Lacy Hawkins: Smirnoff Ice, Banana Splits & Speed Rack

Badass bartenders are just badass bartenders, full stop! Doesn’t matter their background, heritage, and certainly not their gender. Now that we got that out of the way, let’s go drinking with an extremely talented lady from The NoMad and Clover Club who also happens to be one of the baddest bartenders on the block – or shall we say rack – Lacy Hawkins.

  • 2014 winner of the vino de Jerez national Sherry competition
  • 2015 Pama competition winner
  • 2015 NE regionals World Class Finalist
  • 2015 Beverage Media top mixologists to watch (2013 as well)
  • 2015 NYC Speed Rack winner
  • 2016 NYC Speed Rack winner

Let’s Go Drinking With Lacy Hawkins

Favorite NYC place(s) to hang out when meeting someone for a drink or ten?

I love to stay close to home in Brooklyn when I’m not working. Prospect Heights and Crown Heights have some great restaurants and bars. Franny’s on Flatbush is always a good time. There’s also Two Saints on Nostrand, OFC Branch on Rogers and Bar Dynaco in BedStuy.

Favorite place to take an out of towner for a cocktail?

I absolutely love Nitecap on Essex and Rivington. Taking out of towners there is just an excuse for me to go too. The vibe is always bright, the cocktails are spectacular, the bartenders are incredible and I feel like it’s my birthday every time the disco ball lights up. Seriously, it’s one of my most favorite bars.

I’m more impressed by hospitality, congeniality and the gift of gab than a well-made beverage. – Lacy

What’s your go-to drink order?

When I go out, the first thing I’m drinking is a Negroni. After that it’s a toss up between gin + sodas, whiskey on the rocks or Sauvy B.

First job in the industry?

I actually used to be a bouncer. I worked in this wild 3-level Greek nightclub in Portland, OR and for a while, I was the only female bouncer on staff.  I would frisk all the ladies at the door since they usually tried to smuggle their boyfriends’ drugs or weapons into the club and then I’d roam floors, looking for ‘wastoids’ or troublemakers. I’d go in early to help the bartenders cut fruit and after a while, they asked me if I’d like to train to become a bartender.  The rest is history.

First alcoholic drink you ever had?

Are my parents going to read this?? The first drink I ever had was Tanqueray and warm Dr. Pepper. I stole the bottles from my parents, snuck out of the house and headed over to a friend’s. It should go without saying, but it really tasted terrible. In fact, it tasted so bad that I didn’t even get buzzed and still didn’t drink again for another 3 years.

What were you drinking the first time you properly got drunk?

Smirnoff Ice Green Apple. It’s like a jolly rancher candy covered magical malt beverage. I was spinning like a top and it was the good old days so I probably could’ve taken shots of paint thinner and still would’ve woken up the next morning feeling amazing.

We’re still in the thick of winter, how do you drink for all seasons?

Whiskey all winter! I’ve been drinking my fair share of Old Fashioned’s and perfect Manhattans all winter long. It’s like enjoying a campfire inside an igloo. Although, as it starts to warm up and the flowers start to bloom, I only have eyes for one thing: rosé. Okay, and some Sauvy B. … and some Sherry.

Coffee or tea … and how do you like it?

I like my coffee like I like my women: quiet.

Oh my god, that’s hilariously inaccurate. I do drink at least a cup of coffee a day and I like it strong and black. Birch Coffee on 27th and Madison or Blue Bottle off Smith St. are my pre-work pit stops.

What’s your hangover remedy?

I need an updated hangover remedy!  I am the WORST at hangovers.  I am completely useless and miserable.

It basically goes:

  1. Ginger ale
  2. Soda water
  3. Kombucha
  4. Smart Water
  5. Gatorade
  6. (shuffle and repeat)
  7. Sandwich
  8. Chocolate

Add a lot of wining and groaning and that’s pretty much every hangover I’ve ever had ever.

What cocktail is the benchmark of a good bartender?

Making good cocktails is just like baking or cooking. If you follow the recipe, you’ll make something delicious. And when you follow the recipe enough times, you start to see where you can make some modifications. For me, the benchmark of a good bartender is when they have followed a classic cocktail recipe enough times to be able to see how they can adjust it to their own palate.

