Audrey Saunders got into mixology in one decisive night. While bartending at Brooklyn Heights’ Waterfront Ale House in 1996, she took a seminar with the legendary Dale DeGroff at New York University. Saunders was so enthralled that she approached DeGroff and offered to work for free in exchange for training. By 1997, she was partnering with DeGroff for special events for The Rainbow Room, and in 1999 she was working with him at Blackbird.
Seasoned and ambitious, Saunders became bar manager at Beacon Restaurant and beverage director of The Tonic. In December 2001, she joined The Carlyle as beverage director for the reopening of the hotel’s legendary Bemelmans Bar. Her beverage program has since been voted one of the top 20 bars in the world by Forbes magazine, but it was when she opened Pegu Club that Saunders gave cocktail culture another iconic standard-setter and launched herself into a position of leadership in mixology.
Saunders doesn’t just share her savvy behind the bar. She’s appeared on television and radio shows and been covered in myriad publications, including The New York Times, The Times (UK), New York Magazine, Wine & Spirits, Food Arts, Food & Wine, and Saveur. Awards include “Best Bar 2008” from Cheers Benchmark Awards and “Best American Cocktail Bar” from Tales of the Cocktail in 2009. A tireless mentor, Saunders is on the StarChefs.com Advisory Board, a member of the advisory panel of The Museum of the American Cocktail, and the beverage chair for New York City chapter of City-Meals-On-Wheels, as well as Share Our Strength.