ALL POSTS Interviews Style

Sabering Champagne and the Power of Lipstick and Lingerie | The Realest

Each month we take a lady we admire and give her the model treatment in our photo shoot, The Realest. We bring the wardrobe, stylist, photographer and makeup artist; she brings her anything-but-one-size-fits-all personality and style. Then we all head out on location for a professional shoot that showcases this month’s cocktail and party looks.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The RealestAdrianna Papell beaded crop top and tulle midi skirt | Topshop ball stop hinge bangle and mirror statement ring | Charles David Ivette sandal | Glint lattice beaded minaudière 

Sun Liquor’s Jessica Tousignant can teach you something about spirits, style and enjoying life. In fact, she taught us how to saber a Champagne bottle and mix a Spanish G&T—more on that later. The sales and marketing professional for Seattle-based boutique distillery Sun Liquor has the enviable job of evangelizing the company’s quality gins, vodkas and rums around the globe. Naturally, that brings her in contact with many fascinating industry folks, among whom she easily holds court, at international bars and restaurants.

We had the chance to talk with the energetic traveler and food-and-drink enthusiast over an equally effervescent cocktail. Here’s what she told us about her personal style, beverage predilections and what to do in Cuba, her most recent, favorite destination.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The RealestTell us about what you do at Sun Liquor. 

I’m the vice president of sales. In short, I’m in charge of everything related to sales and education, and I have a hand in marketing as well. I find and establish new markets and support existing ones, which means that I’m out travelling all over the place for roughly half of every year. It’s a quickly growing company, so I really wear a lot of hats, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. A lot of people think I party for a living, but really it’s a lot of behind-the-scenes heavy lifting in order to make that part possible.

What and where are the liquors currently available for purchase? 

We have a lot! Everything we make is organic. We have UNXLD Vodka, Hedge Trimmer Gin, Gun Club Gin, Silver and aged agricole (cane juice) style rums, as well as a line of bitters and our eggnog, which has an astounding cult following. We also have a few special releases coming up that everyone should keep their eyes peeled for: we got our hands on some of the raw honey that comes from the beehives kept on the rooftop of the Fairmont Olympic hotel—very exciting! Nationally, everything can be found at Total Wine & More, and also on all Alaska Airlines flights.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The RealestSachin & Babi Noir embellished jacquard fit & flare dress | Ivanka Trump Carra pump | BaubleBar Kirstel ear crawlers | Kendra Scott Naomi double finger ring

What do you usually wear to work?

Well, it really depends on whether I’m traveling or home in Seattle. I’m hugely into tailored, classic pieces with a little edge. Usually all black everything. If I’m traveling, my suitcase is full of things that can be worn straight from meetings out to have cocktails, since that’s just as much a part of my job as anything else. It’s also important that things can stand up to the rigor of 18-hour days and my sprinting through whichever city I’m in. I always want to look put-together, but I don’t want to have to worry about being distracted by uncomfortable clothing. Diane von Furstenberg is great for that, so is Maggy London for simple daytime dresses. I also wear a lot of silk and tailored linen-silk blends when I’m in warmer weather. It allows me to wear black even while visiting Phoenix in August.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The Realest

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The RealestWhat do you usually wear to go out?

When I go out, I’m always mixing high and low, designer and vintage flea-market finds. If it’s a more casual night out, you’ll usually find me in black high-waist skinny jeans, a gauzy silk camisole or blouse, my leather jacket and Margiela boots. That said, I really love getting dressed up, and I often dig into my closet for my special pieces: my Guy Laroche jacket from the early ’60s, well-tailored little black dresses, swaths of feminine lace and supple silk everything, statement Lanvin earrings from the ’60s. I’d kill for super-fitted wiggle skirts that cut to that perfect point below the knee, and a heel with just enough pitch to be intimidating. And always red lips, every day, no matter what.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The Realest

Adrianna Papell embellished scuba gown | Stuart Weitzman ankle strap sandal 

What is your idea of the perfect evening out? In Seattle or anywhere in the world?

I think one of the very best things anyone can ever do is share a meal and a bottle of wine. It is truly one of the most unifying experiences, no matter where you are or what you’re eating—and has this really fantastic way of breaking down barriers. I’m most happy when I’m connecting with people in a genuine way. Though, to that point, there are few things worse than sharing a meal with abhorrent company.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The RealestWatch our video on how to saber a Champagne bottle.

