The Five Questions: Stacy Baker co-founder of Served Raw Magazine
November 9, 2010
I’ve been writing for Stacy Baker for quite a few months now. Stacy Baker is the co-founder of the”über–cool” cocktail – food and culture eZine, Served Raw Magazine, from the lovely city of San Francisco.
I love writing for Served Raw because it gives me a forum for my creative, cocktail – driven dreams and my passion for good storytelling.
Stacy constantly tests my creativity and my writing skills. She continues to help me work towards becoming a better writer.
Writing for Served Raw has led to many new opportunities in the spirit – channeling world.
Thank you Stacy. I owe you a glass of Royal Lochnagar.
Here are your Five Questions:
1. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would that be? What would you eat/drink when you got there?
Wow, I like your interview style, no time for the batter’s box, just get in there and swing.
Okay, here goes … I love that ’70s SNL era in New York where storytellers and artists convened and made magic. The Second City crew did it in Chicago. In Chile, Pablo Neruda gathered people from all walks of life, constantly rotating the guest list and agenda, to elevate the social experience. He was a collector of people, stories, art, and incredible life moments.
If I could be anywhere right now, it would a scene much like these, filled with people who wake up with the drive to create. Authors, chefs, mixologists, painters, songwriters … the sideboard would be locked and loaded with an arsenal of spirits, fresh produce and hand-made mixers for completely improv’ed cocktail making (sans vodka or canned/jarred anything). Food … I like lots of little bites of everything, so the menu would basically be an explosion of small plates that are intensely flavorful and memorable. The goal: We’re not leaving until we’re … firing synapses in a whole new way.
2. Do you cook? What is your favorite thing to prepare?
I love to cook. Cooking doesn’t always love me. Perhaps it’s my Pisces nature or some other malfunction of DNA, but I love to create a scene every time I cook, even if it’s a random Tuesday night. Music, candlelight — the whole thing is orchestrated. I guess I figure why bother doing something if you can’t make it magical and memorable, while hiding culinary faux pas along the way. The downside is that my napalm-like cooking style leaves the kitchen looking like a battle scene. My boyfriend, who dutifully takes on the clean-up, is constantly saying things like, “how did you manage to get anchovy paste on the ceiling?” I think of it as a Jackson Pollock approach to cooking.
One of my favorite recipes is from Grant Aschatz, a Maine Lobster with Wild Mushrooms and Rosemary Vapor. It’s a complete mind-blow. I add a crab legs, mussels and fish to create a stew, which you serve alongside a bowl of steaming fresh rosemary. Each bite alone is a taste bud experience, but combined with the scent of the herb, it’s basically a sensory one-two punch of WOW. I recommend garnishing this with a defibrillator or halving the butter.
I’ve never considered myself an amazing cook, but I’m passionate about it and sort of forced myself to perfect the art of entertaining. You know that old game where you add the phrase “in bed” to every fortune cookie you read? I do the same thing with food and drink and the word “party.” You say, “chili crab,” I say “chili crab party.” Four days later, we’ve got six people up to their elbows in chili sauce and Texas toast, literally. That’s been my sink-or-swim method for learning. My partner at Served Raw, Shirley Copeland, is an enabler. (if not the one with the problem) We went through a stretch of weekly “just because” dinner parties where we burned through a ton of new recipes and techniques. These are not the habits of people wearing skinny jeans, so eventually they tapered off.
Other than that, I’m dabbling in udon, gnocchi and risotto. Oh, and steaming mussels in every liquor in the sideboard — that’s on the bucket list.
My liver is my sous chef.
3. What is in your refrigerator right now?
Unfortunately, our refrigerator is sort of a mothership for cocktailing, rather than the place you go to find healthy, nutritious foods. My rationale is that if pleasure is my main driver in life, why waste valuable cooling space on milk or leftover mac ‘n cheese when you can keep it armed and ready for the magic hour.
That said, our fridge is literally an embarrassment of cocktail riches. Here’s the rundown: Three types of home-made pickles (courtesy of a vinegar bender a month ago), four types of sake (we just had a sushi party and I couldn’t figure out which brand to buy at the Japanese market). Basically I bought as many as I could carry, Carpano Antica and Vya vermouths (no explanation needed), Lillet, homemade brandied cherries (these go fast, replenish often), scotch-soaked English cheddar (spirit sommelier Joseph Cassidy told me I could soak this for a year, use the scotch for cooking and eat the cheese for a truly extraordinary experience …
Check back in 40 weeks, I’ll either be in culinary ecstasy or the ER), four kinds of mushrooms (funghi’s Fountain of Youth and a go-to for tapas … I put them in just about everything non-drinkable), several bunches of cilantro (currently experimenting with cilantro cocktails, “experimenting” being the operative word) and a door full of cocktail garnishes and curry pastes.
