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.

Alain Graillot

Crozes-Hermitage Syrah 2013

Still just a baby but drinking beautifully! The nose is floral and fruity but on the palate with a bit of air to lessen the tannins it turns into an earthy dirty wine with balanced acids to the tannins. Just lovely. — 4 years ago

Carla, Andrew and 9 others liked this

Les Pères Chartreux (L. Garnier)

Chartreuse Verte

This was delicious, penetrating, intoxicating. Delicious and dangerous. — 4 years ago

St Innocent Winery

Seven Springs Vineyard Pinot Noir

Josh Nadel

Holy shit. This wine is extraordinary. Coming soon to a Bonnes Mares ringer near you. — 5 years ago

Anthony, Delectable and 5 others liked this



Crazy. Champagne-saison-cider frankenbeer. So damn good. — 3 years ago


Old Vine Mission 2016

Very pleasant carbonic. Light and fruity with some structure. Excellent chilled. — 3 years ago


London Dry Gin

Anjoleena Griffin-Holst

Add a little pineapple, lime and cider for a great summer drink — 5 years ago

Serge, Justin and 1 other 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 — 3 years ago

Fattorie Romeo Del Castello

Allegracore Etna Rosso DOC Nerello Mascalese-Nerello Cappuccio Blend 2011

William Allen - Two Shepherds

Straying from Rhone to Etna Rosso - if I made Italian varieties would want it to be like this! Bright cherry note, mouth watering acid and a mix of minerality and soft tannins. Perfect pairing wine — 6 years ago

Deborah, Sondra and 2 others liked this
Deborah Heath

Deborah Heath Influencer Badge

Fell in love w Nerello Mascalese visiting Etna last year. Give me that, & Frappatto from the West side of Sicily-- tart cherry abounds!


Brut Vintage Cava Blend 2011

Fresh apple, floral, minerals, apricot and fennel on the nose. Bracing acidity, lemon/lime, chalk and lemon curd on the palate. Don't have food, but wish I had some oysters.. — 5 years ago

Douglas liked this
Darci Londo

Darci Londo

Ooo I like the pic

Salvatore Molettieri

Vigna Cinque Querce Taurasi Aglianico 2008

Josh Nadel

Taurasi is one of the mega under appreciated & age worthy reds in the vast world of wine. The best of them hold their own with the greats at a fraction of the price. — 5 years ago

Christy, Magno and 1 other liked this