My absolute standbys in Seattle are Le Pichet, Le Caviste, JarrBar, Damn The Weather, Single Shot and, of course, Sun Liquor since it was my go-to bar long before I was brought on to the company. I think what they all have in common is that they have a low-key, unfettered atmosphere; the people working there have incredible palates and dedication to their craft; and I can have either a raucous time or deep conversation, whichever the evening calls for.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The RealestBaubleBar drusy cuff | BaubleBar cuffs | Panacea drusy beaded bracelet 

In the world? Aye, that’s tough to answer. It’s split between Paris at night and Orcas Island. Walking through the streets of Paris until the wee hours of the morning, either with someone I love discussing the ways of the world or totally alone with my thoughts. There’s something so romantic about being immersed in all that history and beauty without crowds of people and noise. On Orcas, I feel connected to nature and my family history more than anywhere else in the world. A meal at Hogstone is truly one of the best experiences I’ve ever had anywhere in the world, and I’ve been a lot of places. Everyone should do the chef’s tasting with the wine pairing and just trust them.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The Realest

Shiraleah embellished clutch

You recently went to Cuba. Do you have any suggestions for would-be travelers there?

Yes! A lot of restaurants are opening in people’s homes and art is such a paramount part of the culture. Havana has so much life, and if you simply follow a guide book you’re going to miss the point. Find the flea market. Visit Somos Cuba in old Havana; it’s owned by a young couple that wakes up every morning to get fresh seafood and produce outside of the city. They open for lunch and then dinner. Find someone who will drive you to Cojimar in their huge Cadillac, visit Bodegon las Brisas for lunch then drink cocktails out of pineapples on the beach. Sia Kara is close to Havana Vieja and is a great place for a bite and cocktails. Sit on the patio at Café Madrigal and have cocktails while you smoke Cuban tobacco. But mostly, just try to genuinely connect with the people who live there.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The Realest

Adrianna Papell corded lace sheath dress | BaubleBar delicate double drop earrings 

What’s your cocktail of choice?

This is the most common and hardest question to answer! It totally comes down to the weather and food actually. If I drank as much as the opportunity presented itself, I would never be able to get through a day and would certainly sacrifice my health, so I try to stick with lower alcohol content cocktails. Sherry-based cocktails are my absolute favorite right now. They’re not only delicious and nuanced, they’re also low in alcohol so they don’t blast out my palate. Sherry is so underrated in the U.S.! I really love a good Martinez in cold months and classic daiquiris with agricole rum in the summer…and gin martinis, always.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The Realest

Sole Society crystal minaudière

How would you describe your personal style?

Well, I think clothing is one of the most fun and immediate forms of self-expression, and so I really love playing with it. I’d say my personal style is at once strong and hyper feminine. Rock-and-roll meets old-school Hollywood. I work in a male-dominated field, and so I’m often the youngest and one of a few women if any in the room doing what I do. If I had a dollar for every time I was mistaken as some sort of sophisticated “shots girl.” So clothing as expression is a tricky balance. Thankfully, it’s starting to shift now, but for a long time in our culture I think women, especially women in business, have been told they either have to choose between embracing either their sexuality or their intellect—and that’s absolute, complete patriarchal nonsense. I love turning that on its head and expressing the spectrum of femininity while ignoring those constructs. For me, proper tailoring and fabric quality are paramount and what can make even the most simple, affordable pieces look chic.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The Realest

Eliza J off-the-shoulder knit top and sequin mesh skirt | AGL mary jane flat | Topshop velvet choker 

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The RealestDo you have a favorite article of clothing? Something that always makes you feel great and really put-together?

I don’t know if I’d feel like myself without high heels, red lipstick and a good manicure. With those, I could literally wear anything and feel really put-together. Other than that, I invest in great lingerie; it’s decadent and indulgent, sure, but I could be wearing a men’s jumpsuit and white nurse clogs and still feel sexy if I knew I had La Perla or Agent Provocateur underneath. It’s completely psychological, and it works.

Which dress from the shoot was your favorite?

A fuller skirt is not usually my go-to, but I loved the little off-the-shoulder black top with the embellished black and white skirt. I’ll probably have that outfit in my closet before this article is published.

How to make Jessica’s Spanish Gin & Tonic:

I really love this cocktail because it’s so easy to prepare for large groups at home and has a festive, elegant presentation. The idea here is that your garnishes slowly infuse into the cocktail, making an herbal, nuanced version of the standard we all know. You can get creative with garnishes, but I chose to highlight the botanicals used to make the Gun Club Gin, which is perfect for this cocktail because it’s a dry, botanical spirit, without being too perfumed.

Ingredients:

Sun Liquor Gun Club Gin
Fever Tree tonic water
Grapefruit peel
Cinnamon stick
Nasturtium flower for garnish

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The Realest
Directions:

  1. Take a large wine glass.
  2. Add a cinnamon stick and grapefruit peel to the glass. You want your garnish in first, as it’s what flavors the gin—that’s what makes this a Spanish G&T.
  3. Fill the glass 3/4 full of ice.
  4. Add the gin, 4 ounces.
  5. Add 8 ounces of tonic water.
    Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The Realest
  6. Gently stir the glass.
  7. Add the flower as garnish.

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The RealestImages: Elizabeth Rudge | Styling: Carmella Storniola & Brenna Carlson | Hair & Makeup: Jenny Verador

Jessica Tousignant at Sun Liquor, The Realest

—Britt Burritt