I recently had the pleasure of doing a little email interview with Emily Arden Wells from the blog that's a favorite of mine, Gastronomista, and then was able to meet up for Negronis in Brooklyn. It's so bizarre how you can sometimes feel like you know so much about someone from their work and then all of a sudden realize that you might not be able to pick them out of a crowd. Well, we each spotted the other in our red-lipsticked glory, and I found that she's a woman after my own heart: works hard, plays hard, isn't afraid to speak her mind, and she loves french fries and exercise with equal fervor.
Read on to learn a little more about what she's drinking and has up her sleeve for the future of Gastronomista...
You’re an architect by day. How’d you get involved in the booze world?
I graduated from Architecture School in 2009 at the height of the recession. It was so bad that before graduation the dean got us all in one room to tell us that we might not be able to get a job after graduation, which was in fact the case. It took me about 6 months to get a job, and when I finally did my start date was pushed back, and then the office couldn't even pay me for a few months!
Out of boredom, anxiety, and a lot of excitement about the food world, a foodie friend and I started Gastronomista. It started out as a Food + Art blog, but when she left the website the focus drifted to booze. I come from a cocktail family (my grandmother's parties were legendary), so cocktails always made a lot of sense to me. My first recipes were not very good, but they have improved as I have learned more about the cocktail basics; techniques, proportions, and the art of presentation. It's very funny, I was always (and maybe still am) an over-planner in my architectural career, but I completely fell into the cocktail world and it has become an overwhelming passion.
How does your cocktail work compliment your other work? How do you keep the balance?
At the end of a long day, who doesn't want an opinionated cocktail?
Architecture is seemingly the more creative profession, but it can be very tedious and difficult to make your ideas happen. That said, creating cocktails are the whimsical part of my day, I am able to make beautiful drinks without any of the constraints that limit the creativity of architecture. It is very liberating to make something and get a reaction to it almost instantaneously, in comparison to architecture, which can take years to see a project come to fruition.
Best cocktail you had in 2015?
Old Overholt Old Fashioned. Hands down.
Favorites places to drink in New York City? Close to home? Further away?
Elsewhere: Lost Lake in Chicago is amazing and wonderful, as is the invite-only Office downstairs at The Aviary. I always love a stop into the Claridge's Bar in London, Latitude 29 in Nola, Dram in Silver Plume Colorado, and 1760 in San Francisco. Strangely enough, the bar where I always have a Mai Tai alone is Smuggler's Cove in San Francisco. Perhaps it's my old man bar.
Do you have a current cocktail inspiration?
I'm on a Tiki Tear. I love rum and I really love the presentation of Tiki. Not necessarily the sticky rum nerd bars of tiki past, but new applications of tiki that embody the spirit of escape and excess!
What are you and your husband drinking on a lazy night at home? Presuming that you’re not ALWAYS concocting elaborate syrups and drinks... :)
Negronis, Sazeracs, Daiquiris—the classics. It depends on what citrus or what booze we have around, but I also must admit there are always a few crazy infusions going at any given time!
I loved reading about your spicy dragon fruit margarita inspired by your trip to Cabo. Do you have any cocktail goals for the coming year? New ingredients you’re hoping to incorporate?
That was a fun cocktail! I wanted to create something that would taste like a desert margarita, but was also a fruity tropical drink too!
Oh man, there is always so many ideas bouncing around in my head! This year I want to work with color more, so lots of vibrant fruits and vegetables.
It's difficult to say where lightning might strike next, but I can say that I was really excited about the Hibiki Shiso Julep I made a few months ago and the series of cherry cocktails I created for Saveur. The Cherry Vodka Old Fashioned is a really fun cocktail that is great for summer!
I just got myself a Negroni necklace. So stoked. Do you have more plans for more Gastronomista products?
Thank you! I'm really excited about the necklaces, and I wear my Negroni necklace every day! You have to keep your true loves close to your heart, right??
I have a few ideas rumbling around—I would love to design barware, glassware, and more bar tools targeted towards women. There are too many "guy tools" out there, and us ladies need more options for smart and sophisticated products and accessories! That's really where the idea for the necklaces came from - I wanted to create something for women that wasn't a garish Martini Glass hat!