Going BirmingHAM on cocktails
As any AC/DC fan can tell you, sometimes the most rebellious act is staying exactly the same. So when Steva Casey became enthralled with craft cocktails back in the mid 2000s, she didn’t try to bring then-fashionable speakeasy decorum to her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Instead, she enfolded the craze into the city’s embrace, never adopting the affectations it took the rest of the country years to shed. “I travel a lot,” says Casey, who currently runs the drinks program at the music venue Saturn, “and I go to bars of all kinds. I find it interesting when a city has an identity, food-wise, but not cocktail-wise. Birmingham is about comfort, approachability, happiness, and cocktails should be emblematic of their place.”
“I want to make drinks that people enjoy while enjoying whatever else they’re enjoying at the time, whether it’s their company, their book, chasing the bad day they’ve had, celebrating the good day they’ve had. There’s never a bad time to drink.”
Casey’s pretty happy and approachable herself, an attitude that’s highly contagious when she meets bartenders from other places. Relates Lindsey Johnson: “We’re at Cane Camp, in Puerto Rico. [Really Famous Cocktail Guy] walks over to the pool party. Everyone sorta waves, says hi, goes back to their Pina Coladas. Steva Casey walks in 30 minutes later, and the pool is empty. People are crying tears of joy. Dancing breaks out. Joy in the land.”
As many colleagues as she meets on the road, Casey’s in a great position to convince other small-market cocktail aspirants that they don’t need to change a damn thing either. That’s good for the whole national scene -- a New York cocktail bar’s great when you’re in New York, but when you’re in Biloxi, or Bloomington, or Coeur D’Alene, you kinda want a cocktail bar that represents those places. For now, if you want that experience, you just have to fly to Saturn.