Bartender Crush profiles Chicago bartenders kicking ass and serving their community with passion, creativity and kindness.
On the first snowfall of the season, we trekked over to the Moxy Hotel Bar in the heart of River North, its tall glass windows and lounge atmosphere the ideal place to have a drink and watch Chicago turn into a snow globe. Brimming with mid-century modern decor, neon signs and a vinyl collection your dad would be proud of, there's a lot to love about the Moxy—especially the people behind the bar.
Liz Hitchcock is a bartender at the hotel, whose creativity and passion shines through her friendly customer service—not to mention her ability to whip up any drink of your dreams on the spot. We talked to Liz about her love for "mixing potions" and chatting with the abundance of guests and locals who frequent the hotel bar. Read our conversation below.
LSD: How long have you been bartending?
LH: About 5 years now, I’ve been in the industry for 13 years, but I’ve been bartending for 5 of those now. It’s a lot to learn, I’m constantly learning.
LSD: How did you get involved with bartending?
LH: I was a server at first, and I think it was definitely a necessity for me needing to pay for things while I was in school, and also fast cash. I ended up just falling in love with with bartending.
LSD: What draws you to being a bartender?
LH: I think it’s the mix of hospitality; getting to deal with people face-to-face, and also the creative aspect of it. I can literally make whatever I feel like. If somebody wants something sweet, I can make them something sweet; if somebody wants something bitter, or sippable, or sour, I can do all of those things. Kind of like mixing potions.
LSD: What’s your favorite drink to make?
LH: I would say that the Oaxacan Old Fashion is my favorite drink to make, and also to drink. It’s a really solid cocktail. I like the flashiness in it; because I think part of bartending is entertaining, (the lighting of the peel,) and also it’s a really delicious drink.
LSD: What’s your favorite aspect of bartending/what gives you the most satisfaction?
LH: I would say having people leave with a sense of being fulfilled, or happy. Making sure people have, that one night they chose to go out and come to this bar, make sure they have a good feeling when they leave. There’s a million places to choose from, especially in Chicago, and if they come here, it’s nice to be able to leave a positive impact on their happiness and happy with the choice they made.
LSD: How do you want to impact the bartending community?
LH: I’d love to impact it creatively—I work on my own cocktails behind the bar when it’s slow I actually have one on the menu now. But also environmentally is important to me, trying to work towards getting rid of straws, getting rid of useless garnishes using spirits and companies/brands that are environmentally friendly and conscious of the impact of their practices.
LSD: What’s the most badass thing you’ve done as a bartender?
LH: I don’t know if there’s anything badass, I’ve pushed through a hundred tickets by myself with 2-3 deep around the bar. That’s the most badass thing I can think of. It was a really rough night. I’ve sold around $3,000 worth of Tito’s and sodas within a 2.5 hour timespan. That wasn’t fun either. I don’t think I’ve done anything monumental, but I just think the connections I’ve made are really cool, with the people I serve and the people I serve with.
LSD: Any horror stories or scenarios?
LH: I did slice an artery on my hand last year trying to catch a broken glass. It’s the first time in real life I’ve seen blood squirt across the room. I was on restrictions for 3 weeks but I didn’t feel correct until about 6 months. I also took the tip of my finger off with a mandoline cutter once, that was good. Outside of that, no real horror stories, just the self-injury.
LSD: If you could have a drink with someone famous, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
LH:I feel like Hemingway would be a really good person to drink with- I’d be like “Hey Hemingway, can you make me a Hemingway Daiquiri?” And then we’d have his drink and then we would talk about boys. I’m imagining him being like, “Tell me about your love life.”
Watch Liz make her favorite drink, an Oaxaca Old Fashioned, which she describes as “a riff on a classic Old Fashioned, bringing together the smoothness of tequila and the smokiness of mezcal."