Behind the wood with Marie Maher

In the late ’80s, then-bartender Marie Maher (it rhymes with “bar”)—now Renaissance’s director of F&B, known for her all-fresh mixology programs—survived the rather Dark Ages of American cocktailing, when “men didn’t dare drink pink drinks,” Maher says, referring to Cosmopolitans, “and women were ‘barmaids’ who worked in local taverns or pubs serving shots and beers at best.” And she lived. “That same courage, I hope, is still evident today in the beverage programs I foster and the menus I design.”

On house-made products: “I’m very much in awe of guys like Tobin Ellis [of BarMagic of Las Vegas], making their own syrups. That is a true throwback to the Jerry Thomas days, the pre-Prohibition cocktail days. It’s very nice to see the guys inventing their own, making their own and using their own. That shows great pride.”

On simplicity and consistency: “You can’t put together workable drink programs with complicated drinks that have little value in their execution. They need to make sense and be delivered consistently every time.” On oddball ingredients: “Modern mixologists seem to be looking to find different and esoteric ingredients just to be ‘new.’ The real truth is that great libation satisfaction is rare, but found more often when the simplest ingredients are given comfortable homes in well-balanced drinks that make sense to the consumer on the other side of the wood! Life is complicated, drinks shouldn’t be.”

On women excelling in the beverage world: “We have more taste buds, so why not?!”

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