With a long career heading up marketing for coveted brands like Nasty Gal and Nylon, Nicole Williams knows a thing or two about being a badass female entrepreneur. It’s that spirit of self-made success that she taps into for her women-led Made Real vodka, a collaboration with eight female co-creators and Pernod-Ricard that’s distilled locally from wheat and honey in New York State. The brand celebrated its first anniversary in June, and we checked in with Williams to see what she’s drinking both on and off the clock.
What’s your go-to drink?
My all time favorite drink is a Mary Pickford, a Prohibition-era cocktail with pineapple, maraschino and grenadine. I’ve been working on some variations of the classic rum version using our vodka instead. Delicious!
Why did you choose to create a vodka, as opposed to another spirit?
Made Real was created through a collaboration with a variety of women that all shared the same entrepreneurial spirit and drive. And when it came to talking about our drinks, there was unanimous agreement that vodka offered great versatility. We all loved the idea of a quality, smooth and easy-to-drink vodka that you could serve neat or transform into a complex cocktail.
You run a vodka brand, but what do you like to drink outside of work?
I love Made Real and find myself drinking it pretty regularly. However, when it isn’t an option, I’m also a huge fan of rum. I fell in love with Flor de Caña after traveling to Nicaragua two years ago.
Do you drink on the job or usually wait until you’re off the clock?
The line between work and play really blurs in my world, so it’s often that I will have a meeting over drinks or sample new cocktail recipes we’re trying during office hours. But, like a true Made Real woman, I never drink in excess.
What’s your favorite cocktail bars in New York City?
I live above Dick & Jane’s in Fort Greene, so I’m a regular there. In addition, I have an affinity for the living room vibes at Ode to Babel and will often walk there on a nice weekend afternoon, and I host many meetings at the bar at The Beatrice Inn in the evenings.
When throwing a dinner party, what do you start off your guests with?
To start the evening, it’s nice to have something light, refreshing and not too complicated to make for a large group. The honey in Made Real blends well with citrus, so I would serve Made Real with elderflower-rose lemonade and some beautiful dried rose petals for garnish and Instagram-ability.
What seasonal and summer ingredients are you currently mixing with?
Watermelon! Fresh blended watermelon mixed with organic lemonade—so summery.
What’s your guilty-pleasure drink?
A Piña Colada! It’s never appropriate outside of a beach setting, but if left to my own devices, this is what I would order.
What’s your hangover cure?
Not drinking too much in the first place? But if you do, I’m a strong believer in eating before bed as it makes for a much better morning after.