Ellen Clifford: Somms After Dark

Everyone wants to know what the experts are drinking when they’re off the clock. I reached out to sommeliers from around the world to find out what is keeping them lubricated in their after-hours. If I learned one thing from all of these interviews, it is that few somms had a single go-to libation. Their unending curiosity about wine translates equally and admirably into the rest of a sommelier’s liquid life. Here’s what they have in their glasses when they are drinking for fun: Ed Thaw - Owner and Sommelier at Leroy Restautant, London, United Kingdom There really is no set pattern. I’m always looking for something new and like to place myself in the hands of others to break out of established patterns. I’m currently loving Ismael Gonzalo’s amazing wines for MicroBio in Nieva near Rueda. I had an extraordinary visit there last week, seeing their 140-200 year old pre-phylloxera vines and a crazy brilliant aging system. His Sin Nombre under his own label is superb, but really they are all interesting. He’s a true original. I also can’t stop drinking Champagne, which is a far better use than a drug habit. The brilliant wines of Olivier Horiot and his Sève Rosé de Saignée Brut Nature 2010 is just one of many I enjoy. And beer - beer is really the best post-service. Liter bottles are the thing. Particularly the brilliant Serpent—a collaboration between Brooklyn and Thornbridge Breweries—a Belgian-inspired golden ale aged for a year with Cider lees. Tart, funky and yet so elegant. Alisha Blackwell-Calvert - Beverage Director at Reed’s American Table, St. Louis, Missouri Being a big fan of bubbles, I like to drink Cava when I’m off the clock. I enjoy the delicate, bready aromas of Champagne but don’t want to pay those prices everyday, so Cava is a great alternative. Naveran’s vintage Cava is one of the best vintage sparkling wines I’ve found at an everyday price! Oscar Chinchilla - Beverage Manager and Sommelier at Montage, Beverly Hills, California I personally love gin & tonic. Sipsmith is one of my favorite gins, and I usually do it on the rocks with tonic water. They have a sloe gin that is out of this world, and I order it with soda water and a squeezed lemon and orange wedge. However, I like cigars and whiskey as well. I have a weakness for Highland Park Scotch and Macallan. All and all, I should point out that I rarely drink wine after work, unless there is food involved. All that being said, Champagne is something I drink daily. No matter where I go, whether it’s before or after work, I will always have a glass of Champagne. Then I’ll order my gin & tonic. Cristie Norman - Sommelier at Spago, Beverly Hills, California My go-to at a new bar is a Basil Hayden’s old-fashioned. I think it’s a good litmus test of the bar’s approach to their mixology program. If it’s really sweet, likely most of their other drinks will be too. I pay attention to the order that ingredients are added and the way the twist is handled. The small details will determine if I’m going to let the bartender take the wheel for the next one, or if I’ll stick to Tito’s and soda the rest of the night. And I just love Basil Hayden’s Bourbon. Jared Hooper - Wine Director at Faith and Flower, Los Angeles, California I’m open to anything. I love to learn about new wines. I tend to rely on my fellow somms and grab late night food and random awesomeness. When I bring the juice, there’s a good chance it’s Riesling, depending on the food, of course. The last bottle I had was 2015 Weiser Künstler Wolfer Sonnenlay Riesling Kabinett with Thai food. It was amazing. Jenni Guizio - Associate Director of Wine for the Union Square Hospitality Group, New York, New York My favorite thing to drink when off the clock is Champagne. We taste so much Barolo at the restaurants that I’m almost always in the mood to drink something really refreshing outside of work. This has been the year of Marguet “Shaman” Rosé! In terms of value, it’s one of the best Champagnes out there, and it’s my favorite thing to drink on the porch. I also love a good Spritz and have been experimenting a lot at home with alternatives to the classic Aperol Spritz. I also love to make Tiki drinks on the weekend and tend to go all out with the garnishes, glassware and ice for extra fun if friends are over. Kimberly Prokoshyn - Head Sommelier at Scampi, New York, New York What I drink after hours changes depending on what I’m in the mood for. Lately, that has included tried-and-true wines like Jean Foillard Morgon “Cote du Py” 2016, Alain Graillot Crozes-Hermitage 2013 and an Etna favorite Romeo de Castello, Allegracore 2016. Some wines that are newer to me that I’ve also been loving a lot are Rosato-style wines like Fatalone “Teres,” a delicious, dark Rosé made from the second budding of Primitivo. It’s juicy, but with a bite. I’m also loving the Mission from Harrington Wines. Working in California, they have never made the same cuvée twice. This Mission looks like Poulsard, but it drinks like crazy guava-juice-meets-rose-garden and is both snappy and delicious. Josh Nadel MS - Beverage Director for NoHo Hospitality Group and vintner at Gothic Wine in the Willamette Valley, Oregon I drink full flavored, ripe white wines unadulterated by oak - primarily Alsatian and Austrian whites. I also love a good Assyrtiko from Greece and top notch Fiano di Avellino. For reds I drink Northern Rhone Syrah, Oregon Pinot Noir (I do after all make wine there!), Cru Beaujolais and Nebbiolo-based wines from Piedmont. I like to break out a good Aglianico from Taurasi or Bandol when it’s time to bring something with serious muscle. When it’s not wine time, I love drinking Ginjo and Daiginjo Sake, Rye (my go to cocktail is an Old Pal) and Guinness on draft. Russell Senser - Sommelier and Beverage Manager at Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bistro, Las Vegas, Nevada After a long shift of opening and tasting wines from all over the world, I crave bright, boozy cocktails depending on my mood. Chartreuse is my weakness, so I am always a fan of a Last Word with gin. A Vesper is boozy and balanced (equal parts vodka and gin with Cocchi Americano) and one of my go-to’s as well. I rarely drink wine when I’m off the clock, but prefer the gripping acidity of brut nature style Champagne (Ayala produces a great one!) or high octane, ripe Zinfandels from the Russian River Valley! - Ellen Clifford Delectable columnist Ellen Clifford is a WSET 3 and CMS 2 wine professional and comedic actress living in Los Angeles. Her musings on all things wine can be found on her blog Scumptious Gruel and weekly podcast The Wine Situation . You can follow Ellen on Delectable and Instagram at @ellenclifford.

