Armani C. Russell of DELTA’S RESTAURANT in New Brunswick, NJ

Master Mixologist: Armani C. Russell of DELTA'S RESTAURANT in New Brunswick, NJ

Delta’s Restaurant, the beloved and popular soul food eatery, is located in the heart of New Brunswick, New Jersey. Along with delicious cuisine, Delta’s features a top-notch beverage program with a cocktail menu that pairs wonderfully with the food selections. We had the opportunity to interview Bar Manager and Mixologist, Armani C. Russell for our “Master Mixologist” feature.

When did you first become interested in the cocktail culture?

Despite having been trained as a mixologist, it wasn’t until my first shift that I felt excited about cocktails. I started out at Delta’s as a server but was quickly moved behind the bar after the manager at the time learned that I was a mixologist. Not too many things are as excitable than your first time behind the bar.

What innovations in mixology and bartending do you find fascinating?

This is hard because I am always pleasantly surprised and inspired by my peers in this industry and how they use their creativity but I would have to say that I am most fascinated by how we have elevated cocktail presentation. Presentation is a deal breaker for me when it comes to cocktail culture, I love a well presented cocktail!

How do restaurant and bar guests encourage your creativity?

One thing I’ve learned in this business is, nobody knows what they want! We can all be so indecisive when it comes to cocktail culture… Do I want it up? on the rocks? Light or dark? sweet or bitter? We just don’t know! I think I am challenged by guests to give them what they want, even when they don’t know. Sounds crazy and that’s why it’s challenging LOL

What are your preferred “classic cocktails” and why?

My preferred classic cocktails are minimal recipes with versatile flavor profiles, like an Aperol Spritz.

What are some of your favorite infusions and how you like to use them in drinks?

My favorite infusions tend to be fruitier, such as pineapple or peach tequilas and I like them mixed with something bubbly like club or champagne. I also love to soak watermelon in St. Germain and add it to champagne. It’s *chefs kiss*

Tell us about a few of your signature cocktails and why they are distinctive.

Since you asked, I actually have a whole website of unique signature cocktails, My signature cocktails are fun and robust and often combine colorful garnishes and bold flavors. I would say that my minimal approach to recipe building makes them distinctive. Sometimes people are shocked by how much flavor you can build using just a few ingredients.

Give us your perfect pairing for a cocktail and a culinary selection.

I think wine pairs well with anything and there’s a wine out there for everything. My favorite combination to suggest to guests at the restaurant is Robert Mondavi’s Private Selection Bourbon Cabernet with our Beef Short Ribs in our traditional BBQ sauce.

Tell us a little about your company or restaurant.

Delta’s has been a staple of cocktails, food and soul for over 20 years. We are one of the few Black-owned businesses in the area with a menu as unique as our restaurant located in historic downtown New Brunswick.

Editor’s Note: Stay tuned to Food and Wine for our Chef Spotlight for Delta’s Chef, Constantino Garcia and the restaurant feature from our recent visit.

Delta’s Restaurant is located at 19 Dennis St., New Brunswick, NJ, 08902. Visit: or call 732-249-1551

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Armani C. Russell