What goes together better than food and drinks? Nothing. So, it should come as no surprise that many chefs are quite fond of spirits and cocktails. In fact, we’ve found that a number of the best chefs in the country are more than just enthusiasts; they’re practically obsessed with hard liquor.
Whether they’re collecting rare bottles of whiskey, collaborating with distillers to make signature spirits or offering up innovative drinks in their award-winning restaurants, here are America’s 10 booziest chefs.
And be sure to try their recipes for delicious cocktails and dishes. Let us know how they come out. Cheers!
One of the hottest chefs working today is April Bloomfield, who is famous for her hotspots in New York, including The Breslin and Salvation Taco. And she just took over San Francisco’s beloved Tosca Café with the help of movie star Sean Penn! No matter which coast she’s on, she makes sure her establishments offer a fine menu of cocktails and spirits.
(Photo courtesy Melanie Dunea)
Chef John Currence certainly got our attention by naming his cookbook Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey. The famed Southern chef takes all three items very seriously. While he prefers bourbon on the rocks, he’s also become rather fond of cocktails and shared with us a couple of his favorite creations.
(Photo courtesy Angie Mosier)
Love sipping Margaritas and snacking on guacamole and chips? Well, you can thank this Chicago chef for helping to popularize Mexican food and drinks in America. For years now, Rick Bayless has been a vocal advocate for the cuisine and spirits of our Southern neighbor. And that’s not to mention his award-winning restaurants, Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, and his long-running PBS show Mexico – One Plate at a Time. We got Bayless to share some of his favorite boozy holiday entertaining tips with us. Check them out today!
Thanks to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Ted Allen and the rest of the Fab Five became household names in the early 2000s. But Allen hasn’t stopped working since the series went off the air. He recently won a James Beard Award for hosting Food Network’s popular show Chopped and published the cookbook In My Kitchen, which includes some of his favorite cocktail recipes, including the herbal Campari Açaí Brunch Punch. Allen admitted to us that his favorite spirit is gin, preferably in a simple and refreshing Tanqueray and tonic.
Photo © 2012 by Ben Fink
It’s hard to watch the Food Network and not see Chris Cosentino. But despite pulling 16-hour shifts at his restaurant in San Francisco and filming segments, he still finds time to make drinks at home. The self-proclaimed “gin freak” can’t survive without a good Negroni, and his home bar is stocked with multiple brands of the juniper-infused spirit.
(Photo courtesy Michael Harlan Turkell)
To say James Beard Award-winning chef Sean Brock is obsessed with bourbon would be a serious understatement. From his personal collection of rare half-century-old spirits to the impressive variety of bottlings he stocks in his many restaurants, American whiskey is definitely his passion. Fix a drink and try his Grilled Chicken Wings with Burnt-Scallion Barbecue Sauce, which naturally calls for a bourbon barrel-aged soy sauce.
Read more about Sean Brock here & get his recipe for Grilled Chicken Wings with Burnt-Scallion Barbecue Sauce.
Celebrity chef José Andrés says cocktails and spirits are as important to the dining experience as much as food is. Who are we to argue? After all, Andrés now owns 16(!) restaurants. His spot Barmini in Washington, D.C. serves more than 100 different concoctions, most using molecular-bartending techniques, including an Old Fashioned topped with mezcal-infused cotton candy. But it’s not all high-tech elixirs; Andrés claims his favorite drink is a simple Gin & Tonic!
Our favorite chef in Louisville is former Top Chef contestant Edward Lee, who runs local institutions 610 Magnolia and MilkWood. He also recently published the cookbook Smoke & Pickles, which features recipes for his signature blend of Southern and Korean cuisines. And since Kentucky is now his home, he, of course, loves American whiskey. Lee even teamed up with Jefferson’s Reserve to release a special bourbon bottling.
This New York chef was raised in a food-centric family. But in addition to food, she loves tequila and mezcal, and at her NYC eatery Sueños, she serves 50 different types of agave-based spirits. Torres says that anyone who doesn’t like tequila just hasn’t had the right one yet—we couldn’t agree more!
Marcus Samuelsson may have been born in Ethiopia and raised in Sweden, but he’s now a permanent fixture of the New York restaurant scene. His Harlem restaurant Red Rooster was a sensation when it opened a few years ago and has an impressive bar, taking up a full third of the space.
Think you know the booze?
Let’s start with some basics.