Sitting in the back corner of a bustling, candlelit bar in SoHo, Manhattan, 22-year-old Rutgers alumna Laura Reilly sips from a fruity alcoholic beverage at a table with two of her coworkers after work. They swap drinks with one another to try a wider palette of cocktails, discussing the beverages in detail. Although they are merely out for fun after a hectic day at work, they are also busy taking mental notes on their drinks for potential future assignments.
For Reilly, work and alcohol are inseparable. As editorial assistant for SuperCall, a website dedicated to cocktails as well as cocktail culture, alcoholic beverages are a core part of her daily work. From industry news to recipes, drinking rituals, and remote distilleries, Reilly spends much of her day writing about a wide range of alcohol-related topics. Her office even contains a few bars filled with alcohol and kegs of beer, and new cocktail concoctions are presented for taste-testing. Given that this is her first full-time, paid journalism job, it may seem to many that she is living the dream. To Reilly, this is yet another stepping stone toward her dream job of travel writing.
Reilly’s first foray into journalism began in high school. Having spent most of her life in Hazlet, New Jersey, she was accepted into Monmouth County’s Communications High School, focused on journalism and communications. The school taught her not only writing skills, but also video and photo editing, which would later prove valuable in landing jobs. She showed promise at a young age as well, winning the Columbia Gold Circle Award for a story in 10th grade.
At Rutgers University, she double-majored in Journalism and Cultural Anthropology with a minor in Religion. Part of the graduating class of 2016, she says one of the most significant and helpful events of her college career was her internship at BBC Travel during her final semester. She worked as part of a small, Manhattan-based team—only three people, plus herself—so she had a wide range of tasks. She researched photography, picked photographs, wrote captions and copy edited. She also experienced a transitional period at the office, complete with a new editor and a revising vision. The transitions proved to be beneficial to her.
“That was cool, because I got to be a part of those decisions, giving my input and doing a lot of research on the competition,” she said about the changes in the office. “It was great.”
Prior to getting her job at SuperCall, Reilly worked as a bartender. She applied for a job at Thrillist Media Group as it was beginning a new venture into cocktail culture with SuperCall. In addition to her education at Rutgers, her previous bartending experience helped land her the job at SuperCall.
Photo caption: Reilly enjoys cocktails such as this one both on-the-job and in her free time. Photo credit: Deanna DiLandro
Her work at SuperCall entails a largely unstructured workday with writers managing their own time. Topics vary widely but are all in the niche of cocktail culture, with some pieces being more educational and others being more pop-culture related. Some of the stories involve travel destinations and cocktail culture from around the world, and Reilly always makes a conscious effort to combine her passion for travel journalism with her work.
“I still want to be a travel journalist, and I incorporate as much as I can at my job at SuperCall,” Reilly says. “Writing about liquor, there’s a bit of an intersection with writing about certain stuff around the world, around the country.” Reilly is able to write stories geared toward travel destinations, such as famous bars and breweries, combining SuperCall’s niche of cocktail culture with her passion for travel journalism.
Her job often allows her to go to bars and do some unique first-hand research for articles. Reilly recalled a fun experience last summer in which she and a co-worker went to a bar and tried nearly their entire menu of alcoholic milkshakes.
Reilly hopes to eventually dig deeper and expand beyond cocktail culture. “I want to start writing deeper about food, deeper about travel writing,” Reilly says. “But, for now, I love this niche. I’m really passionate about drinking as an activity and as a cultural standpoint.” Long term, she hopes to become an editor or producer. She would love to eventually have a television show about travel.
She might not have reached her destination yet, but she’s certainly calling the shots.