Jean Foillard

Côte du Py Morgon Gamay 2015

Nicely robust and full bodied for a Gamay while also refreshing and enjoyable. Mix of blackberries and ripe plums along with dark cherry, strawberry and a hint of cinnamon. Had slightly chilled with amazing Nomad Pizza in Princeton on a hot summer day. Perfect! — 5 years ago

Keith and Ira liked this


Old Vine Mission 2016

Very pleasant carbonic. Light and fruity with some structure. Excellent chilled. — 6 years ago

Kentucky Springs Distilling Company

Basil Hayden's Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

Remarkably smooth, nicely smokey. Good match for ribs and pulled pork on the grill. — 6 years ago

"Odedi", Shawn and 11 others liked this

Les Pères Chartreux (L. Garnier)

Chartreuse Verte

This was delicious, penetrating, intoxicating. Delicious and dangerous. — 7 years ago


Wolfer Sonnenlay Kabinett Riesling 2016

Certified Ripper. An incredible value and one of the more mineral-driven wines I’ve tasted from the charming and delicate 2016 vintage. They achieved a concentration with Sonnenlay that I haven’t found in a lot of 2016 Kabinett wines thus far. Intensely floral and beautiful wine that shimmers with minerality, lime blossoms, apricot and a touch of petrol. Highly invigorating and charming wine with piercing aromatics and intense flavors. — 5 years ago

Ira liked this

Marguet Père et Fils

Shaman 12 Marguet Champagne Pinot Noir Chardonnay Rosé

Delicious! Bright and lovely up front with nice fruit then a smooth lingering finish. A perfect wine to celebrate turning 40 for the second time. — 6 years ago

Askly Jaws
with Askly
Andreas and Paul liked this



Crazy. Champagne-saison-cider frankenbeer. So damn good. — 7 years ago

Azienda Agricola Petrera Pasquale

Fatalone Teres Puglia Primitivo 2016

A favorite that usurps the place of primitivos as the dark fruit wine made for mushroom and beef stews. This one is surprisingly easy to sip, rosato style wine with lots of funky side mouth. — 6 years ago

Paul liked this

Joseph Swan Vineyards

Mancini Ranch Zinfandel 2003

Yum! Lovely zin that is drinking so fresh and vibrant right now. Confiture, dried red and black fruit, sweet/sour, leather, amaro spices, cinnamon, dried flowers, eucalyptus, white pepper, vanilla, kiss of sweet tobacco. Warm, spice driven, sweet and grainy tannin that have integrated offering a textural presence. Love aged Zin! — 6 years ago

Ira, Tom and 2 others liked this

MicroBio Wines

Correcaminos (Road Runner) White Blend 2016

This is a rose! And it really shines. Textured but light on the uptake, it has beautiful red berry character with tomato leaf, salinity, and a lip-smacking finish that calls for another sip. Excellent match with Moroccan chicken in a tomato-onion-harissa sauce. Superb qpr — 6 years ago