The Legacy of Julie Reiner

Raise an International Women’s Day toast to the Drink Masters bar star who inspired a generation of women in the drinks industry

Julie Reiner is a key player in the rebirth of American cocktail culture and an industry mentor. Daniel Krieger photo

Some of us encountered Reiner two decades ago, as the smiling face behind the curved bar at Flatiron Lounge, the first of her pioneering New York craft cocktail bars. Others know the transplanted Hawaiian from her now-shuttered tropical bar Lani Kai or perhaps Pegu Club, which she owned with fellow trailblazer Audrey Saunders. Many others have tippled at Brooklyn’s long-running Clover Club, or at her joyful revamp of vintage Soho bar Milady’s (both which placed on the North America’s Best Bars 2023 list) in Brooklyn.

Yet more fans met her as the voice-of-reason judge on Netflix’s debut 2022 season of Drink Masters (a second season is in the works). Along the way, she became a key player in the rebirth of American cocktail culture and a mentor to its next generation of stars.

I caught up with Reiner recently when her bars popped up for guest shifts at Kimpton Seafire’s Library by the Sea bar on Grand Cayman earlier this year. Reiner and her team gave an inspiring industry talk about mentorship, collaboration and creativity. She unpacked her impactful career while dishing out snacktail-sized Clover Clubs, a drink she helped popularize in the modern age.

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