Going 10 Rounds with Top Bartender Caer Ferguson
The talented Austin, Texas, bartender, tackles our speed round of questions.
What do you like to drink after a shift? “Blanco tequila on the rocks, ideally with a couple castelvetrano olives. If I’m closing down the bar and need something while cleaning, usually some over-proof gin in my open tonic water bottle or absinthe in my open Topo Chico bottle will do. That way we don’t have to clean another glass.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? ““Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac. It’s the easiest song for me to sing along to. If I ever found a jukebox with music by BabyMetal (the j-pop/metal band), I would say something by them, but that would probably only exist in Japan.”
After all these years bartending and creating drinks, do you still enjoy going out to bars? “Absolutely. Maybe not most bars, but as someone who provides hospitality and service, I need to receive some every once in a while. I cannot go to a busy bar without at least a mild amount of work anxiety, but a chill patio or an intimate cocktail bar are some of my favorite places.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “Whiskey Smash. I got it in my head when I was 21 that I had to learn to like whiskey and the whiskey smash made that way too easy.”
What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “The Flavor Bible or my BAR five-day manual are my quick draw resources. Death & Co’s and PDT’s books were my first bar books, but I feel like I know them so well now I don’t reference them much anymore.”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “A 50/50 Martini with a twist and a well-aged gouda cheese.”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “The Crazy Rich Lychee Martini. I created it for my pop-up bar being inspired by how disappointing most lychee Martinis are and how amazing the movie Crazy Rich Asians was.”
Is there one person (dead or alive) you’d like to make a cocktail for? “Hayao Miyazaki. I went to school for animation and Miyazaki is the man behind most of my favorite movies (most famously known for Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro). While I don’t draw or make films much anymore, Miyazaki’s work first inspired me to follow my artistic and creative passions, which absolutely led me to bartending.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “Tequila and a Schöfferhofer. It’s like a Paloma in your mouth.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “Eyeliner and a curling iron. When I’m traveling as a bartender it is either to learn about spirits or to meet people. I can wear very casual clothes, but if my hair looks okay and I have eyeliner on, I can feel presentable no matter the situation.”
How do you recharge after a long week of bartending? “Hug my cat Yojimbo, go to a coffee shop with my husband and plan to map out my week. Between work, competitions, pop ups, educational trips and more, having the time to organize my schedule clears my brain of so much stress.”
Interview has been condensed and edited.