People talk about your predecessor, Murray Stenson, as if he were Batman—if Batman did more to facilitate drinking. How does it feel to take over as head bartender at the Zig Zag?

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You can't replace Batman—you have to carve your own niche. I think I'd be the Joker to Murray's Batman. The Heath Ledger Joker, though Jack Nicholson was okay.

Stenson is also known as "Mur the Blur." What do you think your bartending nickname should be?

I certainly hope it isn't "The Hack." I've been called "Junior" by more than one person.

What's the rarest liquor you've tried?

Probably a pre-WWII chartreuse.

Which drink has the most interesting origin? Besides, of course, Flies in Rize, which a friend of mine invented accidentally by leaving malt liquor open near a window.

[Laughs] Abandonado Extra Añejo tequila—its first release won a bunch of awards, but the guy who made it was so loaded that he didn't document the process he used. Now it's not quite as good.

I bet people come into the Zig Zag drunk and ask for cocktails that don't exist.

Yep—"I'll have a Gelatinous Cummerbund." People ask me for crazy drinks all the time.

What's the strangest substance you've been asked to put in a drink?

Marmite. An Australian guy brought his own jar.

Interview by Sarah Galvin