Some competitors in MCW's kickoff, the Agave Gauntlet: Casa Noble Cocktail Relay, are longtime pals, some are relative newcomers; some gregarious, some a touch reserved: we figured we should level the playing field by helping them, and you, get to know each other a little better a head of time.


Mariah Renz arrived in Madison in 2006, a transplant from the wilds of Ohio, and quickly proved herself a real-deal badass, and major contributor to the Madison cocktail scene. Her work at such legendary joints as Café Montmartre, the notorious and now James Beard-nominated Osteria Papavero, and the Capitol’s iconic cigar bar, Maduro, has led to her current post at the helm of the bar at Julep, the newly-minted Southern whiskey-in-a-tin place to be. We would recommend always agreeing with her.

In under 24 hours this weekend, Mariah competes in our kickoff cocktail competition, leads the Women in the Spirits Industry panel discussion at Cento Friday at 12:30pm, and jets back to Robinia Courtyard with J. Henry co-owner Liz Henry, for the Happy Hour Triple Double.

Place(s) you work + your shift schedule:
Julep: Tuesday-Saturday
Maduro: Christmas Eve

twitter/instagram handle:

Who do you consider a mentor? Most important lesson they taught you?
I’ve learned so much from the great people I’ve worked with over the last decade in Madison.  But if I had to choose one lesson that really put me on the downward spiral to managing a bar it was given to me by the crew at Cafe Montmartre where I worked my first bar shifts. I was told that if I couldn’t do whiskey shots I couldn’t be their friend. Still Friends.

What sensations/emotions does the phrase "personal brand" immediately invoke?
It makes me think of the Axe Body Spray commercials.  A bunch of boys trying too hard to be men and failing horribly.

Favorite work of art:
Snow.  So beautiful.

Tequila: sip neat, or in a cocktail?
Neat, cocktail, shot, cheap, expensive, in Wisconsin or Mexico, I love you tequila.

MSG: Parmesan or Uncut Powder?
Mama taught me to stay away from MSG.

Setting aside lime & orange--what are your go-to flavor combinations for agave-based distillates?
Fruit and spice.

What's your favorite Wisconsin/Midwestern source of acid--something tart/tangy to balance a cocktail?
Cranberries.  They get In Your Head and it’s all you can think about ;)

Over-under on how soon Wisconsin will be wine country:
It might already be wine country but Madison is too sophisticated to drink that juice.

Your favorite tool (bar... or life):
My Shavette “Little Shaver”, I couldn’t crush it without her.

Favorite vessel you've sipped out of:
Water, coffee, fine wines and cocktails all taste better out of my blue metal camp mug.



I was told that if I couldn’t do whiskey shots I couldn’t be their friend. Still Friends.
— Mariah Renz