All photography by Jeff Licciardello
Pamela Wiznitzer has come prepared.
When Jeff and I settle into Seamstress, the Upper East Side cocktail haven where the lively Ms. Wiznitzer works, she barely catches her breath before telling us she’s brought several outfits for us to choose from. Her hair looks freshly blown, she’s armed with a Starbucks cup, and she’s speaking in a raspy, Lauren Bacall voice that makes you want to listen to her tell you about her adventures behind the stick. Pam doesn’t suffer from a lack of adventures. When we ask her what she’s up for the next couple of weeks, she tells us she’s being flown to Torino on behalf of famed vermouth producer, Martini & Rossi.
Our summer plans are suddenly looking a little shabby.
After spending a few minutes with Pam, it’s obvious why any booze producer would want to claim her as a brand ambassador. Yes, she’s a talented bartender. She’s honed her skills at multi-honored venues such as New York’s Dead Rabbit and is now killing it as Creative Director at Seamstress. But she also possesses a focused, well-researched enthusiasm. Just like she’s taken the time to pick out several viable options for our photoshoot, she’s also studious when it comes to her craft. Seamstress’s menu is evidence of that.
The aptly sewing-themed drink list is broken down into four different sections: Patchwork, Overlay, Embroidery, and Lining. Each division hones in on a different concept in the form of multi-layered, intricate cocktails (and mocktails) that are as surprising as they are delicious. Take the Early Bird: Remy 1738 Cognac, Averna, coffee, sherry, and demerara, or the Mortimar & Mauve: Whistle Pig Rye, Chai Vermouth, and Barrow’s Intense Ginger Liqueur. These mixtures make sense when you contemplate them (and of course, drink them), but you probably wouldn’t come up with them yourself. That is, unless you’re as practiced – and studied – as Pam.
Pam has worked in several bars, but she’s as much of an academic as she is a cocktail master. She has two B.A.’s and two Master’s Degrees: a B.A. and M.A. in Political Science, n M.A. in Food science, and another B.A. in Modern Jewish Studies. She learns, she mixes, she writes, she consults. She’s been nominated (and won) a laundry list of booze awards. And luckily for us, she also dresses to the nines.
“I love color,” she declares, looking over her clothing options. “When I first moved to New York, I was so excited to dress like they did in Sex & The City. Then I realized that was out of fashion, but I didn’t care.” Indeed, there’s definitely a hint of Carrie Bradshaw in Pam’s long, flowing skirts, brightly patterned dresses, and daring hats, but Pam’s style looks far less store-bought. While her personal stylist, Patrick Brauss of Topshop, helps her select the daring duds she wears for her many different occasions (judging on a spirits panel, working, traveling across the globe), Pam accents every outfit with story-rich accessories.
Pam leads us outside so we can get a good shot of her extensive jewelry collection. The beads and strings adorning her hands and wrists glitter in the summer sun beating down on Seamstress’ exterior. Each piece comes with an explanation. As she shows us a bracelet from Rhode Island-based company Alex + Ani, she elaborates, “I got this bracelet at an event presented by [cosmetics company] Philosophy. Natasha Bedingfield presented there, and she has a really powerful presence.” She then shows us a small, silver and gold ring. “This is a worry ring my mom gave to me when I was working on my thesis. She could see how stressed out I was, so she gave it to me to help me calm down.”
As we’re snapping photos of Pam standing outside of Seamstress, a delivery man walks up with a huge supply of liquor. Spotting our photoshoot, he seems confused. “You’re in the right place!” Pam assures him with a smile, pointing to the entrance behind her.
This is Pam. She’s utterly sincere and heartfelt in her passions, and she’s a truth-teller. Without a drop of shame, she admits going through periods of hardship and perhaps uncertainty, and excitedly shares moments of happiness and significance in her life. But although she exudes the self-acceptance and general contentment of a stylish yoga instructor, she doesn’t seem to be a whatever happens, happens kind of person. She might appear relaxed in her demeanor, but she’s a businesswoman.
When Pam dons her Seamstress outfit – a sewing apron and sturdy shoes – she looks authoritative. We want to buy the signature drinks she’s created. We want to hear the stories behind them. And yes, we’d like another round.
To learn more about Seamstress, visit their website.