Star Bartender

Going 10 Rounds With Bartender Annie Williams Pierce

The talented Ohio bartender tackles our speed round of questions.

What do you like to drink after a shift? “Usually a 50/50 mix of Amaro Montenegro and Amaro Nonino. I tend to set my drink down a lot while I’m closing down or cleaning, so it needs to be something that I can come back to and it will still be good!”

What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “Werewolves of London.” The [Warren] Zevon original is good, but I’m partial to the Jason Molina cover. If you can get people howling in unison, it’s pretty amazing.”

What’s your favorite city to drink in besides your own? “Up until this past month, I would have said Chicago (which is a phenomenal drinking city), but I’m definitely going to have to say London. I was so impressed with their cocktail scene. Each place I went to was so well thought out and so beautifully executed, I cannot wait to go back next year to visit some favorites and see what else has developed.”

Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “I lived in Italy when I was 20 and had some truly remarkable wines, but for cocktails, that’s a hard one. I have to admit, my drinking history is a little muddled (pun intended?). I’d have to say it would be the first time I had a Perfect Manhattan (maybe 2011?). I am not sure where I was, but I remember realizing then that while classics are classics for a reason, they are not immutable. There was so much more breadth of flavor, and the lemon twist seemed to bring the drink to life.”

What book on cocktails, spirits or food is your go-to resource? “My Flavor Bible is definitely the most read through, but I also refer to Bar Tartine quite a bit. I like their flavor combinations as well as their recipes for infusions, syrups, vinegars, and other fermented things.”

What cocktail was the toughest one for you to master? Tiki drinks tend to be a little difficult for me, they’re the opposite of the way I like to drink, so I never feel like they’re completely balanced.”

Do you ever drink cocktails with a meal? “Depending on the meal, I usually start with a 50/50 Martini or a Vieux Carré, but it’s mostly wine with dinner if my husband and I are out somewhere nice(r). To be honest though, I’m never above having a High Life with a burger!”

What drink are you most proud of creating? “I like to say that my sweet spot for cocktails is ‘weird but good,’ cocktails that maybe make people go back for a second sip, trying to wrap their brains and taste buds around a drink. London x Tokyo (the drink that got me to London for the finals of the Bombay Sapphire Most Imaginative Bartender competition) is a soft, subtle, vegetal Martini with Bombay Sapphire Gin, sugar snap pea- infused blanc vermouth, and verjus for acidity. I love it for its seeming simplicity, but in reality there is so much depth.”

What is your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “High Life and a shot of amaro, or a Victoria and a 50/50 combination of mezcal/sotol if I’m feeling feisty!”

What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “My jigger. I love the weight of the Leopold Jigger. Plus, it is a good reminder to myself that at the end of the day, I’m just making drinks, and that regardless of where I am the purpose is always service.”

Annie Williams Pierce is a bartender at Curio at Harvest in Columbus, Ohio. She also just won Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition where she defeated competitors from across the country and Canada.