We love us a bit of Ms. Franky. A respected face on the New York bar scene, she’s fierce, fabulous and an all-round tonic for all that ails you. As well as her fab bartending skills she’s fluent in French, a fully certified cognac educator, a fearless globetrotter and an absolute dahrling.

We caught up with her to find out about her love of all things cognac, the formative experiences in her life and career, her favourite drinks and her wonderfully eclectic taste in music. Oh, and a burning desire to sing karaoke in Japan.

Tell us about your younger years. What were you like as a child and a teenager?

Even as a child I was very independent. I remember one day, when I was around 10 or 11 years old, I decided I didn’t want to stay at my school; so I walked out one day, went to the office of another school, and told them I wanted to enrol there. The lady at the desk just looked at me and asked, “do your parents know about this?” Of course they had no idea.

In my late teens I moved to another city, and then went to school in France. On both occasions I was completely solo and had no idea where I was going to live until I got there. Those two experiences led to many firsts in my life and left indelible impressions on me; foremost that taste for diving into the unknown and leaving the familiar sense of security behind. It can sometimes be a little scary, but it’s also incredibly liberating.

What drink sums up this time in your life?

White Overproof Jamaican Rum was always around the house when I was growing up. On rare occasions, when I was a baby, my mother used to give me a teaspoon of it to help me get to sleep. 

What song sums up this time in your life?

I’ve always loved the urgency and lyrics of Soundgarden’s song, Rusty Cage, and the way it spoke to kids who wanted to break out of their cages, both physically and psychologically. I think Chris Cornell remains one of the most talented and beautiful rock singers of all time. 

How did you end up working in your first bar?

I ended up talking my way into my first bar job. It was a C-list nightclub in Manhattan that had a different theme every night. I told them I had previous bar experience, which wasn’t completely true, although I had been working in restaurant as a server. One promoter at the venue took a liking to me and brought me along to other louche establishments to work their parties, so I ended up working in quite a few of these types of places.

Those were the days of freepouring into plastic cups with all the mixers on the gun, (except the Rose’s and Grenadine, which were in perpetually sticky bottles). This was before customer etiquette was established, drug-addled management was the norm and employees were completely expendable. Although they were the most gruelling, disorganized, and thankless shifts I ever worked, they ended up being great training for the future. I built up my speed, resilience, and no job since then has ever been that much of a challenge (or as lucrative to be honest).

What drink best represents this period of your life?

 The Incredible Hulk. Which included: vodka, soda, splash-a-cran, and all the ‘tinis.

What song best represents this period in your life?

Wicked Game, by The Weeknd. This tune was on heavy-rotation at a high-volume cocktail bar I used to work at in the Meatpacking District. I love the melody and it’s an 11 on the sexy-meter. One warning about this song is you have to be careful of the company you keep when listening to it, as it can make you do things you might regret.

What would you say was one of the turning points in your career?

The first cocktail festival I ever attended was Tales of the Cocktail in 2009. Over the years I have moderated seminars, curated the SEDTalks, been a panelist, part of their Cocktail Apprentice Program, worked events, hosted Spirited Dinners, and Dynamic Duos… and now I’m a member of the Education Committee. I’ve attended and presented other industry festivals since then. I think they’re a great way to connect with inspiring people from around the world and learn from them. 

What drink sums up this time in your life?

It has to be a Vieux Carré. It was one of the first classic cocktails I learned to make and I still love it.

What song sums up this time in your life?

Drop Me Off in New Orleans, by Kermit Ruffins. This song was on the playlist at Clover Club leading up to my first Tales. I’d been to New Orleans twice before, but I was particularly excited this time because I felt that this trip was going to lead to some new and exciting developments in my career, which turned out to be the case.

When was your first cocktail competition?

In 2012, I competed in my first international competition for a gin brand in Cognac, France. I lost by a heartbreakingly narrow margin, but that loss really did teach me a lot, and the next competition I entered that year I won. The prize was a trip back to the Cognac region hosted by the Bureau National Interprofessionnel du Cognac (BNIC). That win put me on the radar and the opportunity to become a Cognac Educator. I became fully certified in 2014. This led to me being asked to work with Pineau des Charentes, which I’ve been doing since 2017. I’m very grateful to all the people who encouraged me and gave me these opportunities to educate and work across two categories that I really believe in.

