Bartending maverick Steva Casey definitely gives Birmingham a reason to raise a glass. You might have seen her serving up a signature cocktail at our beloved Saturn, or maybe you’ve spotted her behind the bar at The Atomic Lounge preparing a Legendary Sex Panther — a devilish blend of bourbon, rum, bitters and a temporary tattoo on the side. Steva, though modest, has had a heavy hand in shaping Birmingham’s craft cocktail scene. Many cocktail menus in the Magic City have been shaped by her bartending artistry. While other mixologists may only adhere to national trends, Steva pursues her own passions when it comes to craft cocktails — which makes her concoctions that much more original. Steva has been featured in several national publications for her cocktail know-how. She also works on several projects, including International Cocktail Karaoke and Tiki by the Sea. And she is the mixologist and brains behind Swingshift, a pop-up dinner featuring her fabulous drinks paired with culinary creativity from different chefs at each dinner. Read our full interview with Steva to learn about some of her favorite spirits and what she’ll be serving up at this year’s Corks & Chefs on April 28 and 29, 2018, at the 21st Annual Magic City Art Connection. We are delighted to introduce, Steva Casey!
How did you get interested in mixology and contemporary cocktails?
I’ve spent nearly 20 years in the service industry in Birmingham. Once I began to manage the wine program in several restaurants where I worked, it was a natural progress to also manage the bar and in turn I began to learn about cocktails.
How would you describe the current craft cocktail scene in Birmingham?
I think the cocktail scene in Birmingham is growing so much every year. It is incredibly fun and innovative, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.
What is something most people don’t know about bartending?
Bartending is such a multifaceted job. A great bartender is part host, part counselor and part party facilitator all while making drinks. And they’re also the person who has to take the trash out at the end of the night.
What are some of your favorite ingredients to work with and why?
I loved fortified things like — sherries, vermouths and ports. I also love all spirits, but especially Scotch. I think they are ingredients that are intriguing and add great depth to cocktails.
What’s your go-to drink?
Depends on the place, sometimes it’s a Rob Roy and sometimes it’s a shot and a beer.
What sets The Atomic apart from other bars in town?
Feizal [Valli] and Rachael [Roberts], the owners of The Atomic — they have designed a space that will transport you out of Birmingham. It’s an incredibly fun atmosphere with great drinks.
Tell us about Tiki by the Sea and other events you’ve managed.
I plan and produce a Tiki-focused festival for bartenders. Bartenders from all over the country apply to go, and the ones who are accepted meet us in Wildwood, NJ, for three days of Tiki education and events.
What can attendees expect from your demo at this year’s Corks & Chefs event?
We will be talking about tequila and its versatility!
Describe your perfect weekend — where would you go, what would you eat, who would you see, etc.
In Birmingham, my weekend is Monday and Tuesday. So, I would hop over to Good People and grab a beer before heading to a Barons game. Post-game, I would enjoy a drink downtown and maybe a bite somewhere like Roots & Revelry or Café Dupont. And then, I’d finish the night with a beer at Marty’s PM.
There are some great daytime activities like the Birmingham Museum of Art and the Civil Rights Institute that I love. And if you’ve never been to Birmingham, you have to go to Vulcan. I always use going to Vulcan as an excuse to hop down the hill and get a pop from Steel City Pops. I try to see at least one show a week, and we have some fantastic venues, like Saturn, Iron City, The Nick and the soon-to-reopen Syndicate Lounge.
Outside of bartending, what are your hobbies? What would you like to learn how to do?
I’m a pretty avid reader and try valiantly to contribute to a book club when I’m in town. Every year, I set a goal for myself to accomplish. This year, it’s 40 shows. So I’m trying to see at least 40 concerts — or plays or performances.
What are three things you can’t live without, with the exception of faith, family and friends?
I can’t live without books, baseball and belly laughs.
What is your best piece of advice?
Being gracious to other people is the best way to be remembered.
Thank you, Steva! To catch Steva in action, head to Saturn or The Atomic Lounge. Or catch her session on tequila and its versatility at this year’s Corks & Chefs on April 28 and 29, 2018, at the 21st Annual Magic City Art Connection. Get your tickets here.
Thank you to Eric and Jamie Gay of Eric & Jamie Photography for today’s awesome photography of Steva.
Meet more amazing Birmingham women in our FACES archives. Prepare to be inspired!