Ok, we get it, you know Pam Wiznitzer … everyone knows Pam Wiznitzer! And for very good reasons, she may very well be the coolest chick in the game. Not only is she incredibly talented but she is also equally funny, sweet, kind and humble.
You might know her from her awesome work as one of the original bartenders at The Dead Rabbit or as President of the USBGNY or perhaps from her incredible work making cocktails at pretty much every event because let’s face it, she might be the most in-demand woman in the business.
She has won many competitions like Louis Royer Cognac’s “Show Me the Proof,” has graced the covers of several industry magazines, roadtripped around the country, and does countless seminars and showcases around the globe.
Oh, and somehow, she found time to work on opening Seamstress with Josh Mazza and Steve Laycock of The Gilroy on Upper East Side and she is totally our forever girl crush in the beverage world – and without further gushing, let’s go Drinking With Pamela Wiznitzer!
Favorite NYC place to hang out over a drink when you’re not working:
There are so many … if i’m drinking in my neighborhood, you can find me at The Penrose, Gilroy or Ryan’s Daughter. When in Brooklyn: Clover Club, Extra Fancy, Floyd’s. And other spots in Manhattan, Amor y Amargo, NoMad, Luceys, Tile Bar, or any place a friend is working.
Favorite go-to drink:
I have a few. If I want something to get the night going, then it’s a shot of mezcal or a 50/50 Tanqueray Martini. Otherwise, I’m a low proof kind of gal: Miller Hi-Life, Lillet Rose on the rocks, Campari-soda, cider with a cognac on the side. But my guilty pleasure drinking is either a Grasshopper or a Brandy Alexander. Just had amazing versions of those drinks at Polite Provisions in San Diego and Bryant’s in Milwaukee.
First job in the industry:
The Columbia Bartending Agency. Laugh it up, folks, but if it were not for my friends teaching the course back in 2005 and pressuring me to sign up, I would have never considered bartending as a career.
I placed in the top 6% of students in the class and got to book out bar gigs through the agency. Not a bad deal as an undergraduate in NYC! Bartending school for life. Thanks Rob Cohan and Tze Chun!
First alcoholic drink you ever had and tell us about the first time you got drunk.
My parents used a plum wine made by Kedem on Friday nights for Shabbat dinner and I was given about 1 oz. of it to make the blessing over the wine. Sweet and low proof. I thought all wine was like that (wrong!). Later when I was a freshman in high school, my uncle in Chicago hosted my family for Passover.
He’s a big wine drinker and kept filling up my glass throughout the night, beyond the normal 4 ceremonial glasses you drink during the Seder. When I started giggling uncontrollably and the room started to spin a bit, I heard my mother’s voice yelling at my uncle for “doing this to my daughter”, I knew I was properly drunk/tipsy for the first time. Oops!
What ingredient are you most excited about right now?
I’m most excited about Vermouths and Eau de vies. Vermouth is such a misunderstood category and it’s exciting to see the public start to once again embrace the spirit in their Martinis and cocktails. I’m a freak about low proof options and Vermouth lends a hand in that area.
Also, Eau de vies are really intriguing to me because I often see this category ignored by many bars when crafting a cocktail list. The main struggle is that this spirit tends to be more expensive, but it can create such an incredible drink. There are some killer ones coming from distilleries such as Clear Creek and St. George that have really blown my mind this past year.
Coffee or tea:
Tea. No coffee for me (too much caffeine). If it’s black, herbal, green or chai, then I’m drinking it. I’m not one for fruity teas and I take it straight. No milk or sugar for this gal. I try to drink at least 1 cup a day, but sometimes two if I need an extra kick.
My gem of a spot is Sullivan Tea & Spice down on Sullivan Street. They have a fabulous selection of teas, salts, herbs, spices and other treats in the store. The owner mark is a great guy and the staff is so lovely.
What’s your hangover remedy:
Two Liquid Advil, water, coconut water, a banana and an extra hour of sleep. Does the trick every time. And sometimes a good yoga class so I can sweat it out a bit.
Favorite person in the industry:
This is so hard! I love everyone so much, but here are a few examples of why I adore this industry:
- Anne Bacerra (cicerone) because she is a kick-ass female in the beer world. You can find her at Blind Tiger
- Ulysses Vidal (Employees Only). I’ve never seen this guy work without a huge smile on his face. Such a class act and a great ball of energy.
- Nadine Proctor because if you want to talk wine, you do it with this gal. She is one of the finest sommeliers that I know with zero pretension and a huge following of fans.
