Shanna Mayo got her start behind the stick in Atlanta under the direction of Miles Macquarrie during his days at Leon's Full Service. When Macquarrie left in 2013 to open Kimball House, he tapped his protégé to take over Leon's curated cocktail program, and Mayo continued to build upon the menu with her own creative and whimsical drinks. She has since moved on from her Decatur days with stints running the bars at both Victory Sandwich Bar outposts, their sister The SOS Tiki Bar, and a temporary gig at the The Luminary. These days, Mayo can be found at bitters bar Amer in Inman Quarter as the bar manager and partner. There, she's pulled together a team of bartending whiz kids whose cocktail chops include The Luminary, The Pinewood Tippling Room, and Joystick Gamebar.
If you ask Mayo to describe her cocktail style, the quick and dirty answer is, "All I make are panty droppers." In reality, Mayo describes her drink-making style as prone to bouts of instantaneous inspiration from songs she's digging, food she's craving, and seasonal ingredients that strike her fancy. Want to know where the straight-shooting Miz Mayo drinks, eats, and enjoys herself off the clock around Atlanta? We did too. Find out below.
My neighborhood bar, Estoria.
Estoria or Elmyr. Although, there are much divey-er spots around town.
Happy hour bar/lounge:
Kimball House. Oysters and absinthe.
H. Harper Station (RIP). Hungover or not, it was always tight.
Place for drinking and dining:
Bar where you're a regular:
Running a bar doesn't leave a ton of time for going out. I doubt I qualify as a "regular" anywhere. That being said, the aforementioned bars have always treated me with kindness and warm welcoming every time I've had the pleasure of partaking.
Top three bars not mentioned above:
Out-of-town fave in the South:
The Florence in Savannah.
Go-to cocktail order:
My go-to cocktail order changes so much. Did I just get off a shift? What's the weather like? Do I want something refreshing that I can pound, or something boozy to sip on for a bit? My all-time favorite cocktail is a well-made sazerac. But, if I'm going out to a cocktail bar, I'll typically order the cocktail on the menu that looks the weirdest to me. I love weird drinks. And, if it's a dive, my go-to is always a beer-flavored beer and a shot of whiskey.
Under-the-radar bartender to watch:
Atlanta is doing some cool stuff in the food and beverage scene. There are so many up-and-coming chefs and bartenders who are crushing it. It's really exciting to watch.
Perhaps I'm a bit biased, but I've been working with Matt Welch (now at Amer), aka "Matty Panda," since The Luminary. That dude is such a great, well-rounded bartender. He gets that being a good bartender is more about the guest experience, not how great of a drink you can make. He is a true service-industry professional first, and the fact that he makes a killer cocktail, well, that's just an added bonus. Keep your eye on him, he's gonna do big things.