I was very excited that I was chosen to explore JC for this particular post. But, I must admit, I knew immediately who I was going to interview. Plus it was the perfect "excuse" to visit my friend at South House for some delicious cocktails (and of course, good company).
Tell us about yourself! Hi! My name's Alyssa Fasciano & I am a proud Hoboken native. We are a rare breed but we do exist. My family laid it's roots down there when they came from Italy & have never left.
How long have you been in the biz? Officially? Haha...I grew up in the business so pretty much as long as I can remember. On the record about 10 years. My family opened a bar in Hoboken called Mikie Squared where I started getting my bearings when I was 19. I ran operations there for about 8 years and it really helped me grow as a bartender! They gave me a lot of creative freedom to experiment there.
What is the best thing about bartending here? It has turned me into a ninja! This place is unlike any other. We are turning out craft cocktails at a pace that I have never seen or experienced before. Customers are fascinated by our cocktails and so you put on a little show, smoking glasses, torching thyme, stirring, shaking, muddling to get it right the first time. There's no room for mistakes or doubt, which I definitely had initially going into this job here. Luckily, I work with the most talented team of people in the industry so they've shaped me to be confident and knowledgeable. I'm super proud to be a South House bartender. It comes with a badge of respect for sure.
The South House menu has some great signature cocktails! Which one is your favorite to make? The Smoked Old Fashioned - for a few reasons. It is my cocktail of choice. Simple, strong, and smooth. Making these are fun because there's a bit of flare with the smoking of the glass with the torch. It always grabs the customer's attention and makes them feel involved in the process. Plus, how cool is it that we smoke the oranges for 4 hours before we make them into a syrup for the old fashioned? I've had several people tell me I "changed their life" with this drink. Happy to convert the vodka soda drinkers any opportunity possible.
(Editor's Note: Melissa's husband is OBSESSED with this drink and watching it be made is pretty awesome too!)
What is your favorite drink to drink anywhere? I've had some really sad old fashioneds at a few places, so I usually will pick a nice smokey scotch like Laphroaig or I really love the super smooth Glenmorangie Nectar D'Or to sip on the rocks. Let's get sentimental...who or what inspires you? Definitely the impact you can have on someone through hospitality. I love making my customers feel at home, remembering their names and their favorite drink. Little things can change a persons whole day. I want you to remember me and want to feel like you can come hang with us any time. I've made so many friends through this job and for that I'm super thankful.
We all try to make our favorite drinks at home, but they just never come out the same! What is your number one tip for every home bartender?
Keep it simple. Less is always more in my opinion when it comes to bartending at home. Good quality spirits, garnishes or fun ice cubes will go a long way. Leave the 5+ ingredient cocktails to the pros. Better to wow your guests with a small batch bourbon or a beer from a local brewery.
Let's play favorites. What are you top liquor choices? Bourbon: Blanton's Gin: Uncle Val's Botanical Gin Scotch: Lagavulin 6 year Tequila: Casa Noble Anejo What are some simple syrups, bitters and garnishes you look forward to using this summer? Lavender syrup! Hibiscus Rose extract! Rosebuds (I love floral cocktails) Candied ginger
Yup, that is Francis' milk bottle. Yup, I had a baby in a bar. Yup, we love it.
I am sure you have TONS, but tell us your craziest story. Guys are always trying to impress a female bartender and sometimes I find it fun to mess with them. One guy in particular was being super pompous and trying to show off in front of his friends for hours. So he asked me if he could buy he and I a round of my favorite bourbon. I poured us Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve 23 year bourbon. He played it cool when his bill came but I'm sure he didn't use that move again hahaha!
How do you cut someone off? Gently. You get more bees with honey when it comes to people who are a little tipsy. I like to have water chugging contests with them to get them sobered up. Getting their friends involved in getting them to take them home is a good move too. Being nasty will only make the situation heated ... if they're being belligerent I always just grab a bouncer and let them do their job so I can continue doing mine.
Alyssa is my favorite bartender, but the entire team at South House is great. They are all so talented, friendly and accommodating. I absolutely recommend visiting for a date night or girls night or what have you! There's tons of space, a delicious menu and some of the tastiest craft cocktails you will ever taste in Hudson County. Visit SouthHouseJC.com
This post is not sponsored, just wanted to highlight an amazing
place for drinks with a pretty awesome mixologist!
Krista is a mom of one adorable little boy & is a born and raised Hudson County girl. She has a passion for Jersey City and for baking. Her delicious breads, Grandma Downtown, are sold in stores and markets throughout JC. Krista shares her love of JC, her favorite spots and stories of raising a family in Hoboken's sister city.