Though she moved to New Orleans just five years ago, Abigail Gullo was quick to become an influential voice within the city’s historic cocktail culture, first at SoBou and now at Compère Lapin.
Like many bartenders, Gullo never sought a career mixing drinks. As a New York-based theater teacher and off-Broadway actress, she began experimenting with cocktails at home, having become fascinated with the stories behind her favorite spirits. Before long, she’d landed a position at Brooklyn’s Fort Defiance, a bar fittingly inspired (at least in hindsight) by the city she would come to call home. From there, her one-time hobby transitioned rather seamlessly into a full-time career, and she into a New Orleans native.
Of course, there’s plenty that she wishes she’d known five years ago. And while her adoptive city has served her one of the best meals of her life, it’s also been the cause of her worst-ever drinking experience. Here, Gullo shares the weirdest cocktail experiment she’s ever attempted, her go-to drink in a dive bar and her best unsolicited dick pic. —Lizzie Munro
What do want to be when you grow up?
Julia Child, but with cocktails.
Best thing you ever drank:
Six-month-old rye whiskey straight from the barrel. It was poured by friend who was making the first batch of rye at his family’s distillery in two generations. There was so much hope and history in that glass.
Worst thing you ever drank:
A Jester Daiquiri on Bourbon Street. I didn’t even feel drunk, just possessed. I tried to make it better by pouring Champagne on it. Would you believe it made it even worse?
First time you ever got drunk:
At my cousin’s engagement party on rum and cokes. I remember spinning my little cousins round and round on the dance floor and then the room kept spinning even when I stopped.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The Joshua Tree. There is a bluegrass version I love.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
I had a minor obsession with ice skaters from the former Soviet Union in the 1980s and ’90s
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
Buy a house in NOLA. It will be cheaper than rent and you will make enough money for the mortgage.
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
I am not too crazy. But I guess it was the Bloody Mary jello mold at a crazy ’60s weird food party my friends tried. Nope. Just nope. My cheese ball came out awesome, however.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
Snuggling with my dog, Ronnie Magic.
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
A virgin Sazerac.
Your favorite bar, and why:
Any bar where there is a good friend on the other side.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
Oh, it’s a little bit everywhere! Bread at Joël Robuchon in Paris, Turtle soup at Commander’s Palace, spinach roll at George’s Pizza on 181st Street, my dad’s salad, my mom’s Boston Cream Pie.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
In a dive bar?
A glass of whiskey.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Movies, making a big meal and snacking on it all day long.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
The last text message you sent:
An unsolicited dick pic. Totally safe for work.