“Inventory is a nightmare,” says Stephanie Andrews, who recently binned her 600th amaro for Billy Sunday’s 300-bottle library—among one of the largest in the country.
“But I’m kind of a nerd when it comes to this stuff. I love history, and with each bottle, we get to taste that history and talk about it,” she explains, noting that each expression is unique. Some originate from small-scale producers in remote Italian villages where sales only happen door-to-door; others hail from historic producers that have existed for centuries.
Beyond amaro, however, Andrews has a knack for vintage spirits, which occupy their own dedicated section on the Billy Sunday cocktail menu. “It’s a really fun experience—but it can also get really expensive and dangerous,” she says, noting that the scarcity and rarity of decades-old bottles leaves little room for error. “Swapping them into classic builds like our Daiquiri and Old-Fashioned was a natural fit.”
For most of her career, Andrews has been Chicago-based, landing a gig at The Aviary in 2011, where she fully immersed herself in the cocktail space before being approached by the team at Billy Sunday—which coincidentally, was her favorite bar at the time—to join as a bartender in 2015. Since then, she has worked her way up to beverage director, now focusing on the creative vision for Billy Sunday’s second location in Charlotte, North Carolina, in addition to Spindle Bar, an all-day concept in the same venue.
While the next phase of Billy Sunday is still a work-in-progress, Andrews is eager to work with a new palette of seasonal ingredients and producers. Noting the region’s still-balmy temperatures despite the impending holiday season, Andrews is currently toying with the idea of a frozen mulled cider for the menu at Spindle Room.
So what does Andrews do when she’s not managing menus from Charlotte to Chicago? Here, she tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share her favorite stress-relieving hobby, the weirdest drink request she’s ever gotten and her favorite bar. —Tatiana Bautista
Beverage Director of Billy Sunday and Spindle Bar
What do you want to be when you grow up?
One of those Amazon grocery shoppers that spend the entire day in Whole Foods picking out other people’s groceries. Yes please!
Best thing you ever drank:
Brockman’s Gin and Tonic at Atari sitting on the cathedral steps in San Sebastian after a beach with my best friends. BEST DAY EVER.
Worst thing you ever drank:
Ha, it was called a Tokyo Tea at some dive bar in MSP [Minneapolis-St.Paul]. We were talking about bar drinks and the bartender overheard that I had never had a Long Island before and he goes I’ve got something better and insisted I try one. Needless to say, I won’t need to revisit that drink again.
First time you ever got drunk:
It was my high school best friend’s birthday, and we asked our older friend to buy us some beer and vodka. We did shot for shot of Effen black cherry and it all came back up.
If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Malibu by Anderson Paak, no question.
What’s the weirdest hobby you currently have or have had?
Probably rolling pasta at odd hours of the night, when I have had a really bad day or its been super stressful. I would make the dough, roll some pasta, stress eat and the day is all better. I mean the addition of wine while making dough also helped.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
Oh man, everything? I could list about a million things but there isn’t enough room on the page.
Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
Probably trying to take nuoc cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce) and turn it into a cocktail. Needless to say, no one needs that much fish sauce in their drink.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
Usually cooking. I go down these rabbit holes of cooking projects, my kitchen is always in a constant state of disarray.
Weirdest drink request you’ve ever gotten:
A guest once asked me to create a cocktail based on a specific day in April and what she wore that day. I guess it’s a good thing I have a vivid imagination.
Your favorite bar, and why:
Webster’s Wine Bar, the proximity to work and the train (I would take home) definitely helped but it was perfect to unwind after a long shift. The staff there became friends and it was the place for an after-work drink, celebration or a “just because” porron of wine.
Best meal you’ve ever had:
Next in Chicago—their Thailand menu. I still dream about the beef curry dish.
What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
A Gibson or Martini, I just want glasses on glasses of ice cold gin. Or a spritz.
I am all over the place. I like it all. I’m known to indulge in bubbles pretty often.
In a dive bar?
Gin and soda and a pickleback. Bonus when the pickle juice is cold.
Your preferred hangover recovery regimen:
Turning my alarm off, moving from my bed to the couch and ordering some top ramen and Gatorade from goPuff to be delivered to my door. And ALL the ibuprofen and Netflix.
The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
Nothing comes to mind, just make sure it’s a thoughtful addition and not just there to take up space.
The last text message you sent:
“He went out and had breakfast this morning, but he loves to party.” (Talking about my pup, we use the word party in place of asking him if he wants to go outside)