Going 10 Rounds with Top Bartender Susie Hoyt
The talented Louisville, Kentucky, bartender, tackles our speed round of questions.
What do you like to drink after a shift? “A beer and a shot. It’s usually a pilsner or a basic lager with a shot of bourbon.”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” or Fleetwood Mac, anything from the Rumors album really.”
After all these years bartending and creating drinks, do you still enjoy going out to bars? “Yes. It’s the interaction and the experience and spending time with good friends.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “Before I moved to Chicago my sister took me to the Violet Hour. I had no idea and had never been to a bar like that before. I’m pretty sure that it was the Juliet & Romeo, a Gimlet variation with the addition of cucumber and rose water. I was hooked. I remember telling my sister that I had to work there and never looked back.”
What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “Right now the Cocktail Codex for classic cocktails and variations, and syrup techniques. It’s phenomenal!”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “In general, light and refreshing. A French 75 variation, a Tom Collins variation a Highball variation with a salad or seafood. You might be able to sneak a shrub in there, but it’s got to stay light and long to pair well.”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “That’s tough. To me, it’s more about what people enjoy over how I feel about how good that it is. There are some drinks that have been on our menu a few times that people seem to enjoy. One is the Autumn Leaves which is a lower ABV Manhattan variation with Ramozzotti and Carpano Antica, and bourbon. The lemon peel expressed and discarded breaks through the sweet notes and makes it a nice digestif cocktail that’s perfect for fall.”
Is there one person (dead or alive) you’d like to make a cocktail for? “Phil Collins if I had to choose a musician.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “A lager and a shot of bourbon.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “My computer. There is a world of checklists, par sheets, recipes, and training guides in there. I can’t imagine being without it!”
How do you recharge after a long week of bartending? “Whew! There’s not much downtime in my schedule at the moment, but a good play session with my pup Charlie usually does the trick.”
Interview has been condensed and edited.