Article By: Brandy Rand
KIRSTEN AMANN, BRAND CHAMPION for FRATELLI BRANCA, LUPEC LADY and WRITER EXTRAORDINAIRE
It’s hard to pigeonhole Kirsten Amann as just one thing. She’s known as the bartender’s best friend in her role as Boston’s brand ambassador for the bitter, cultish Fernet Branca liqueur. She writes a cocktail column in this publication as Pink Lady, her LUPEC moniker, and recently published her first cocktail book. You might find her behind the bar mixing drinks, in front of a microphone singing country music, or calmly twisted in a yoga pose. She does all of this, of course, in her signature red lipstick. Friends know and adore her as “Kitty” and she never takes herself – or anyone else – too seriously. Don’t be surprised if you see her riding a Fernet bicycle down the street (or across a hotel lobby) ringing the bell and waving, a big smile on her face. That is, after all, what makes her so unique in this business.
BRANDY RAND Tell me about your professional background and what you’re doing now.
KIRSTEN AMANN How much time do you have? Ha!
I started working in restaurants when I was 16 and have held a bunch of different professional jobs, including editor at a publishing house and publicist, all the while waiting tables and bartending. I started LUPEC Boston with some other Boston gals in 2OO7 and helped get the USBG Boston chapter up and running in 2O1O. Presently, I am a full time Brand Ambassador for Fratelli Branca. Actually my official title is Brand Champion. Basically, I’m the Boston Fernet girl. And I teach yoga.
BR You recently came out with your first book. Congratulations!
What was that process like?
KA Positively hilarious! The book is titled “The Screaming Orgasm & 69 X-Rated Cocktails”. My friends who own a book packager came up with the idea and asked me to work on it, and I turned the project down at first – “I write about serious cocktails,” I told them. But I was also really broke at the time, so they eventually talked me into writing a proposal. When the book sold I was shocked! I put together the best, funniest book on cocktails with all the tawdry names I could – and it was really fun! The hardest part was choosing the drinks – it’s like, where do you draw the line? What’s too racy for this kind of book? And also, the writer’s block moments were funny. I’m thinking, “What the hell am I gonna write about a drink called ‘Deep Throat’?” Then, laughing to myself that these are my problems. My twin brother was a Navy doctor in Bahrain at the time, and I was at home fretting about this kind of thing? Hilarious.
BR What inspires you the most as a writer?
KA Well, I mostly write about cocktails so I guess the people who are newly enthusiastic and hungry for more knowledge. I love teaching. It’s why I like teaching bartenders and consumers about my nichey Italian brands and why I adore teaching yoga.
BR What’s your favorite cocktail of the moment?
KA Well, I like to call a Fernet with a Champagne back the “Kitty Royale”, so I have been known to crush those. While in Milan a while back learning about Fernet, I ordered that at a cocktail bar, and due to the language barrier I ended up with a Prosecco and Fernet all in the same flute. I was scared to try it but felt too much like a dumb American to send it back. So I tried it and you know what? It’s awesome! Tastes like a classic Champagne Cocktail, only less sweet. Daiquiris have also been a great go-to for me. Who doesn’t need a daiquiri time-out every once in a while?
BR You taught a seminar at the Boston Cocktail Summit on detoxifying geared toward those with drinking lifestyle. What are your top tips for the trade?
KA Oh, I have so many. I swear by Urban Moonshine orange bitters which help keep your body from having to process toxins. Milk thistle strengthens the cellular walls of your liver, also helps with absorption of toxins. I swear to god they work! Also, toss a lemon in your water whenever you can. And eat clean! Especially if you’re someone who would never drink, say, an Appletini made with fluorescent apple liqueur. Why oh why are you inhaling processed food?
I know it tastes great sometimes but the less wheat, dairy, meat, and sugar you eat, the easier time your body will have processing all the booze you’re dumping down your gullet. And you can simply add things like beets and apples to your diet; both are super good for your liver. And leafy greens – eat those every day and your life will change, I promise!
BR Biggest pet peeve when working behind the bar is . . .
KA “I need a . . .” Oh really, is that what you need? I just think it’s a rude way to ask for something.
BR As an ambassador for Fernet Branca, how have you seen the brand evolve in Boston over the years?
KA It’s certainly grown fast and furious; otherwise I wouldn’t have a job, right? I’m happy to still see the bartenders loving it and calling for it for shots. It was so popular here for so long, I just feel psyched that we can finally support the people here who love it so much and have grown the brand.
BR You seem to be everywhere around Boston these days! How do you manage all your various roles and projects?
KA I’m a Virgo, we’re happiest when we’re working. I do a lot of yoga and meditate whenever I can. It helps balance me out and keep me focused on all the balls that are constantly up in the air. But seriously, there is a tremendous amount of overlap in all the things I’m currently involved with. I get to work professionally with friends as the local Fernet rep, then support the local bar community with USBG and LUPEC stuff. I’m kind of always working, but it also kind of never feels like it.
BR When you’re not working, where would we find you and what would you be doing?
KA Well, since my job involves going to the bar with some of my best friends, it’s tough to imagine doing anything but that when I’m not officially working. I like to practice yoga, relax with a movie and a nice glass of wine, ride my lil’ Fernet bike around or enjoy nature. Simple stuff. And I really love to sing! I’m starting a country music cover band with some friends. Watch out Boston!
BR As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
KA A writer. I also freelance about cocktails and wine and have a few other book projects in the works. I never in a million years dreamed “The Screaming Orgasm” would be the topic/title of my first book! But this is essentially a dream come true.
BR Favorite part of being in the spirits/drinks business is . . .
KA The social aspect. I play and plan parties for a living – how great is that? Also, I love the creativity involved in making up new cocktails and learning from the other amazing bartenders working in the city right now.
BR Where do you like to hang out and have a drink off the clock?
KA Patio, porch, stoop in the summer. In front of someone’s fireplace in the winter. Home drinking – because every bar is a place where I can potentially do business.
BR What is your dream job?
KA I’m pretty sure I’ve got it. And sometimes I have to pinch myself to make sure it’s not all some surreal dream. Being a traveling food and wine writer would be pretty awesome, too. Or someday having babies, teaching yoga, and writing books. We’ll see!
BR Do blondes really have more fun?
KA I don’t know if they all do . . . but I sure do!
from Kirsten Amann’s book
“The Screaming Orgasm & 69 X-Rated Cocktails”
½ ounce of Pisco
½ ounce of St-Germain
½ ounce of fresh grapefruit juice
2 dashes of Peychaud’s bitters
Shake all ingredients over ice
and strain in to a cocktail glass.