She's quick and flawless behind the bar and moves with so much grace. Erin Hawley makes it hard to believe she just concocted the complex, yet balanced creation slid in front of me. I got to sit down with Erin to find out a little more about this poised cocktail architect.
Spirit Savvy: Erin, you got to bartend in some pretty great cities.
Erin Hawley: Yes, I started in the business in Raleigh, then NYC and before moving to Asheville, I worked at Halcyon in Austin. I got into bartending to express my creativity and also to meet people. It wasn't until I moved to Asheville, that I really jumped into the craft cocktail scene. Before that, I was perfecting the art of making drinks for a busy bar full of people!
SS: I think you have that down.
Tell me a little about the cocktail scene in Asheville. How does it compare to other cities?
EH: About 2-3 years ago, there really were just a few places in town doing crafted cocktails. The Magnetic Field, with Cynthia Turner behind the stick, inspired the culture to really take off. It's come so far in such a short time. Asheville is unique in that our bartending community is pretty tight knit. We share information and new techniques with each other and there really isn't the competitiveness you might see in other cities. I am also finding that Asheville is really on par with other bigger cities' craft cocktail culture. It's very special and something to be proud of.
SS: What are some trends you are liking these days and some trends you'd like to see go away?
EH: I don't like to use the word trend, as it seems fleeting and I'd like for some of these to stick around. I do enjoy the the more scientific/ molecular path. Thanks to my experience at Nightbell, I was able to learn some pretty cutting edge techniques. I like playing with textures, spherifications, foams, airs, specific ice cutting.... and I like staying super seasonal.
Of course, I'm glad to see the trend of the "girlie drinks" ie. Apple-tinis etc... go away. Customers, especially women, are also more educated about well made cocktails and finer spirits. They expect more.
SS: Speaking of women and cocktails, you have a great ongoing event starting up soon.
EH: Yes, It's called "Girls on Deck" at MG Road. Katey Ryder and I will be designing drinks for the evening, there will be amazing food by Chef Sarah Cousler of the Admiral and Punk Wok and music from talented female DJ's. It starts on Thursday, July 24th and will run each Thursday. Check MG Road's Facebook page for details. It will be fun to showcase all these talented women!
SS: Girl Power!
Erin will also be our featured bartender at Spirit Savvy's next event, Get A Room at the Posh Boutique Hotel, August 15th. More details to come on this Aphrodisiac Affair.
Find Erin Hawley most nights at MG Road and enjoy some of her creative libations as she glides behind the bar.
Here's Erin's recent creation on the menu now at MG Road...