Industry Insiders: Cielo Mo

Over on our Mixology site in the Pros section, we asked the hottest bartenders in New York and Los Angeles to whip up a specialty cocktail while describing their perfect New Year’s Eve. There, you can observe Gisella Alavarez — a.k.a. “Mo” — of Meatpacking District staple Cielo whip up a Paradizo. And here, Mo chats about her vices, the Dalai Lama, and girl’s night on the town.

What do you do? What do you drink? I entertain people, make them drinks, and make them happy. I’m an artist as well. I’m trying to start my own T-shirt company with my artwork on the shirts. I’m also an actress. I don’t drink anymore. I used to drink a lot. I stopped about 10 or 11 years ago. I taste my drinks, but I don’t “drink.”

Where do you go out when you’re not working? I work every night, and I don’t really hang out, but there are some restaurants in Brooklyn that I go to. I have a friend who owns this Jamaican restaurant Brawta — I like to go eat there. I like little neighborhood bars. Like Bombay Grill. That’s a cute place.

How did you get your start? I’ve been bartending for over 20 years. I used to hang out in clubs since I was 14, and became friends with all of the owners. This one guy who owned a club in Germany knew me well and trusted me, so he gave me my first job managing a club when I was 20.

What is your guiltiest pleasure? Smoking. I don’t drink, I don’t do drugs anymore. I did it all, but I gave it up years ago.

What is the worst (most disgusting, worst request, etc.) cocktail you’ve ever had to make? Someone ordered a Jagermeister and Coke the other day. That was pretty bad.

What’s the worst pickup line you’ve ever heard while tending bar? There are a lot of bad ones. The worst was, “Are these eyes real?” I told him no, they’re fake, I just had plastic surgery.

What celebrity — dead or alive — would you like to share a drink with at your bar? Maya Angelou or the Dalai Lama, who probably doesn’t drink.

What’s your ideal barhopping night in New York? The other night I was off, so I went with all my girlfriends to clubs around the Meatpacking district near Cielo. We went to Home, Guesthouse, Pink Elephant, Mansion, Marquee because we know all the people there — the bartenders, managers, et cetera. I go with my girlfriends. Leave the men at home.

Using 3 out of 5 of the following ingredients, make me a dream cocktail: grenadine, pepper, tequila, avocado, lemongrass. I would use tequila, lemongrass, and pepper. I would add a little bit of Triple Sec to sweeten it. I would add the lemongrass and a little bit of pepper and that’s it. Shake it, chill it, put it in a martini glass, and the decoration would be a lime slice. I would call it the Spicy Lime.

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