Bartender Crush: Abigail Gullo on Jonas Andersen

Whether across an ocean or across town, bartenders love to crush on other bartenders. "Bartender Crush" digs into these connections and the drinks and drunken nights that inspired them.

pouring stirred cocktail

Abigail Gullo calls Jonas Andersen her “Hamlet” on account of his being from Denmark. The native Manhattanite turned New Orleans bartender met Andersen in Ireland at the Midleton distillery where bartenders from all over the world were invited to drink Irish whiskey and carouse until the wee hours.

The whiskey and gingers were flowing freely when “The Galway Girl” came on. Gullo, playing the part of a true Southern belle, started a dance party swinging about the floor with flair bartenders from Turkey and club bartenders from Milan, when she and Andersen locked arms. They became quick friends, and eventually returned to their far-flung corners of the bar kingdom.

Gullo’s bartending style is theatrical. She wears flowers in her hair, dresses up for each shift and calls bar patrons “honey.” As an adopted member of the legendary Brennan restaurant family, Gullo has taken up the mantle of so many grandes dames before her, even serenading Ella Brennan, the queen of Commander’s Palace, when she comes in for a cocktail. It makes sense then, that she would taking a liking to Andersen, who showed up to a cocktail competition on that same Ireland trip dressed as a boxer ready to fight, gloves and all.

Andersen and Gullo may be dramatic in their showmanship behind a bar, but they’re as contemplative as they are boisterous. “We have a similar elegance in our styles,” explains Gullo. Each has a penchant for building simple drinks derived from the classics, but always with an unexpected twist. Communication has been sparse, but Abigail Gullo of SoBou has maintained long-distance admiration for Andersen (of Copenhagen’s Strøm Bar) since their meeting last June. “The bartending community is like the United Nations,” she says. “Except we like each other.”

Gullo has since taken cues from Anderson and she talks admiringly about his ability to spark inventiveness in her drinks—while across an ocean—simply by telling her what recipe he’s obsessing over. For example, riffing on his champagne syrup—made from sweet grape juice and champagne leaves—she has created her own Southern Louisiana version using raw sugar cane. She’s been planning a rum agricole Old Fashioned (also known as Ti Punch) using the cava spiked syrup in ode to his name. “It’s going to be the cocktail I welcome him to New Orleans with,” she says.

Jonas emerged triumphant from a Sidecar competition sponsored by Merlet in January. The prize? A trip to New Orleans. Immediately following the announcement, Abigail’s “Hamlet” exclaimed to the camera, “I’m coming to see you Abby!” She’s been working diligently to perfect that rum Old Fashioned ever since.