- Lacy Hawkins is a badass female bartender. She works at both Clover Cub and NoMad, has won numerous local Speed Rack titles (Miss Speed Rack NY this year), knows everything about honey and is just a fabulous person. I’m always in awe when I sit in front of her at her bars.
- Kate Gerwin, seriously, is there anything this woman cannot do? She has opened numerous bars in North Dakota, is one of the fastest bartenders in the country, won and international competition last year (Bols Around the World) and is a wealth of knowledge for our industry. Damn girl!
- Tom Richter, there are reasons why bartenders have followings and Tom is certainly a great example of that. His passion for the craft, kindness, and just overall awesome and personable disposition makes him incredible. Not to mention that he owns and operates a killer tonic company.
- Kyle and Rachel Ford. I’ve known the Fords for a long time and it’s been incredible to see how they have single handedly both redefined their brands (Remy Cointreau and Tanqueray). Constantly pushing innovative content, programming, and doing it al very stylishly (seriously, they are the BEST dressed couple out there).
- Eric Job because I think he is secretly our industry’s messiah! You meet him once and automatically become friends with him. He just left the bar scene to become the East Coast ambassador for Olmeca Altos, but whether he is behind the stick or sharing the same side of the bar as you, he has such sincerity for the people in our industry and the places where he works. And for pizza. Always pizza.
- Ivy Mix – because honestly, do I even need to say more?
Best pairing meal ever:
Probably Del Posto. I’ve eaten there numerous times but the best was probably a few years back with my friend Raphael Reyes. We not only did the wine pairing with lunch, but also had a 6-flight Amaro tasting with dessert. Come on, a restaurant that has specialty blown glassware for certain types/bottles of wine? It’s out of this world.
Fave spot for a super chill or date night:
Gotta go with Daddy-O or Swift for a chill night. I used to suggest Swift for many of my first-date spots because if the night went sour, its central enough to many downtown neighborhoods that I could easily slip away and still enjoy a great night on the town (without the date). And Daddy-o is my mecca of a bar.
Hidden NYC gems or dive bars:
I love dive bars! There’s something so simple, anonymous and slightly dingy about them, but they are my favorite. My friends Robby Nelson, Tristan Willey, Ivy Mix and myself like to meet up mostly at dive bars in different parts of town when we go out together.
Gems include Milano (on Houston), Brooklyn Inn, Floyd’s (beer cheese and bocce ball!), Lucey’s Lounge (a late night staple if ever closing down a bar with Eric Job at night), Brady’s (my favorite in my neighborhood), Botannica Bar, 7b.
On the Upper Westside, I will always have a place in my heart for The Heights because it was my college haunt. And the Rusty Knot in the West Village. Love taking people there at sunset on a Monday or Tuesday.
What are you most proud of in your career thus far:
Proving to my friends, family and peers that bartending is a lucrative and rewarding career. I got a lot of flack when I decided to bartend and become involved with the liquor/bar industry as a full-time job. But I was determined to demonstrate why this line of work is one of the best in the world. The friends I’ve made, continual pursuit of knowledge and the passion of this industry is remarkable. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Mentors … whom can we thank (besides you) for your incredible work:
I have a few. Justin Noel is pretty much my biggest mentor. He was one of the first people to open up to me and let me pick his brain, learn from him and answer all of my annoying questions (and even today he still lets me).
He is a wealth of knowledge and one of the most talented people I know in our industry. Other mentors or people I keep as roll models include Dushan Zaric, Julie Reiner, Sother Teague, my father (not in the industry, but we have collaborated on projects and has always been my role model), and Bobby Hiddleston.
There are really countless people who have shaped my career (and continue to provide guidance) but these are just a few.
Straight update, what are you working on:
I was at the Dead Rabbit for 2 years and loved my time there. I recently left and will be opening a new bar and restaurant alongside Steve Laycock and Josh Mazza (Ducks Eatery and The Gilroy) call Seamstress on the Upper Eastside. I’m really excited to connect with the locals and to establish a bar for the residents of the area. Having lived in the UES for 7 years, I know what the people want and need out of a new venue.
This is our opportunity to bring stellar service, cocktails and food to the community. We have a lot of charity initiatives as part of our program and I’m excited to look beyond the glass and bring a new mentality of the importance of our industry to the staff.
As well, I have been re-elected as the President for the USBGNY and am looking forward to strengthening and growing our chapter and to work on some national incentives. And working on finishing my Masters Degree at NYU!