Pam Wiznitzer on Gendered Drinks, the Spirit of the Year, and Hardworking Bartenders

Pam Wiznitzer bartender nyc
Courtesy of Pam Wiznitzer
Courtesy of Pam Wiznitzer

President of the New York chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild and a native New Yorker, Pam Wiznitzer first made a name for herself at what’s arguably the best bar to make a name for yourself: The Dead Rabbit (she was one of the award-winning bar’s original bartenders). After that, she went on to serve as creative director of the Upper East Side’s speakeasy-ish Seamstress, one of the best new bars in the country last year. This year, Wiznitzer joined the Seamstress team on another notable opening, Williamsburg’s Southern-themed Belle Shoals, where she’s taken on the title of creative director again, flaunting her skills with drinks like the Devil’s Music with Ilegal mezcal, blanco tequila, Ancho Reyes, kale, and lime.

What spirit defined 2016 for you?
Oh, tough question. For me I would say mezcal, specifically Ilegal mezcal, helped to define 2016. Agave spirits have been on the rise for the past few years and Ilegal mezcal has become a leader in the category. Between the people who help to run and spread gospel about the brand, to their political commentary and involvement with the presidential race, I think this brand has done so much for the bartending community and to advocate for people who work with the brand outside of the United States. Plus, mezcal is a ritualistic and communally shared spirit by groups of people. Plus, it never leaves me with a hangover...

What’s the craziest thing that happened in your bar this year?
One of my bartenders had a baby and she worked until the day before she gave birth. She is one of the strongest and most incredible people I've ever worked with in this industry. You might think that "crazy" only relates to guest behavior or incidents that happen in the work space, but for me, I think crazy is a positive term and she really challenged societal norms by standing on her two feet and shaking cocktails night after night for months.

What drink are you ready to retire in 2017?
I'm ready to retire "gendered" drinks, or people who assume they can't have a cocktail because it’s too "masculine" or too "girly." Come on folks, it's almost 2017. Drink what you want. Don't worry about color or glassware design. Just order what you would like to sip and drink it with confidence.

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Lucy Meilus is Thrillist's New York Editor and would be a terrible bartender. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram