New York’s tiki-inspired Mother of Pearl is almost as colorful as Jane Danger herself. Having managed the bar program since the restaurant opened in 2015, Danger has a knack for making especially playful drinks, often finished with over-the-top garnishes—from canned cocktails dressed with absinthe-dashed orchids to those topped with upturned bottles of Underberg bitters.
The Danger Zone
Beneath the theatric facade, however, Danger’s drinks stand on their own. Having first started cocktail waitressing at Death & Co. back in 2006, she went on to work behind the bar for Jim Meehan at PDT, under Sasha Petraske at Little Branch and, finally, with Leo Robitschek at The NoMad Hotel before finally settling in at Mother of Pearl.
So what does Danger do when she’s not garnishing, drink-making or—if you happen to catch her—balancing liquor bottles on her head? Here, she takes a stab at our Lookbook Questionnaire to share her strangest hobby, the best (and worst) thing she ever drank and the weirdest cocktail experiment she’s ever attempted. —Lizzie Munro
What do want to be when you grow up?
A TV weather girl, who is a super hero at night that wears white and sliver cowboy boots.
Best thing you ever drank:
I recently had some White Dog straight off the still at Makers Mark. A combination of being in such a quintessentially Kentucky place, tasting the yeast strain (I’m crazy for yeast), then having the first, fresh product. The master distiller Greg Davis took a copper ladle, dipped it in the clear ambrosia and gave my writing partner, Alla, and me a taste. This was our breakfast on a balmy morning. I went back for seconds.
Worst thing you ever drank:
My bar staff under no means is allowed to make this shot when I am around. I will flip out and gag. It’s called a Newport: Fernet Branca, Branca Menta and Laphroaig. Things all enjoyed separately. Together its the worst.
First time you ever got drunk:
The first time I got properly “Party Time U.S.A.” drunk would be when a girlfriend of mine and I threw our first house party. It was the beginning of sophomore year in high school. We had an older friend with a fake ID. She got an array of bevies: Ice House, a 30-pack of Hamm’s beer, Woodchuck flavored cider, Bacardi Limon… We smoked French cigarettes our friend Maureen had brought back from a class trip. We learned how you could smoke pot out of anything, such as a crushed beer can. Somewhere out there is a photo of me holding two Woodchuck ciders with a look of absolute glee.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
This question hurts my soul…
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
I collected state quarters for a while until my boyfriend accidentally used them for laundry. I like to use my glue gun. [I] put sparkles and bows on everything.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
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.
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
Ugh. It’s called my first drink. Some poor fool let me behind the bar at Death and Company while I was a cocktail waitress there. I had been learning about equal-part drinks—Corpse Reviver No. 2, Blood and Sand, Negroni. I thought equal parts of St-Germain, bianco vermouth, Peat Monster Scotch and grapefruit juice was a great idea. I’m pretty sure it made Joaquín Símo flinch.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
Chasing Anne Robinson around to stop her from being naughty at 3 a.m. Or watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with Disco and Petit Jean Luc Picard (cat and dog).
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
Sometimes people remember weird, gross drinks I used to make ages ago. When I get a call for those, I just shake my head and oblige. Amaro slushy or Poo Daiquiri anyone?
Best meal you’ve ever had:
I have had the wonderful opportunity of dining all around the world, [and at] New York’s finest— Eleven Madison Park, The Nomad, Le Bernardin, Shuko, Brushstroke. This being said, I look forward to summer. Having tomatoes from my brother’s garden on toast with mayonnaise, salt and pepper. I’ve been eating this every summer for 30 years.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
Daiquiri or whatever is sent my way.
ROSÉ ALL DAY. Maybe a fine riesling.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
In the summer I do 151 Dark and Stormys. Winter is gin and orange Gatorade. Year round is Underberg with a Bloody Mary to follow, then a cranberry Redbull and Suze. Plus maybe some Advil, ginger juice, peppermint tea and pink gin—heavy on the bitters.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
Sometimes I wish my drinks would. I get sick of making them.
The last text message you sent:
“How is your crankypants?”