Alberto Santoro — most people just call him Berto — to choose a cocktail for me. It’s the beginning of a Thursday-evening happy hour at Extra Virgin, and the barman known for his Old Overholt Manhattans feels me out.

“What do you like?” Santoro asks.

I tell him I like it all. I want him to make me the drink he was thinking about when I walked up. Santoro nods.

“I got it,” he says. He puts fresh strawberries in the bottom of a pint glass.

Categories: Dining, Food & Drink