What drink best represents this time in your life?

It would have to be a cocktail I made for one of those first competitions. It’s a version of the Cappa, and a simple variation of the Martinez. It’s called The Martinelle, and includes: Pineau des Charentes, gin, Génépy, and a dash of absinthe.

What song best represents this time in your life?

Grace Jones’s breezy version of Edith Piaf’s classic song, La Vie en Rose. I believe Grace Jones doesn’t get enough credit for her avant-garde style, influence and overall fierceness.

What was another pivotal moment in your career?

Another positive learning experience for me was my time spent at Le Boudoir. That job came out of nowhere. An industry pal told me about it, I wasn’t even looking for work at the time, but he strongly encouraged me to take the position. I dived right in and created and ran that program, working there three/four nights a week. I hired and trained the staff and then became the prep person, barback, glass washer, mentor, music selector, vibe creator, as well as the bartender. It was definitely challenging, but I’m happy I was able to have all that creative freedom.

What drink sums up your time at Le Boudoir?

I brought in this delicious, crowd pleasing sparkling Rosé, that saved us on many an occasion. On those really busy nights when we were getting our derrières slapped, as I handed people the cocktail menu I would mention this great wine that we served by the glass. Nine out of ten times they’d say, “Oh, I’ll have that!” Le boom! 

What song sums up this time?

One thing we did all the time at Le Boudoir was dance. If you worked there, you would inevitably find yourself dancing with me after the bar had closed. The song Just Do You, by Lord Echo reminds me of those evenings. I love the message of this song: Don’t worry about anybody else, just do you dahling!

What has been one of your most memorable bar and music experiences recently?

There is a song by Shintaro Sakamoto called Don’t Know What’s Normal, in English. The title sums up how I feel about so many things right now: politics, the deluge of media and information and its effect on human interactions and behaviour. The song was also the instigator of a fantastic bar experience I had in Tokyo.


This song came up randomly on a playlist at my last job. I couldn’t get it out of my head, to the point that I developed a far flung fantasy about singing it at a karaoke bar in Japan.

Last year, I wandered into an underground bar in Shinjuku. My entrance was right out of the movies: conversation stopped and all eyes were on me. Fast forward about 15 minutes and I began very hesitantly to sing this song, in Japanese, to an audience of two bartenders and their three friends who graciously encouraged me and cheered every time I sang a verse. It was an incredibly humbling and magical moment that I’ll never forget. That experience was so amazing and perfect I knew things couldn’t get any better and I wanted to remember that moment exactly as it was. So I thanked them, paid my bill, and left right after I had finished singing.

What drink sums up this time in your life?

The exact same drink I had that night: a Japanese Whisky highball with a slice of lemon. 

Quickfire Questions:

If you could only have one spirit that you had to have while stranded on a desert island what would it be?

May I have wine please? I’ll take all the grape juice: Red, White, Orange, Rosé, still, sparkling, natural or supernatural.

If you could only have one cocktail that you could have on your desert island what would it be?

Well, it would have to be a wet gin Martini with a delicate expression of lemon oil, and a big fat olive on the side.

What would be the one song that you would pick to accompany you on your desert island. It doesn’t necessarily have to be one of the previous songs?

This questions seems particularly cruel. I’ve been surrounded by music my whole life. So, I’ve decided to only consider tunes that have been on playlists at bars I’ve worked at within the last three years. I think it would have to be, (They Long to Be) Close to You, by Isaac Hayes. What makes this cover version stand out is not only the arrangement, but the lush, seamless production. His voice is sexy and soothing at the same time, and there are angels singing the back-up parts. The entire song is like one long, gentle caress.

What luxury item would you take with you on your desert island?

A speed boat with an on-call driver and massage therapist. That’s ok, right?

Want more tunes from Ms. Franky. Check out her specially curated playlist here:

By Miles Watson

About The Author

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to our mailing list

First Name Email Address

Subscribe to our mailing list

First Name Email Address