Sommelier Roundtable: What’s Your Favorite Post-Shift Drink?

11 wine pros share their go-to drinks for relaxing after work

Sommelier Roundtable: What’s Your Favorite Post-Shift Drink?
Even beverage professionals have their tried-and-true drinks to end the night. (Getty Images)
Mar 17, 2023

After a long day of work, a glass of wine can be just the thing to help you kick back. But if your work is wine, then how are you supposed to relax? The ritual of having a drink after their shift is still cherished by many in the hospitality industry, including sommeliers. Wine Spectator asked 12 top wine pros across the country what their preferred drinks are for some R&R. While some love a glass of bubbly or other refreshing style of wine, others look to everything from Japanese whisky to classic cocktails to—sometimes —just cheap beer.

Wine Spectator: What’s your go-to post-shift drink?

Damien Graef, wine director at Award of Excellence winner Jean-Georges, Philadelphia

My post-shift drink is cheap beer. I just want something not complicated. I pretty much come home and drink something like Modelo—really lowbrow. Nine times out of 10, I do not want to drink wine. Usually my wife will drink wine with dinner, and I’ll taste whatever is open. Because we try to drink different wines every day, all I want is just a cold, delicious beer.

 In the Sta. Rita Hills AVA, the hills of Domaine de la Côte turn to fractured shale and diatomaceous earth as they rise.
At recently opened NARO at Rockefeller Center, Jhonel Faelnar helps find beverages that fit the restaurant’s new take on Korean dining in the United States. (Charissa Fay)

Jhonel Faelnar, wine director for NARO, Atomix and Atoboy, New York City

For a post-shift drink, beer is definitely something that first comes to mind. Beer is a tonic for the weary professional at the end of the day, and something simple but delicious can really be uplifting. Back Home Beer, a newer beer produced by Zahra Tabatabai, hits the right note with her Persian Lager made with blue salt from Iran. It is thirst-quenching in the best way.

Alexis Percival, managing partner and owner at Ruffian in New York City

Margarita, rocks, salt. Or Champagne, any time anywhere.

Vincent Morrow, beverage director at 2022 Grand Award winner Press, in Napa, Calif.

If it’s not too late, a P.X. carajillo [a coffee cocktail]. Otherwise, the most common is a glass of Etna Rosso. We try to keep our favorites stocked at home.

 A portrait of Yannick Benjamin with a wine glass.
Outside of running Contento, Yannick Benjamin oversees the non-profit Wine on Wheels. (Mikhail Lipyanksiy)

Yannick Benjamin, co-owner and wine director at Contento in New York City

After a long night serving wine at Contento Restaurant, the only thing I am craving is a crisp wine with components of salinity and great depth. Chablis, for me, hits all of those boxes and, in my opinion, is the perfect thirst-quencher after a long evening at work.

Jacob Brown, beverage director at Best of Award of Excellence winner Lazy Bear, in San Francisco

Mezcal Negroni. The spice, the bitterness and smokiness. It is balance at its finest and a great way to reset after a long shift.

Chris McFall, wine director at Grand Award winner SingleThread Farms, Healdsburg, Calif.

I love Champagne. If there’s any opportunity for me to revisit bubbles after tastings, I love it. We have the good fortune to get some cool things. So I always like to have a glass of Champagne. Think I got that from my grandma. It was like a daily treat for her; she’d have a glass of sparkling wine basically every day.

 A portrait of Kristin Courville at Ernestos.
At Ernesto's, Kristin Courville's wine list is filled with the hidden gems of Spain, from unsung varieies to rare Sherries. (Andrew Bui)

Kristin Courville, wine director at Ernesto’s in New York City

These days after work, you can find me enjoying a vino de pasto [an unfortified wine from Spain’s Jerez region] alongside a midnight snack of jamón, aged cheeses and salty chips. And if it’s from De La Riva, or Cota 45, even better! However, I can never go wrong with a gin & tonic—definitely a go-to if there is no wine around.

Robert Stelmachuk, wine director at Best Award of Excellence winner Mott 32 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

A little of that depends on the kind of night I had on the floor. So it’s either going to be whisky, neat—what I gravitate towards depends on the mood (I have quite an array at home), so it could be something peated or Japanese whisky—or probably red wine, or in the summer white wine. Wine is a circumstance for me!

Mathias Goldstein, sommelier at Soda Club in New York City

I have this lovely ritual with a bar across the street from Soda Club, where once a week after my shift I bring them some open wine and they make me a cocktail. I usually go for a G&T because whatever I order they give to me in a pint glass. It’s self-preservation at that point.

If I’m out, it tends to be a boilermaker of a tasteless beer and whatever whiskey strips paint the fastest. If I head straight home, my nightcap tends to be a Black Manhattan, using Averna [amaro] in lieu of vermouth. It’s absolutely delicious and tastes like orange-studded dark chocolate.

Bethany Heinze, co-owner and beverage director at Vern’s in Charleston, S.C.

A glass of rosato or really light chilled red, sipped out of a rocks glass or tumbler.

People beer sparkling-wines whiskey Dining Out Red Wines White Wines Rosé Restaurant Awards

You Might Also Like

In Sicily: A Farmer-Gentleman’s Nuanced Wine World

In Sicily: A Farmer-Gentleman’s Nuanced Wine World

Why isn’t the Spadafora name on the tip of more Americans’ tongues? Lovers of southern …

Mar 23, 2023
The Soave Sisters

The Soave Sisters

From a remote Veneto hamlet, three siblings have become leaders in Italian white wine

Mar 8, 2023
Sommelier Talk: Damien Graef of Jean-Georges Philadelphia

Sommelier Talk: Damien Graef of Jean-Georges Philadelphia

A man of two cities, sommelier Damien Graef shares the wine differences between Philadelphi…

Mar 24, 2023
Wine and Wellness

Wine and Wellness

Science and inspiration for healthy living with wine

Apr 30, 2023
Alt-Nebbiolo, Anyone?

Alt-Nebbiolo, Anyone?

Thomas Jefferson, Barolo and Giuseppe Vaira

Feb 28, 2023
Ali Thomas Takes 'Rosé All Day' To Heart

Ali Thomas Takes 'Rosé All Day' To Heart

The Hampton Water co-founder talks about being a young Black professional in the wine …

Feb 27, 2023