What do you like to drink after a shift? “After closing down the bar, there’s nothing quite like a cold, crisp glass of rose. Maybe two, depending on the night!”
What is the all-time best dive bar jukebox song? “Anything that makes my friends want to sing along with me…Honestly, they’d sing along to almost anything. We once had an entire train car singing along with us without any music. Cher is usually a go-to for me.”
What drink should be banished and why? “I don’t think any specific drinks should necessarily be banned. People enjoy different things and that’s okay! I am pretty excited to see a few classic cocktails resurfacing and being improved on, especially the Cosmo. The Gin Cosmo has become one of my new/old favorites.”
Name the first good drink you ever drank and where you had it. “The first craft cocktail I ever had was a Last Word years ago in Nashville. I was working at a sports bar during college and had always been interested in cocktails but knew nothing about them or where to start. At that time, I still thought Appletinis were the best thing to drink…I was freshly 21. My roommate and I went to a cocktail bar and ordered two Last Words after talking with the bartender about what we were looking for. After that, I knew I wanted to make cocktails. I was hooked!”
What book on cocktails or spirits is your go-to resource? “I love my Flavor Bible! I used it all the time when creating new cocktails and cooking. If I had to pick a favorite cocktail book, I’d have to go with Beachbum Berry’s Potions of the Caribbean. I love reading about the history and origins of classic cocktails and recipes. Potions of the Caribbean is full of them.”
What’s your favorite bottle of booze that costs less than $25? “Definitely bianco vermouth. It’s incredibly versatile and so delicious on its own. It makes a great 50/50 Martini, Spritz or Highball. Most brands are pretty inexpensive, so you can try a few and decide which is your favorite, which is half the fun.”
What’s your favorite cocktail and food pairing? “I love…Love Indian food and almost always pair it with a dry Riesling. I love how sweeter, citrus forward wines make the curry spices come alive.”
What drink are you most proud of creating? “Definitely Geb’s Reviver! (Bombay Sapphire Gin, pineapple lemon oleo, lemon juice and matcha powder.) It’s the cocktail that allowed me to make it to the finals of Bombay Sapphire’s Most Imaginative Bartender competition. Geb’s Reviver is a zero-waste cocktail, which is something that I’m very passionate about.”
What’s your favorite shot-and-a-beer combination? “A Highlife and a shot of amaro is my usual go-to pairing.”
What is the one tool that you always make sure to pack when you’re traveling for business? “I always make sure to pack my copper bar spoon. As cheesy as it sounds, it was the first bar tool I bought for myself years ago when I decided that bartending could be a career. It’s a nice reminder of the passion I had when I was a lot younger and motivates me to keep working hard for my goals.”
Carley Gaskin is a bartender at Disco in Chicago. She recently won the 12th Annual Most Imaginative Bartender Competition presented by Bombay Sapphire Gin.
Interview has been condensed and edited.