Our April featured bartender is none other than Yani Frye, U.S. Champion of the 2013 Angostura Global Cocktail Challenge! He can be found at Detroit’s Sugar House on Michigan Avenue most nights of the week. He has a true passion for the art of mixology and is constantly creating & experimenting even when he’s at home!

Yani Frye at the Sugar HouseHouse of Angostura: What is your favorite cocktail featuring Angostura Bitters or Angostura Rum?

Yani Frye: A Daiquiri shaken and strained up with Angostura 7yr Rum with 3 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters in it, fresh lime juice and Demerara simple syrup.

HOA: Have you experimented with the new Amaro di Angostura?

I love creating new twists on classic stirred cocktails using the new Angostura Amaro. Here’s a new recipe I created:

“The Trinidad Road”
1oz Angostura 1919 rum
.75 Angostura Amaro
.75 Carpano Sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
Stirred up with a orange twist.

HOA: What is the most unique/interesting application of Angostura Bitters that you have seen?

YF: Well, I did create Angostura aromatic cotton candy recently.

HOA: Woah, we’d love to try that sometime. Where do you typically go for a cocktail in your city?

YF: Wright & Co. or Honest John’s.

HOA: How about for a beer and a shot?

YF: …more like a Daiquiri and a shot of Angostura aromatic bitters!

HOA: Heard any good jokes lately?

YF: So, I’m bartending, typical night, nothing out of the ordinary – when out of nowhere this shiitake mushroom walks in and takes a seat at the bar. I’m a little surprised, but of course I hand them a menu.
Shiitake mushroom doesn’t touch the menu, looks up and says;

“I wants to buy everybody in the bar a shot of Angostura aromatic bitters.”

“Everybody?” I ask.

“Everybody!” He says. “Customers, bartenders, the doorman, that guy playing the piano – heck even the barbacks! Round of Ango, on me!”

Of course I pour all the shots and hand them out, and now everybody’s smiling and staring at this shiitake mushroom waiting to see if he’s going to make a toast or say something – but he’s completely motionless. Just sitting there, silent.

So I walk over and ask him, “What’s the occasion? Why all the shots of Ango?”

“I don’t know, I guess you could say I’m a FUNGI.”

HOA: Outside of the daily grind, what are you passionate about that helps keep you a balanced bartender?

YF: Stress relief. I love spending as much time with my family outside of my work family as possible. Because of my crazy work hours, I don’t get to see everyone as much as I could. I also love to play pinball when I can find a machine to play!

HOA: How do you feel about the bartender/tattoo relationship?

YF: Tattoos are a form of expression through art. I believe bartenders that create are also artists. Artists of all kind love to express themselves, so it would only be natural for many bartenders to use tattoos as another form of expression.

HOA: Have any tattoos of your own? 

YF: Yes, plenty. My favorite is my zombie tiger on my forearm. Credit: Jon Larson

Yani Frye Zombie Tiger Tattoo

HOA: Any advice for someone looking to get into bartending as a career?

YF:1) READ! There are so many books available about anything and everything about the industry.

2) Start small and build. Pick out your favorite topic within bartending and start there. i.e., be the master of Rum or maybe all the endless possibilities of bitters and tinctures intrigues you.

3) Put yourself around people that know more than you. Join the USBG (United States Bartending Guild) or IBA (International Bartending Association).

HOA: Do you have an original cocktail recipe (featuring Angostura Rum or Bitters) that you would like to share with us?

YF: The Vicious HibiscusViscious Hibiscus with Angostura by Yani Frye
2oz Angostura 5yr rum
.75oz Hibiscus Honey Syrup*
.5oz Lemon juice
1 dash Angostura Orange bitters
2 dashes Angostura aromatic bitters
Shaken, strained up.
Garnish with something nice.

*Hibiscus Honey syrup
Make tea with dried hibiscus flowers.
Strain, while hot add equal parts by weight honey.


HOA: What’s the strangest request that you’ve gotten during your time behind the bar?

YF: Nothing too unusual but I often answer the phone while I’m at the bar. On a very few occasions in my three and a half years of being at Sugar House I’ve gotten calls asking if we were a male strip club. We are not, nor have we ever been. but you never ever know the future.

HOA: If you had a theme song that played during your shift, what would it be?

YF: “One More Cup Of Coffee” Artist: The White Stripes
Album: The White Stripes
Released: 1999

Love this song.

HOA: If you weren’t bartending, what do you think you would be doing?

YF: Nothing, I would be dead.

HOA: If you could have a cocktail with anyone in the world (dead or alive), who would it be?

YF: My age Marilyn Monroe. I think she’d be into me.