Toby Maloney | Head Mixologist, The Violet Hour

Toby Maloney
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Industry veteran Toby Maloney has been bartending for 25 years, with an extensive resume that firmly establishes him as both a trailblazer and an educator. “All of the projects I’ve been involved in has produced many world class bartenders and I am so proud to be part of their education,” he says. Currently, Maloney is the beverage director for both Mother’s Ruin and Loverboy in New York, and the head mixologist of The Violet Hour in Chicago (for which he brought home a James Beard Award for “Outstanding Bar Program” in 2015), and The Patterson House in Nashville.

Having acquired a few invaluable skills in culinary school in San Francisco, Maloney would later go on to use them as one of the forerunners in New York’s cocktail revival, working at such innovative institutions as Pegu Club and Milk & Honey. In addition, he was a founding partner and former “philosophical guide” of Alchemy Consulting, and is well-respected for creating not only novel cocktails, but talented bar teams.

So what does Maloney do when he’s not drinking, or drink-making? Here, he tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share his best and worst drinking experiences, his go-to dive-bar order and the one thing he wishes he’d known five years ago. —Amy C. Collins

Current occupation:
Nomadic Hedonist. Head Intoxologist For The Violet Hour, Chicago; The Patterson House, Nashville; and Mos Eisley, New York. Barback for Speed Rack.

What do want to be when you grow up?
6-foot-4.

Best thing you ever drank:
A glass of Tokaji rinsed with Black Maple bourbon made by Jane Lopes at The Catbird Seat.

Worst thing you ever drank:
All the cocktails I didn’t order from Sasha.

First time you ever got drunk:
“Orange Surprise”: a finger from everything in the parents’ liquor cabinet poured into a green plastic thermos plus OJ, chugged behind the ground keeper’s shed, Centennial Junior High School, circa 1981.

If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti. That is the easiest question I’ve ever answered.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
Yoga makes your knees stop hurting.

Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
Boozy coffee in a SodaStream. I was cleaning that mess up forever.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
The only thing I do when I’m not eating or drinking is sleeping.

Your favorite bar, and why:
The closest one. Duh.

Best meal you’ve ever had:
Something made by a toothless grandma in a night market in Thailand. It cost a dollar.

What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
A Daiquiri, and a Sazarac.

Wine bar?
The sweetest riesling they have.

In a dive bar?
The crappiest beer and the best whiskey.

Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Shower Champagne and a shag. Concurrently, whenever possible.

The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
The term “Bar Chef.”

The last text message you sent:
“Yeesh, Just saw a bartender fuck up marking a duce with roll-ups.”

  • Miss A

    An “Intoxicologist” wants to banish the term “Bar Chef”? That’s both hilarious and sad.

    Button up your shirt, and make a drink. No one wants their twee daiquiri riff garnished with chest hair.

    • Ravi

      Not to mention how he is “straining” that cocktail…

      • michael

        Lots of wannabes with trash resumés talking about one of the most respected in the game. If you knew anything about Lorenzo’s or Mother’s you’d know strainers don’t mean shit there.

        • Ravi

          You’ve seen my resume?? I don’t care who you are or where you work. I know low rent lazy bullshit when I see it.

          • michael

            Like I said, he’s one of the most respected in the game. When you have James Beard awards for bar programs you created, and subsequently launched entire cocktail cultures with, we can talk about your resumé next to Toby’s. Until that day, keep turning your nose up at people for not doing things according to some unspoken laws of douchebag mixology. You give cocktail people a bad name.

          • Ravi

            Whatever dude. If you want to applaud resting on ones laurels then go right ahead. You wont find me standing in that line. You cant give me one reason why doing it that way is a good idea…

          • michael

            Like I said originally, if you knew anything about Mother’s Ruin or Loverboy, or Lorenzo’s, you’d know they are enherently designed to be anti-hero cocktail bars. They make their money off of giving cocktail nerds a panick attack… so, maybe you should applaud him for adapting to his environment, and learn something about this industry. It’s not all arm garters and Jerry Thomas books, dude. But if it were, Sasha Petraske’s first bartender (Toby) is, rest assured, better at that than you, too.

          • Ravi

            I’m sure your boy is the greatest thing ever and I know you treasure his signed poster over your bed…

            Like I said. You can’t give me one reason why doing that is a good idea.

            So sit and spin nerd. Preferably on a strainer.

          • michael

            Let me know where you work and next time I’m in your hood I’ll come watch you twiddle your mustache and adjust your suspenders while telling guests about your cool new tinctures.

          • Ravi

            Rapscallion
            2023 Greenville Ave
            Dallas TX 75206

            Come on by anytime. You’ll see yourself that you’re wrong about what I do and who I am. Until then… You’ve got me all figured out.

          • michael

            Hm, never heard of it…. funny how that works.

          • Ravi

            Hard to see and hear a lot of things when your head is lodged firmly in someones ass.

            Where do you work?

    • Tyler Fry

      It should be pointed out that even “mixologist” was originally used in a jocular, ironic sense: “a true mixologist of tipicular fixin’s.”
      “Intoxicologist” serves that same cheeky, but sincere integrity of the original. “Bar Chef” serves nothing but a pompous and elitist agenda, and one place where the bar world can benefit from distancing itself from outdated kitchen culture.