After six seasons of judging reality show Top Chef, we all know what celebrity chef Tom Colicchio likes to eat and what he certainly doesn’t like to eat. But when he’s not on TV or behind the stove at one of his many Craft restaurants, what does he like to drink? Bourbon. “Current favorite is Eagle Rare 17-Year-Old,” he says. When we recently spoke to him, the liquor cabinet in his New York City home was full of Kentucky’s finest, including bottles of Black Maple Hill, Buffalo Trace and George T. Stagg. “There’s always Maker’s Mark in here, that’s what I prefer to mix with,” he says. Usually he drinks bourbon with one giant ice cube or in a Manhattan on the rocks. “I don’t like it up,” he says.
He also doesn’t care for vodka. “I don’t drink it at all,” he says. “I never liked it.” (Note to all future competitors: under no circumstances should you ever serve the judges a vodka cocktail.) Up until recently, Colicchio didn’t even drink gin and was reintroduced to it on the first day of the first season of Top Chef. He was understandably a little nervous. “I just figured a little drink to take the edge off might be helpful,” he remembers. The bartender at the restaurant where they were shooting made him a Hendrick’s Gin and tonic. The Scottish spirit has now become his favorite gin. (But for the record, the judges “don’t get drunk” on the set.)
With eight restaurants, 14 ‘Wichcraft sandwich shops and a young family he doesn’t go out often. “When I’m working, usually after I’m done with a shift, I’ll grab a cocktail,” he says. But he’s careful not to overindulge. “The problem with cocktails is the next day,” he says. “I’m 47 now, so I don’t bounce back like I used to.”