Behind the ’Chata

We sat down with Frank Kurt Maldonado of NYC’s Employees Only, to chat about his work and his cocktail for September’s Rum Away With Me Box, the ’Chata!


S&S: Is there an ingredient or technique you’re currently fascinated with?

FKM: I’m always exploring and playing with new ingredients, I try to use ingredients that no other bartender is using. I’m always watching videos of the best bartenders and I try to pick a little from each of them to keep improving my own technique.

S&S: What led to your working at Employees Only (one of the most well-known bars in the world)?

FKM: Employees Only was always my dream bar, since I started working in the industry it was my goal and now I feel very lucky to be part of this family.

S&S: Can you tell us how working at Employees Only is different from other places you’ve tended bar?

FKM: At Employees Only, we are a family. This bar has a very unique program that we all follow: we start from the bottom no matter your experience before, it makes you grow as a person and as a bartender. It’s not a simple and easy bar for sure, there is a lot behind the shake of every cocktail that we serve. The most important thing is that we all fall in Love with Employees Only and that’s why we all give 200% every day. We all come to the bar, even on our days off. Employees Only is more than a bar; it’s home.

S&S: What’s your favorite thing about the drink you’ve created for us?

FKM: My favorite thing about this drink is that it makes me travel back to my childhood. It makes me remember my mom waiting for us to have lunch and drinking “Fresco de Horchata,” a very traditional drink in Guatemala, which is the flavor that I focused on for the cocktail. I also added chocolate because that’s something very traditional in Guatemala and all over the world. And who doesn’t love chocolate? Most people do.

S&S: What music do you hope people are listening to as they mix and enjoy your cocktail at home?

FKM: My favorite music is house music. You could say I’m a type of party boy. My favorite song right now is hard to say because I have many that I like, but maybe my favorite is “Sun Is Never Going Down” by Martin Garrix so please listen to it while your shaking my drink.

S&S: What do you do when you’re not working?

FKM: When I’m not working I work out during the day, I go play tennis, soccer or basketball with friends in the summer when it’s warm of course, in the winter only the gym lol, and at night I’m always visiting friends in the industry at their jobs, go see them while they work, have a nice dinner with nice cocktails.

S&S: What’s your go-to drink order when trying out a new bar?

FKM: I check the cocktail menu and I will always get the most curious cocktail on the menu, or leave it to the bartender and they better give me something with Rum Zacapa haha

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