Faces of the Industry: Leif Huckman
Photo credit: M. Alexander Weber
On Episode 57, Leif Huckman, Creative Director of The Hidden Pearl, joined us to talk about the Japanese influence at his bar and within cocktail culture in the City. The Hidden Pearl, a bright and airy speakeasy nestled in the back of Wanpaku, offers an elevated, transportive and stylish cocktail journey in search of tropical Japan. Leif is also the Principal Owner and Operator of Donna in South Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Leif spent a decade bartending, managing and consulting with high-profile clubs, bars and restaurants in New York City before pursuing his own vision with Donna in 2012. After holding the position of Head Bartender for Bette, Amy Sacco’s celebrity filled restaurant in Chelsea, he segued towards assisting in a handful of popular NYC restaurants, such as The Tasting Room and Freemans. During this time, the rebirth of pre-prohibition bartending was in full swing and allowed him the opportunity to apprentice with highly skilled bartenders, many trained directly by Sasha Petrosky of Milk & Honey (et al.). He joined opening teams for both Gold Bar and Socialista, bastions of highly skilled bartenders hidden by a glitzy nightclub facade. While working at Marlow & Sons, the darling farm to table cuisine in Williamsburg, he developed a philosophy for bringing sustainability and seasonality into his cocktail making. Donna was awarded ‘Best New Bar in New York’ by Paper Magazine in 2013, nominated for ‘Best Cocktail Bar in New York’ by Time Out NY in 2014, and winner of ‘Best Comeback Kid’ by Time Out NY 2016.
What neighborhood do you end up in the most for dinner and drinks?
Other than The Hidden Pearl and Donna, what’s your favorite bar in nyc right now?
Best drink you had recently?
I made a drink with Fino Sherry, Macvin du Jura, orange bitters, and a lemon twist.
What ingredient would you like to see being used more in cocktails?
I would love to see Shochu being used more. There are 48 different ingredients it can be technically be made of such as rice, barley, sweet potato. And the alcohol percentages are so different with each type.