Toby Maloney | Head Mixologist, The Violet Hour

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Industry veteran Toby Maloney has been bartending for 25 years, with an extensive resume that firmly establishes him as both a trailblazer and an educator. “All of the projects I’ve been involved in has produced many world class bartenders and I am so proud to be part of their education,” he says. Currently, Maloney is the beverage director for both Mother’s Ruin and Loverboy in New York, and the head mixologist of The Violet Hour in Chicago (for which he brought home a James Beard Award for “Outstanding Bar Program” in 2015), and The Patterson House in Nashville.

Having acquired a few invaluable skills in culinary school in San Francisco, Maloney would later go on to use them as one of the forerunners in New York’s cocktail revival, working at such innovative institutions as Pegu Club and Milk & Honey. In addition, he was a founding partner and former “philosophical guide” of Alchemy Consulting, and is well-respected for creating not only novel cocktails, but talented bar teams.

So what does Maloney do when he’s not drinking, or drink-making? Here, he tackles our Lookbook Questionnaire to share his best and worst drinking experiences, his go-to dive-bar order and the one thing he wishes he’d known five years ago. —Amy C. Collins

Current occupation:
Nomadic Hedonist. Head Intoxologist For The Violet Hour, Chicago; The Patterson House, Nashville; and Mos Eisley, New York. Barback for Speed Rack.

What do want to be when you grow up?

Best thing you ever drank:
A glass of Tokaji rinsed with Black Maple bourbon made by Jane Lopes at The Catbird Seat.

Worst thing you ever drank:
All the cocktails I didn’t order from Sasha.

First time you ever got drunk:
“Orange Surprise”: a finger from everything in the parents’ liquor cabinet poured into a green plastic thermos plus OJ, chugged behind the ground keeper’s shed, Centennial Junior High School, circa 1981.

If you had to listen to one album on loop, for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Led Zeppelin, Physical Graffiti. That is the easiest question I’ve ever answered.

What do you know now that you wish you’d known five years ago?
Yoga makes your knees stop hurting.

Weirdest cocktail experiment you’ve ever attempted:
Boozy coffee in a SodaStream. I was cleaning that mess up forever.

What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not eating, drinking or drink-making?
The only thing I do when I’m not eating or drinking is sleeping.

Your favorite bar, and why:
The closest one. Duh.

Best meal you’ve ever had:
Something made by a toothless grandma in a night market in Thailand. It cost a dollar.

What’s your go-to drink in a cocktail bar?
A Daiquiri, and a Sazarac.

Wine bar?
The sweetest riesling they have.

In a dive bar?
The crappiest beer and the best whiskey.

Your preferred hangover recovery regime:
Shower Champagne and a shag. Concurrently, whenever possible.

The one thing you wish would disappear from drink lists forever:
The term “Bar Chef.”

The last text message you sent:
“Yeesh, Just saw a bartender fuck up marking a duce with roll-ups.”