'Cocktail King' and CT resident Dale DeGroff appears on Netflix show 'Drink Masters'

Photo of Leeanne Griffin

As Dale DeGroff was announced as a guest judge on the new Netflix's series "Drink Masters," the 12 competing mixologists cheered and clapped.

"Dale DeGroff is like the cocktail OG," said contestant Kapri Robinson. 

"Dale DeGroff is the godfather of modern mixology," said contestant Meredith Barry. "He changed the game."

DeGroff, who was recently featured in Connecticut Magazine, is credited with creating modern cocktail culture (including the Cosmo made popular in "Sex and the City"), reviving classic recipes in New York City and introducing them to a new generation of drinkers. He was partially raised in Westerly, R.I. before moving to New York City, and he moved to Pawcatuck with his wife during the pandemic.

Dale DeGroff revived classic cocktail recipes in New York City hotspots and helped start a revolution in the way Americans drink.

Dale DeGroff revived classic cocktail recipes in New York City hotspots and helped start a revolution in the way Americans drink.

Photo courtesy of Dale DeGroff

"When the Rainbow Room reopened in 1987 with DeGroff’s pre-Prohibition-inspired cocktail menu, the 65th-floor space at 30 Rock became a Camelot for cocktail lovers — ground zero in the craft cocktail revival that would eventually spread across the country, resulting in suspenders-wearing bartenders shaking and twirling drinks with the skill of chemists and the passion of painters," Erik Ofgang wrote in Connecticut Magazine.

"DeGroff’s menu featured then-almost-unheard-of drinks in New York City, such as pisco sours and mojitos, and shaped the modern cocktail bar. DeGroff tracked down the small martini glasses used by the main characters in the 1934 classic film The Thin Man and reintroduced them to the cocktail world as the Nick and Nora martini glass. His cosmo recipe became the definitive take on the cocktail and helped popularize it after Madonna was photographed by an Associated Press photographer drinking one at the Rainbow Room in the 1990s."

The cocktail expert was featured in the third episode of the new Netflix series, which features a dozen professional mixologists as they "showcase their dazzling cocktail-crafting skills" and compete for a $100,000 prize. The contestants paired up to craft botanical cocktails with elements like juniper, pandan, rose, licorice root, black cardamom and hibiscus.