Get To Know The Cocktail Whiz Behind A Hot New Bar In The East Village

dave arnold booker & daxDave Arnold spins a shaker

Photo: Gabriele Stabile

Born into a New York family of engineers and doctors, Dave Arnold broke the mould and went into the restaurant industry after getting a fine arts master’s degree from Columbia University.Arnold has now experimented with new methods of making drinks for more than eight years and has become a well-known equipment and food science expert.

Now, Arnold, 42, is the owner and lead proprietor of a new, intimate 32-seat East Village bar called Booker & Dax, located on 13th street near the corner of 2nd Avenue, attached to Momofuku’s Ssam Bar restaurant. Booker & Dax, which opened its doors in January, is named after Arnold’s two sons.

Arnold, who is also on staff at the French Culinary Institute and a judge on the ABC reality cooking show “Time Machine Chefs,” uses sophisticated technology to make novel and unique drink innovations, including a centrifuge kept in the basement that helps concentrate different flavours. He even has a toolbox filled with syringes and other equipment to make sure each drink gets maximum flavour, and a special vintage ice shaving machine he bought while on a trip to Japan. 

“About 75 per cent of the drinks at Booker & Dax have at least one ingredient that goes into the centrifuge,” he told Business Insider on a steamy Friday afternoon in August. “It’s just more efficient.”

Booker & DaxInside Booker & Dax

Photo: Booker & Dax

There’s a science to how much of each ingredient goes into the perfect cocktail. Arnold knows how much sugar and acid has to go into each drink to maintain an optimal ratio, and there really isn’t much margin for error with the drinking glass only a certain size.

We asked Arnold to make one of his favourite drink recipes for us, and he obliged, selecting an interpretation of the classic margarita. It involves centrifuged lime juice and shaved ice, as well as an ingredient called “hellfire.” Simply put, this is not a margarita recipe you’ll be making at home.

Tasting the margarita, it had a noticeable herbal taste and the sharp acidity from the lime went wonderfully with the sweetness of the liqueurs. It’s just one of the many carefully cultivated creations Arnold has invented for Booker & Dax.

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