Like so many of today’s best bartenders, Lynnette Marrero got her start alongside Julie Reiner at Flatiron Lounge. From there she racked up an impressive array of accolades, and has built some of New York’s best cocktail programs, from her work at Elettaria (alongside Brian Miller) to Rye House (with partner Jim Kearns). But it’s her cocktail-adjacent work that has perhaps made an even bigger impact. As founder of the New York chapter of LUPEC (Ladies United for the preservation of Endangered Cocktails) and the co-founder of Speed Rack Marrero has been a leading voice for women’s issues and empowerment in the industry. To date, Speed Rack—and all-female bartending competition in its sixth season—has raised more than $500,000 for breast cancer research. Back behind the bar, Marrero is responsible for the cocktail and spirits program at Brooklyn’s Llama Inn, where she has combined her love of rum and south American spirits with native Peruvian flavors.
So what does Marrero do when she’s not slinging drinks or making the world a better place for all of us? Here, she takes to our Lookbook Questionnaire to share her weirdest cocktail experiment, the worst thing she ever drank and her favorite bar in the world.
What do want to be when you grow up?
I suppose if I had to pin it down, I would spend my grown-up years owning my own upscale cabaret bar and I would connect my former life in theater with the life in the bar.
Best thing you ever drank:
There is this delicious drink with sherry and peach shrub at Sager + Wilde in London. Markus, the head bartender, makes it and it’s just a super delightful, balanced and delicate drink.
Worst thing you ever drank:
I had a variation on a Vesper that used so much orange flower water, I could barely drink it.
First time you ever got drunk:
It was on a Memorial Day weekend and a friend had a party at his house. I had a major crush on this one guy. We were all playing manhunt and I happened upon him making out with a “friend.” I was super upset. I ran into the house and the classic sort of John Hughes film moment happened. The good-looking class jerk that was always too cool, sees I am upset and offers me some shots. I am like, OK, sure, I will take shots of Tennessee whiskey. I am now pretty drunk.
I see my “friend” walk back in with the crush and she and I have some words, which ends in a slap for her. The guy gets upset and punches a wall, which my best friend now needs to explain to his parents on Tuesday, which he did by saying he tripped over the dog.
I am still the only one drunk, and now I can’t walk, so Class Jerk is carrying me around and I proceed to tell him that everyone thinks he’s as a$^&h@$e, but he’s not.
I wake up with a headache, but the party goes down in the yearbook as the party of the year.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
I love lyric-driven music. If I have to listen to it over and over, it needs to have more to it. Lera Lynn is a young artist out of Nashville with a haunting voice and incredible musical arrangements.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
I love to cook. I have a house upstate and I belong to a CSA. I love going to the farm bringing home the variety of vegetables and then creating meals. It is the most relaxed I get.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
I would have loved to know that once I found the right balance of health and wellness, I would have more energy. I have been on a two-year path of finding balance with the industry, especially finding exercise that I truly enjoy. It has improved everything about my life and work.
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
I am still going to make it work, but making a “dirty Martini” using a richer brine solidified to melt into the drink.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
I love hiking and hanging out in the Hudson Valley with my husband.
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
A variation on a Hemingway cocktail with basil.
Your favorite bar:
Mothers Ruin. It is my local, my Cheers. It is what a bar should be.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
One of my most memorable meals recently was at Peumayen, in Chile.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
Negroni, or a wet gin Martini.
Gin and soda. Two limes.
Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Lots of water, two cool to cold showers, more water, alka seltzer, sleep and more sleep.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
I think a lot of cocktails can be reinvented over and over. I personally would say barrel-aged cocktails or smoked cocktails, only because they are often not executed well.
The last text message you sent:
“Oh man! Just landed in Lima, the smell of salt from the ocean is killer. I want ceviche.”