Asking a bartender for their favorite Martini or Manhattan or Old Fashioned is a real treat. You’re guaranteed to get a delicious cocktail and it’s probably nothing like what you would’ve ordered.

If someone wants to impress you, what are they pouring / making?

I’m more impressed by hospitality, congeniality and the gift of gab than a well-made beverage. I’ve had some incredible drinks made by terrible bartenders. And one of the best bartenders I’ve ever seen works at the 702 Club and served me cans of Tecaté all night.

Favorite industry folks … shout out time!

  • Joaquin Simo at Pouring Ribbons because he’s one of the nicest people in the world.
  • Tyson Buhler at Death & Co. is a close second.
  • Tyler Caffall aka The Red Beard of Courage” over at Fort Defiance because his drinks are on point and his banter is always saucy.
  • Natasha David is an incredible bartender. She is the embodiment of a swan. Perfectly graceful and poised while working fast and efficient. She appears effortless behind the bar and then the drinks just magically appear in front of you, perfectly cold and always beautiful.
  • Any bartender at Clover Club at any time, ever.  Every bartender there is my favorite.

Best spots to eat when you are drinking, or let’s be honest, drunk?

Barboncino in Crown Heights has delicious everything or Kimchi Taco for when I want to order food and eat it at Washington Commons around the corner.

Barboncino Crown Heights

What’s is your fave spot date night drinking recommendation for all the lovers out there?

Rucola has incredible food and they make a good Negroni. The pasta is always cooked perfectly and their vegetables dishes are wonderful. It’s tiny and intimate, just what I want for date nights.

Hidden or underrated NYC gems?

A few times a year I convince my girlfriend to go to Butter & Scotch with me under the guise of a late night nipper. We both know what’s actually happening. She’ll sip on whiskies and I will order a banana split (which she will have maybe two bites of) and devour the whole thing. It is truly the best banana split in the world.

Butter & Scotch Drunk Bakers

What are you most proud of in your career thus far?

There are so many things that I’m proud of! I want my career to continue building upon itself. Moving to NYC was an incredible risk for me and it was so worth it. Over the last year, I feel like some of my proudest moments are winning the Sherry Competition and also being one of the top three Northeast Regional finalists in World Class and then competing nationally and taking first in one of their challenges. It was my first time entering either of those competitors and it felt really good to do well in them.

Do you have a mentor(s) or someone you look up to in the industry? Who can we thank (besides yourself) for your delicious work?

Mary Bartlett in LA and Beckaly Franks in Hong Kong are two of my best friends and constant inspiration. All of us used to live in Portland, OR and our careers took wildly different paths. Any day that I need inspiration, I just think about what they’re doing in our industry and am simultaneously blown away and motivated.

What made you feel ready for the wild and crazy speed of Speed Rack?

This being the tenth time I’ve competed in Speed Rack, the thing I know most is that you can never be ready. There are just too many variables and unknowns with Speed Rack. Although, I do know that aiming to be ready for Speed Rack will inevitably make you a stronger and more prepared bartender every night of the week behind your own bar.

Lacy Hawkins Speed Rack

What’s your Speed Rack strategy for the Finals?

My strategy is to not get rattled. Just make drinks like you would any night of the week. To have fun, genuinely support every bartender who made it to the finals and trust that I am good at what I do, win or lose.

Are there differences between male & female bartenders?  If so, what do you think they are?

The difference is that nobody is asking male bartenders what it’s like to be a male bartender, they are only asked what it is like to be a bartender. Until we start treating female bartenders like bartenders and not second-tiered commodities, the biggest difference will continue to be the blatant sexism women experience in our industry and its disguise as a compliment or opportunity to promote themselves.

Who is the best industry buddy for a wild night out and where does he or she work?

I don’t even have to think about this one. Leo Robitschek, hands down. He’s also my boss, which means being late the next day is never an option.

If you weren’t part of the crazy hospitality biz what would you be doing?

I’d love to be a travel writer or start a sustainable urban farm program and animal sanctuary for chefs to purchase their eggs/dairy/produce from.

Straight update & shameless plug time, let’s hear it!

I’m at Clover Club on Mondays and Thursdays and at The NoMad on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.

Stop by, I’ll make you some of my favorite cocktails!

Get social, how can we follow your thirsty adventures:

Instagram: @word2lacy
Twitter: @lacyhawkins

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