Note: I’ve just re-read this list and am calling a therapist straight-away. After I make myself a drink.
4. What is your favorite cocktail? Who makes it for you and where do they work? Would you share the recipe with me?
It’s not very original but I’m a Manhattan snob. Rye-forward, Carpano (2 1/2 rye to slightly less than 1 vermouth), extra-chilled with both a flamed orange twist and a brandied cherry — yes, two garnishes. My mantra, “never say ‘or’ when you can say ‘and’… Seriously, try this on as a mantra — it works. Manhattans should always be served in a coupe or micro-glass. If cocktails are being served big-gulp style, I’ll switch to a Boodles martini very dry (as in “don’t bother with vermouth”), served at arctic temperatures with a sidecar of olives that are marinating in the reserve gin on ice.
The extra olives displaces the gin so you technically get a smaller drink that stays cold. It’s not that scientific.
In terms of the “who” behind the “what,” mixologists today are truly creative geniuses. I make it a point to try at least one signature drink off a cocktail menu before going back to my old standby. Or even better, if a mixologist has the time to play, I love when he or she customizes a drink based on your mood, your outfit, your lot in life. It makes the drink experience. There’s really nothing like watching a creator work “in the moment,” especially when their output is a drink.
5. Social Networking brought us together. How do you use Twitter to grow the Served Raw brand? Facebook?
This is such a tough one. I’m not sure anyone has really cracked the code on using social media to grow a brand in a way that’s consistently measurable, scientific, and consistent. What makes something go viral is a random as the Butterfly Effect. That’s why we try to stay core to our DNA. That’s really branding 101. Stay true to your lighthouse, so people know who you are and what you stand for. Our strategies for Twitter and Facebook organically grow out of who Served Raw is as a brand — our lighthouse is about creating unique cocktail and food experiences. This is what we talk about at every touch point, with every expert, enthusiast, etc. The stories, ideas, discussions are centered around our unique POV.
We consider the Served Raw platform to include our site, Facebook, and Twitter and strive to provide a unique experience on each so that they’re mutually exclusive but collectively exhaustive. And again, all our centered on our lighthouse. We look at every story, discussion, post and ask ourselves, “Is this Served Raw?” and if it’s not us, we don’t post, Tweet, or write about it. There’s no content for content’s sake, it’s all purpose-driven and weighed against our design principles: be useful first and foremost.
We respect people’s discretionary time, so utility is our driver.
Stacy, you’re awesome.
Warren Bobrow is a mixologist, chef, and writer known as the Cocktail Whisperer. In 2010, Bobrow founded “Wild Table” for Wild River Review and serves as the master mixologist for several brands of liquor, including the Busted Barrel rum produced by New Jersey’s first licensed distillery since Prohibition.
Bobrow has published three books on mixology and written articles for Saveur magazine, Voda magazine, Whole Foods-Dark Rye, Distiller, Beverage Media, DrinkupNY and other periodicals. He writes the “On Whiskey” column for Okra Magazine at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum and has written restaurant reviews for New Jersey Monthly.
His first book Apothecary Cocktails, was published in September 2013; and immediately went into a second printing. In 2014, he published Whiskey Cocktails. He was born and raised in Morristown, NJ, on a Biodynamic farm.
Warren Bobrow in this Edition
COCKTAIL WHISPERER, Editor
Apothecary Cocktails: Mexican Sleep Cure
Billy Reid: Bourbon, Branch and a Splash of Southern Lore
Blue Hill/Stone Barns: Time Exists in Harmony with Nature
The Cocktail Whisperer asks Anthony Bourdain Four Questions about Scotch
The Five Questions: Andrew Bell, American Sommelier
The Five Questions Catherine Reynolds
The Five Questions: Lincoln Henderson (Master Distiller)
The Five Questions: Natalie West (Foppiano Wines)
The Five Questions: Randall Grahm
The Five Questions: Sustainable Sushi
A Glass of Bourbon, Branch, and History
Midnight in the Bronx: Visit to Hunt’s Point Wholesale Fish Exchange
A Modern Day Absinthe Alchemist
A Summer Cocktail Party for Artie Shaw
Tales of the Cocktail: New Orleans, Louisiana