Molly Baz has a signature style that carries through to just about everything she does, from the colors she gravitates toward (bright, primary) to the flavors she cooks with (acidic, salty) to the way she mixes cocktails (Martinis with …everything). The cook, recipe developer, and author became a household personality during her years as a food editor at Bon Appétit and regular appearances on their YouTube channel.
When she left Bon Appétit in 2020 and moved to California, Baz brought a devoted following with her, launching a subscription recipe club on her website, mollybaz.com, while her first book, Cook This Book, became a New York Times bestseller. She’s since launched her own natural wine label as well as a line of kitchen and serving ware with Crate & Barrel, and her next book (the aptly titled More Is More: Get Loose in the Kitchen) releases this October 10. We sat down to chat with Baz about her current projects, how she likes to mix her drinks at home, and her pet peeve when it comes to glassware.
“My favorite thing about hosting and having a pantry that’s well stocked when it comes to beverages is being able to give everyone something different. When I have people over, the first question is always, ‘What do you want to drink?’”
Imbibe: You have such a passion for entertaining; what’s your approach to drinks when you’re hosting?
Molly Baz: I like to be sure that there’s something for everyone. I’m not really a themed-drink kind of person. We keep a heavily stocked bar in terms of base spirits and different liquors, as well as wine, beer, nonalcoholic, sparkling waters … My favorite thing about hosting and having a pantry that’s well stocked when it comes to beverages is being able to give everyone something different. When I have people over, the first question is always, “What do you want to drink?” And I’m incessant—like, do you want wine? Do you want a beer? Do you want a sparkling beverage? Can I make you a cocktail? Are you feeling like a Martini? How about a Margarita?
Basically, I like to run my house like a restaurant or a bar, and the world is your oyster. I pride myself on being able to deliver almost anything. And then as the night goes on, I’ll start to make the rounds with a pad of paper, taking people’s orders because I used to love playing waitress when I was little.
You created your new line for Crate & Barrel with your husband, designer Ben Willett. What was the inspiration behind the line? And what drink pieces were must-haves for you?
I moved from New York from an 800-square-foot apartment to a larger home in California where we live pretty far outside the city. But I’m very sensitive to, and familiar with, the concept of making the most of small spaces. So when I started thinking of what my line of kitchenware and table settings and entertaining goods would look like, I wanted to make sure that everything was aesthetically pleasing to the extent that the prep ware could show up in the dining room as entertaining pieces, and stuff could play double duty.
There’s a seafood tower that people also use for produce or as a snack tower. The ice bucket was designed to be an ice bucket, but it’s just an insulated bucket so I also like to serve roasted potatoes or fried chicken out of it … But then also, because I’m the person who asks, what do you want to drink—you can have anything—I wanted a line of glassware that satisfies all those moments. So we have a wine glass obviously, because I also have a wine brand, and we have a spritz glass that’s slightly larger and designed for ice-filled spritzers. Then we’ve got Martini glasses and rocks glasses, which can double as water glasses. And then mugs. So really every category of beverage was accounted for, because I have a pet peeve about serving a beverage in the wrong glassware.
Do you have a go-to cocktail that you like to mix for yourself at home? And when you’re cooking, is it wine?
Yeah, I’m a big Martini person. In the winter, I make Manhattans, but when it’s not the coldest months of the year I’ll make Martinis. I have a recipe in my upcoming book that is basically a Martini the way I make it—kinda like a kitchen sink Martini and it’s a little different every time. It’s called a Martini Thrice; it has olive brine, pickle brine, an olive, a pickle, and a lemon twist, so you get the best of all three ways. It’s very “more is more.”
Last weekend I was out of cocktail pickles, but I had pickled jalapeños, so I made Martinis with the jalapeño brine and they were maybe the best I’ve ever made. And then I keep myself well stocked on wine. On an average weeknight, it’s typically wine. At parties, we’ll start with cocktails, then open a bunch of wine. If I had to only drink one thing forever, it would be wine.
“I have a very clear POV with the way that I cook and my flavor profiles, and I wanted to create a line of wines that really complemented that.”
What sparked the idea for the wine company, Drink This Wine, and the wines you wanted to offer?
I partnered with Andy Young, the winemaker for The Marigny. He’s been a friend of mine for the last five or six years—I met him when I was working at Bon Appétit, and he was like “that cool winemaker” who was always at our events. We started talking about creating this line of wines called “Drink This Wine.” I have a very clear POV with the way that I cook and my flavor profiles, and I wanted to create a line of wines that really complemented that.
So Andy took my book and took some time to cook his way through it to really understand my palate. Only after familiarizing himself with the way that I cook and the flavors that show up the most—high acid, super herby, very salty—did he feel comfortable creating and blending wines that would pair. He’s the genius behind what blends go into each bottle, but they’re curated by my palate, which he’s super familiar with at this point. In my ideal world, people own my books and are at home cooking through my recipes and they crack open a bottle of the wine and we know it’s going to pair well because it was literally created for these recipes. We have a fourth style coming out this fall, which is a sparkling red—kind of a throw to a Lambrusco, but a bit lighter.
Your new book also releases this October; what can we expect from More Is More?
More Is More, being my second book, is less about technique and more about learning to cook intuitively and learning to think about and understand what ingredients are in a dish and how to optimize and capitalize on them. So a lot of the recipes will teach multiple ways to use one ingredient in a dish—it’s about coaxing as much flavor as possible from the ingredients you have on hand.
A great example is the Fennel on Fennel on Fennel Tortilla, which uses fennel instead of onions in the tortilla by sautéing the bulbs. Then you use the fennel oil to make an aioli, and then it all get stopped with a raw fennel salad using the fronds and stalks. We’re taking one ingredient, and learning everything we can about it, and maximizing the flavor in one dish. So it’s not necessarily a long ingredient list, but it’s a thoughtful way to look at the ingredients you have in your kitchen.
And then there are maybe six or eight beverages in there—some nonalcoholic, a couple of smoothies, and the rest are cocktails. There’s a shaken mezcal Piña Colada. There’s something that I call Yummy Juice, which is a cocktail that we developed during quarantine and drank every single night—it’s like a mash-up of an Aperol Spritz and a Margarita. You’ll encounter them throughout the bookmarked as a “Drink Break.” It’s just a reminder to everyone that it might be time for a drink.