A protégé of legendary bartender Dale DeGroff, Julie Reiner has been a key player in the modern cocktail scene for well over a decade. After moving to the continent from her native Hawaii, Reiner began her bartending career in San Francisco in the 1990s, eventually making her way to New York in 1998. There, owing not only to her talent for drink-making but to her acute business savvy, Reiner opened Flatiron Lounge just a few years later, in 2003. With a focus on the classics, Flatiron Lounge was arguably “New York’s first high-volume craft cocktail bar,” writes Robert Simonson in A Proper Drink, noting that it “brought mixology to the masses.”
In the years since, Reiner has had a hand in opening a number of the city’s top bars, from Pegu Club to her own Clover Club in Brooklyn. The cocktail for which that latter bar was named later claimed the cover of her 2015 book, The Craft Cocktail Party, which, echoing the spirit of Flatiron, aims to make classic drinks accessible to a wider audience.
So what is Reiner’s favorite thing to do when she’s not eating, drinking, or drink-making—and what’s her go-to drink in a dive? Here, Reiner tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share her favorite bar, the first time she ever got drunk and the one album she’d listen to on loop for the rest of her life. —Lizzie Munro
What do want to be when you grow up?
A bartender at a Daiquiri bar on the beach.
Best thing you ever drank:
A Tanqueray Negroni. It may be the most perfect cocktail ever created.
Worst thing you ever drank:
A cocktail that a bartender wanted me to help him with for a winter menu. The cream was bad. You can imagine how terrible that cocktail was.
First time you ever got drunk:
I was 14 years old in a park in Hawaii. We were drinking Popov vodka that we raided from my best friend’s parents’ liquor cabinet.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Steel Pulse, True Democracy.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
Stand-up paddle boarding.
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
A non-alcoholic Manhattan.
Your favorite bar, and why:
That bar on the beach that serves me perfectly-made Daiquiris.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
Stone crab, fresh caught in south Florida, with sourdough bread and mustard sauce.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
Something off the menu that they are proud of.
In a dive bar?
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Drink a gallon of water and eat something a with a little bit of grease. Follow up with a nice nap in the afternoon.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
Calling something that you take from one bottle, and put into another bottle, a “house-made” whatever.
The last text message you sent:
“Forgot my keys. Will you let me in.”