Going 10 Rounds with Top Bartender Christy Pope
The talented bartender and co-owner of the Dallas bar Midnight Rambler, tackles our speed round of questions.
What do you like to drink after a shift? “Really depends on my mood, but generally I like to drink one of the cocktails that we are currently featuring on our menu at Midnight Rambler, I feel like it keeps me connected to our product. My recent go to is our HOGO-A-GO-GO Punch which is from our opening menu but we just brought back for our five-year anniversary (Smith & Cross Jamaican Rum, lime, West Indian bay leaf falernum, hibiscus tisane, nutmeg).”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “Day dive bar drinking: “Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac. Night dive bar drinking: “Transmission” by Joy Division. Classic dive bar drinking: “I’m a Ramblin’ Man” by Waylon Jennings or “Jackson” by Johnny Cash & June Carter.”
After all these years bartending and creating drinks, do you still enjoy going out to bars? “I love going to bars! I love being a patron at a bar—sitting on the ‘other side.’ I get great pleasure in finding bars where there is an immersive experience.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “The first time I had drinks at the original Milk & Honey in 2001. Simply a Moscow Mule and a Tequila & Grapefruit were a revelation. The frozen Collins glasses with hand cut ice spears and the stainless-steel straw were so sensorial. The house-made freshly juiced ginger syrup for the Moscow Mule was bright, clean, and intensely spicy. The Tequila & Grapefruit was simple but delightful with the fresh squeezed grapefruit. I was smitten and naturally I inquired about a job on the way out the door.”
What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “I always find myself referencing both Imbibe and Punch by Dave Wondrich.”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “I am a sucker for a Negroni and a cheese board.”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “The Hocus Pocus: Ancho chili-infused Lustau East India Sherry, tequila blanco, kummel and cacao.”
Is there one person (dead or alive) you’d like to make a cocktail for? “Dead: Eleanor Roosevelt. Alive: Hilary Clinton.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “Laird’s Straight Applejack 86-Proof with a German Kolsch.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “A binder with all my printed details: flights, schedules, recipes. I can adapt to any situation, or needs, but these details are key to being on time and on task.”
Christy Pope is a talented bartender and the co-owner of Dallas bar Midnight Rambler.
Interview has been condensed and edited.