Over the course of the past few years, dozens of industry leaders from the world of wine, spirits, beer and cocktails tackled our Lookbook Questionnaire to tell us the weirdest hobby they currently have, the worst thing they ever drank, their preferred hangover recovery regime and more.
What do want to be when you grow up?
Worst thing you ever drank:
Dale DeGroff: Vietnamese whiskey with a whole gecko inside.
Jillian Vose: Grabbed the wrong cup at a party and got a mouthful of cigarette-flavored beer.
Natalie Johnson: Boone’s Farm out of a sweaty cowboy hat rolled into a funnel in college.
Maggie Campbell: A “Daiquiri” with no ice or citrus. It tasted like stomach acid.
Chris Hannah: Hot mezcal. Helping someone move apartments in late July, I return home, full of sweat and dehydration, and grab a half-full bottle of Fuji water and down it. Only it was tobala (from Del Maguey) and words can’t describe the pain. After five minutes of deliberating which sadistic douche would do such a thing, I remembered hanging out with Joaquín Simó the week prior where he shared with me his cheeky “Fuji-Beau.” Nicely done, chump.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
Dave Arnold: Trying to learn bagpipes.
Neal Bodenheimer: Cleaning bathrooms in other bars and restaurants.
Dale DeGroff: Competitive cork dropping: dropping a wine cork from six inches off a table and standing it on end multiple times in a row without missing.
Nicolas Palazzi: I collect pictures of you. I keep them in a dedicated room in my apartment, with candles and cut-outs of newspaper. Nothing weird.
David Wondrich: I collect strainers. Strainers.
Brian Miller: My sarong collection. I have far too many for a middle-aged man.
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
Chris Hannah: I still have a four-year-old bottled Ramos Gin Fizz in the cooler at my restaurant in case anyone wants to pop it open and volunteer…
Gary Crunkleton: The tobacco-infused bourbon I made ended up being pretty weird given all of the nicotine that leached into the bourbon. I had some of it tested and was told a half-ounce taste of the infusion was equal to inhaling a draw from 2,000 cigarettes.
Caitlin Laman: Peanut Butter & Jelly Punch.
Dave Arnold: Hot dog vodka. Not my idea but I went along with it. Terrible.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
Chris Hannah: That even though I wasn’t the one paying for all those bartending trips abroad, indeed I could have collected the frequent flyer miles.
Dave Arnold: Don’t assume that other people can tolerate the same amount of craziness that you can.
Jane Danger: Feeling nervous is only veiled excitement. It’s how I trick myself in to not having full-on anxiety. Also, your butt will never look as good as it does right now. So show it off as often as possible.
David Wondrich: That it would be really, really worth trying to get hold of one blowhard NYC real-estate developer’s tax returns.
What’s the one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever?
Xavier Herit: Midori.
Ivy Mix: Cocktail names that are 5, 6, 7, 8 words long.
Paul Grieco: Chardonnay.
Ryan Chetiyawardana: An unwavering fetish for the past. Innovation doesn’t mean gimmick, but it also doesn’t mean jettisoning tradition. There’s a lot of stubbornness on menus that is a total circle-jerk. Menus should be a guide for a guest, not a pat on the back for ourselves. Oh, and also spelling mistakes and bad grammar.
Brian Miller: Ego.
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
Abigail Gullo: A virgin Sazerac.
John Dye: I’ve had orders for drinks that taste like movies, songs and cities. I am not sure why someone would want a drink that tastes like the fog in Blade Runner, but to each his own.
TJ Lynch: A woman asked me to make a White Russian with what she claimed was her breast milk, [which] she had in her purse.
Chris Hannah: I was given a Twinkie once and asked to shake it in an egg-white Whiskey Sour.
Dave Arnold: Make a drink that tastes like a burrito. Unfortunately, it ended up tasting like a Subway Italian BMT instead.
Ivy Mix: “I got fired and dumped, make me something for that.”
First time you ever got drunk:
Paul McGee: Houston, Texas, New Year’s Eve, 1987. I was drinking Budweiser with my buddies Matt and Jody. Jody stuck a firecracker in his ass and lit it, but it was a dud so we didn’t have to go to the ER.
Sven Kirsten: At the yearly Easter bonfire on our farm in Germany. Kids are allowed to drink apple schnapps. Because it basically tastes like apple juice, you drink a lot—and then you throw up.
Eben Freeman:12 years old, So Co.
Lance Winters: Lunchtime, junior year of high school (1982). A friend and I raced through a six-pack of Foster’s and then went to chemistry class. I don’t recommend this.
Amanda Smeltz: I actually don’t remember. But one of the worst earliest occasions was in college during my bf’s 21st birthday. It was like we were in a horrible race for who should get blotto first. I drank most of a bottle of Absolut Vanilla out of spite.
Will Elliott: Pernod Pastis, which is meant for cooking. I was about 12. My mom got a little upset and had to use way more fennel and anise than she anticipated. I argued that she was overreacting.
Chris Hannah: Senior week, Outerbanks, North Carolina. Woke up outside and just never understood why.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Dale DeGroff: Don’t stop drinking.