Cory Teubner at Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro

Cory Teubner, seen here working at Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro, was voted Best Bartender in this year’s Readers’ Choice Awards.

Runner-up: Jeany Birdeno, Merry Time Bar and Grill

Honorable mention: Juan Meza, Shelburne Pub

Cory Teubner doesn’t understand why you like dirty martinis, but he will make you a really, really good one.

For him, though, a great cocktail begins with fresh ingredients.

“Liquor is step number two,” he said. “I often start with something fresh and see what liquor pairs with it.”

Teubner has been the bartender at the Astoria Coffeehouse & Bistro for nearly seven years. In the seasonal menus he creates throughout the year, he’s known for playing with flavors, using fresh herbs, fresh fruit and unusual ingredients (dill? yogurt? sambal sauce?) and making his own infused liquors. A cranberry hibiscus vodka he made on a whim to fill an immediate need has since become a staple at the bistro.

Every year, he tries to branch out a little more, exploring new flavors and ingredients.

He tries to source liquors from North Coast distilleries and makes frequent use of Pat’s Pantry, a spice store in downtown Astoria.

For anyone venturing into the world of making their own cocktails, he suggests finding balance. A really good lemon drop, for example, is simply a balance between sweet and sour, he said.

“Play with everything and see what ratios you can mess with,” he said.

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