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Richard Clemens III, Nixs, Hartford

Richard Clemens III started flipping burgers and washing dishes at Schmedley's Pub & Restaurant while a student at UConn. He soon built a passion for food and drink. He moved to Old Saybrook to cook at Penny Lane Pub, and when it got too hot in the kitchen, he found his way into the dining room. His career eventually took him to Hartford's Joe Black's, where he learned from some of the best bartenders in the city. In his eight years as a bartender, you may have seen him at Agave and Tisane. Q: What's your favorite cocktail you have come up with? A: [It] would have to be the Baszzle Dazzle. It's a spring-summer drink that's delicious any time of the year. It's muddled basil and simple syrup, all-natural peach liquor, the Botanist botanical gin, a little bit of lemon juice: Shake it up and serve it straight up in a martini glass with a splash of soda. It's balanced, it's fresh. Q: You speak very passionately the local bar scene. A: I love what's happening with the Connecticut bar scene. Before I left Tisane I made its cocktail for the Faith Middleton booze schmooze. I put together a crazy, weird, out-there drink, and I thought I had a great drink. When I had the chance, I walked around and saw what Connecticut has as far as competition. We have a lot of creative people out there, like Khalid from Barley Vine. I think I'm very passionate because ... I know that we're not just the space between Boston and New York. When it comes to come of the great cocktails and great bartenders in those cities today, I think Hartford is on its way to bringing itself up to speed and being its own innovative location. Q: What is the theory or concept behind the drinks you serve at Nixs? A: Fresh ingredients, quality spirits and a little bit of an insane edge when it comes to creativity. We all know what it's like to go to a restaurant and be surprised and delighted by a culinary creation. It's coming alive that everyone that does like to imbibe is discovering the same delight in the beverages. Q: If you could suggest one pairing to people, what would it be? A: A dawn of the daiquiri with our tuna tartare tacos.

Sara Grant / CTNow
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