If Laverne and Shirley had been naughtier, if Thelma and Louise had turned to the bottle instead of a gun, if Patsy and Edina had been younger, hipper and more frugal, they might look like Alie Ward and Georgia Hardstark, the hosts of the Food Network’s newest online show, “Drinks with Alie and Georgia.”
The 12-episode web series — one per week — premiered on September 13 featuring the Peanut Butter and Jealous, a boozy version of the childhood staple.
The two best friends had their first success with the McNuggetini, a mix of vanilla vodka and a McDonald’s chocolate milkshake poured into a martini glass, rimmed with barbecue sauce and garnished with (what else?) a Chicken McNugget. The YouTube video went viral and landed them in the book compilation of “This Is Why You’re Fat.” It doesn’t hurt that they’re two cute girls in vintage dresses getting drunk in the middle of the day.
Their style is retro; their humor, mildly risqué; and their drinks tend toward the absurd, like the Nutcase Fruitcake garnished with a chunk of deep-fried fruitcake. Sort of like disobedient daytime housewives. “Which is ridiculous because we could not be further from housewives,” Alie says. Ultimately, the show is as much about having a best female friend as it is about mixing or drinking cocktails.
How Did This Happen?
They’ve come a long way in a short time, from Alie’s days as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times to Georgia’s gigs as a receptionist and actress. The two are now repped by WMA and working on developing a full-blown TV show. Taking a break from trolling LA’s best second-hand stores (Shireen’s, Jet Rag, Luxe De Ville, American Vintage), Alie and Georgia sat down to talk about their hopes, their dreams and the challenges of using soy sauce in a cocktail.
How did you two become friends?
G: We met through friends. I was living in San Francisco, and when I moved back to Los Angeles, I immediately emailed Alie.
A: She didn’t email me. She MySpaced me. This was in 2005. We had our first friend date, and it was super awkward.
G: I took her to Red Lion, the German sausage and beer place [in Silver Lake]. Now that I know Alie well, I know that it was possibly the worst place to take her.
A: I prefer wine spritzers, I was eating vegetarian for a while and I’m an albino, so I hate eating outside. The combination was totally uncomfortable.
But you became fast friends.
A: We were friends for about a year. Georgia had a job as a receptionist and I had a job at the [Los Angeles] Times. We would message each other about how our dream job would be to have a travel show.
G: “Broads Abroad.”
A: When I saw the posting that a travel show — it was “Food Wars” — was looking for a pair of hosts, we ended up getting an audition.
G: That was the first time we seriously considered turning this friendship into a career. It put some fire in our veins.
How do you come up with your recipes?
G: Pretty much what we’re doing now: shit-talking, laughing and having fun. Sometimes it’s to gross the other person out but sometimes it will turn into “How can we use bacon?” And we’ll think of six ways we can use bacon.
You ended up doing a liquid gingerbread house for the series.
A: Gingerbread dough should have a restraining order against me because I love it so much. We thought we’d try to infuse rum with whatever spices go into gingerbread. We put in some cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, ginger root and let that ferment to see what it tasted like. We were like, “Ahhhh, that smells like gingerbread.” So we added a vanilla cream base and molasses.
G: I’ve always wanted to bake a cookie onto the rim [of a cocktail glass].
You started out doing gross-out drinks. How did the concept evolve?
A: At first it was these two girls doing stunt drinks that were really revolting but funny.
G: But it’s so limiting. We don’t want to be known as those girls who drink disgusting drinks. We want to be more creative.
A: It’s boring. You can’t keep doing that. When Scripps approached us to create more [episodes], we had a ton of ideas that would actually [make drinkable cocktails.]
Gingerbread dough should have a restraining order against me because I love it so much.
G: We’ve always wanted to do a peanut butter and jelly cocktail. Once the idea came to us, it was so simple — and it was what we actually wanted to drink.
I don’t think the appeal of the show is just cocktails.
A: What really caught on is the banter we have together.
G: We know how limiting cocktails are. If we’re going to develop a TV show, it has to be based on more than that. We have the friendship and the banter and the sarcasm as the base instead of it being this flash-in-the-pan, weird-drink thing. We can do a whole lifestyle thing around it. We can do shopping and trying interesting things and even the whole Andrew Zimmern gross-out approach. It doesn’t have to be just cocktails.
A: And we’re pretty opposite.
How are you opposites?
G: In every single way possible.
A: I like wine spritzers, Georgia likes beer. I’m a healthy vegetarian, she’s a bacon lover. Even with guys. I would like the skinny guy in skinny jeans with some shaggy hipster haircut, and she would go for these big, bearded comedy types.
So, Alie, you’d date Pete Wentz and, Georgia, you’d date Zach Galifianakis?
G: Oh my god, Zach Galifianakis so hot! Don’t tell my fiancé.
G: I’m also more ballsy than Alie. It’s this funny thing of me pulling Alie out of her shell and her reeling me back into mine — trying to at least.
A: I’ll say, “Georgia, don’t say anything rude to anyone.” She’ll say, “Alie, stand up for yourself.”
