Welcome to Happy Hour, a new monthly column in which we'll explore Atlanta's bar scene through the eyes of distillers, bartenders, and anyone else who makes their living somewhere in the boisterous world of booze. This month, CL contributor Brad Kaplan spoke with Julian Goglia, beverage director at the Pinewood Tippling Room in Decatur. Salud! — Stephanie Dazey
How did you get into bartending?
I feel like I've been a bartender of sorts for a pretty long time. I worked in compounding pharmacies for over five years. As goofy as it sounds, craft bars and compounding pharmacies are really similar, dealing with ratios and measures in careful consideration. Two years ago, I turned in my notice with no definitive plans, and embarked on a crash course into the food/beverage world. I worked under Jerry Slater of H. Harper Station for a while, and ended up at the Pinewood soon after.
Describe your first experience with a cocktail.
When I was 17, my first roommate had me take a Statue of Liberty shot of Chartreuse. I hate saying that a flaming shot of a [more than 400-year-old] distillate changed my life, but since then I've come to realize that I can't learn enough about the beverage world.
What's your favorite place for a drink in Atlanta?
Honestly, my favorite bar in Atlanta is Bottle Rocket. I live nearby, and they make me feel at home the second I walk in, as any great bar should. I've always believed that bartenders should curate an immediate sense of comfort and hospitality, so I tend to stick to the places where I've built relationships over the years. They're the reason that I got behind the bar in the first place. When it comes to drinking, in my mind, forget about cocktails and fanciness ... I want to drink at a place with amazing service and people that inspire others. Incredible cocktails are always a secondary plus.
Bourbon or rye?
Rye. I've ordered pumpernickel toast since I was a kid.
Birthday cake vodka or whipped cream vodka?
Cake or death! Obviously, cake. But can't I just have whipped cream instead of whipped cream vodka? Covering someone with whipped cream vodka doesn't even sound sexy.
When you hear the following words what do you think of?
Old Fashioned: That video "Shit Bartenders Say." The parts where they muddle fruit. Priceless.
Long Island Ice Tea: ½ ounce, ½ ounce, ½ ounce, ½ ounce, ½ ounce, ¾ ounce, 1 ounce, top with Coke. Garnish with an umbrella and party. Hard.
Ghosts: My loft. I live in a 100-plus-year-old pillow factory.
Which drink do you wish you had invented?
The Sazerac. It's a ridiculous cocktail. I would have added one more step just for the hell of it. It's one of my favorite cocktails, but Jesus ... it just really needs a third glass [two glasses are traditionally used to craft a classic Sazerac], more fire, or a funny garnish.
What are your hopes for the drinking/cocktail scene in Atlanta, and, more specifically, Decatur?
Decatur is undoubtedly a mecca for Southern drinking culture. Between Paper Plane, Leon's, Iberian Pig, and the upcoming Kimball House, I feel like we're surrounded by some of the most amazing and enthusiastic figures in the beverage world. At the Pinewood, we've been hosting bartenders from all over the country every Monday evening, and I would love to see even more bartenders exchanging their experience in a similar fashion. Atlanta is already a great cocktail community, and it just keeps getting better.
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Soon to be shuttered. We ate there last night and the review is spot on!