So you shot 12 episodes of the web series and a holiday special for the Cooking Channel.
A: We just got back last week from shooting it in New York. I think it’s going to come out in November. The Cooking Channel, which launched in May, is the Food Network’s hip sibling. I think they’re looking for younger, edgier fare.
G: It’s a 1-hour cocktail special with segments featuring different mixologists and chefs. We’re doing our own segment and the closing segment with Johnny Iuzzini, who’s the executive pastry chef at Jean Georges in New York. He’s got a pompadour and tattoos. He’s like the bad boy of pastry. And Dave Arnold, he’s a molecular gastronomy guy who works with a lot of weird machines and liquid nitrogen.
A: For that, we made a Meshuggeneh Macaroon cocktail, which is coconut rum, coconut milk and egg foam with homemade bourbon vanilla.
G: We ended up garnishing it with macaroon, which is my favorite cookie at Hanukkah.
A: We also did a Nutcase Fruitcake with a lot of different fruit liqueurs.
G: It’s reminiscent of a Long Island Ice Tea, but it’s amazing. It’s the dumbest amazing thing I’ve ever had in my life.
A: And we did a twist on an Old Fashioned. We used candied orange and lemon peels in place of sugar and orange.
What’s with the retro vibe and vintage dresses?
G: I hate current styles. I have an old-timey face. If I want to look cute, I have to accept that and dress for it. Since I was 14, I’ve been obsessed with vintage dresses and clothes. So when we were making these videos, it was natural that we would wear our favorite clothes.
A: The dress I wore for the McNuggetini, I wore to a wedding.
G: Another thing, we filmed the McNuggetini in my grandmother’s vintage kitchen in LA, and we had to fit the aesthetic.
How much drinking do you have to do to get your recipes right?
G: We don’t drink as much as one would think, despite the fact that we had a drink at 2 o’clock today.
A: The hardest are always the savory drinks. The Hari Kari Me Home is like a liquid sushi with a sake base. That originally involved a little splash of soy sauce, which was vetoed. It’s difficult when you’re mimicking a savory foodstuff in a glass. There are a lot of ways you can really go wrong. Georgia’s fiancé has to taste a lot of things. It’s always fun to have a couple people over and do some shaking. It’s like a functional dinner party.
What’s the most you’ve ever spent on a dress for the show?
G: I have a dress hanging in my closet that still has the tag on it. It never completely fit. It was one of those “Oh, I’ll make it fit” or “Spanx” or “I’m going to lose two pounds.” It cost $50. That’s a lot for me.
A: I think the most I’ve spent on a vintage dress is $48. I’m like a guy. I’m thrifty that way. I think there’s this part of me that refuses to take income I could apply toward other things, like retirement, and spend it on really expensive new clothes.
G: I’m really good at thrift store shopping. I wish I wasn’t, but I’m really good at it.
You shot all 12 episodes in three days in your studio apartment. That sounds insane.
A: I had lived in this apartment for a year. It’s a duplex, two studios on top of each other in an old carriage house that was built in 1910. You couldn’t move around in the house without it shaking. My neighbor below me was a total curmudgeon. But the producers at Scripps wanted to shoot in my apartment because I had this beautiful built-in bookcase and they loved the setting. Plus, it’s a free set. So we cleared it with my neighbor.
We shot at breakneck pace, especially since we were doing all the food styling, we had to do all the stills on set and we had a hair and makeup change for each episode.
G: And we had to find a private place to pee in between each episode because we were drinking alcohol the whole time.
A: We saved the last shot for our Halloween episode, which is the Zombie Gut Punch, because it required the most preparation. We were shooting late. We had to get this take. It was maybe 1 a.m. on a Monday night. [My neighbor] was pounding on the door because he could hear us shooting. He was screaming and threatening to call the cops. And after a year of tiptoeing around this apartment and not burping and never having guys over, EVER, because I knew that there was no privacy, I snapped. I threw the door open, and I just screamed a litany of obscenities at him.
G: Alie is not aggressive and doesn’t get into confrontations. And she was in full zombie garb.
A: My hair was ratted into this nest of chaos. I had blood dripping from my eyeballs. My skin was purple and I was wearing a tattered prom dress. My neighbor had no idea that by threatening to call the cops and pounding on my door, I would emerge as the undead, screaming obscenities.
G: I was so proud of her.
A: The next week, I found a new apartment on Craigslist, and I moved.
What advice do you have for anyone else hoping to monetize their friendship?
A: Be friends with Georgia.
My neighbor had no idea that by threatening to call the cops and pounding on my door, I would emerge as the undead, screaming obscenities.
G: Be friends with Alie.
A: This sounds super cheesy but staying true to your voice, following your own impulses and not wondering, “How will this be received?”
G: We were very much ourselves, and that was what stuck. Every video you see of Alie and me, that’s what we’re like in real life, except we’re more vulgar.
A: You’ll stay more genuine to who you are, and weirder things will come out of your mouth.
G: There’s something my grandma always said, and this is my life motto: “Bigger dummies than us.” Bigger dummies than us have made a career out of having fun with our friends. Why the hell not us?