Tom Sandoval and Ariana Madix are used to serving up cocktails (and drama) on Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules. Now the real-life bartending couple are helping their fans serve up their own cocktails (drama optional) with their new book, Fancy AF: Drink Recipes from a Couple of Professional Drinkers, co-written by Danny Pellegrino, host of the Everything Iconic podcast.
“We’re coming to San Diego, which I’m really excited about because I love San Diego,” says Sandoval.
PACIFIC chatted with Tom and Ariana ahead of the event to talk trashy Bloody Marys, being a cocktail “MacGyver”, favorite episodes of Vanderpump Rules and more.
How did the concept of the book come together?
TOM: The process was really fun. Definitely tedious at times. When it comes to making cocktails, you can only make about five or so at the most and at one time because after a while, they start to all taste the same. Plus, you start to get buzzed and you’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s great, put that in the book,’ you know what I mean?
What was it like working with your significant other on the book?
ARIANA: It was definitely good to have Danny Pellegrino around almost as a moderator, to keep us on task and moving forward. We have very different working styles, which in the end ended up being a huge benefit to us, but I think in the beginning we had to get used to that. The way that we approach things is different, but I do think in the end, it worked out really well.
TOM: It’s hard for me to schedule creativity, in a sense. I have to be inspired, I’m an in-the-moment kind of person.
ARIANA: (Laughs) Yeah, and I’m like, ‘We have to turn this in tomorrow, so you better get inspired.’
TOM: And as far as the concept of the book goes, we just wanted to do something that was different, that I hadn’t really seen before. We wanted to do not just do really elegant cocktails, but also do light, trashy cocktails. And also wanted to not overwhelm people with recipes. Because people are very visual, so we wanted to make a nice visual, easy-to-understand cocktail book for non-bartenders. A situational cocktail book. (Laughs) A lot of times, you’re in situations where your friend invites you back to his house promising thoughts of grandeur and all these drinks he has, and it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, I got a half a bottle of tequila. I don’t have any mixers.’
ARIANA: So you have to become a “MacGyver” in those moments and just start looking around in the kitchen and start throwing things together, which is how a few of these cocktail recipes came to be.
TOM: Especially when it comes to vodka. I cannot drink straight vodka, so I would be in these situations where we’d have a bottle of vodka, and I’d be like, ‘I gotta find something to mix this with. I cannot drink straight vodka.’
How did Danny Pellegrino get involved?
ARIANA: I did his podcast in February of 2018 and we got to chatting after we recorded and he was asking me, ‘What’s going on? Are you guys writing a book together, what’s the plan?’ I was working on a project of my own that never made it past the proposal stage. When something like that loses momentum, you’re very discouraged. There were like six to seven months where there was just nothing going on and it was discouraging. He really encouraged me to look back into that. And when it comes to literary stuff, it’s so foreign to us. It felt like we were at an impasse there, so I asked him for advice and it turns out, he’s written books before. He’s ghost written books before, and I’m like, ‘I’m not doing the ghost writer thing. I want all of us to be a big part of the writing.’ We went over to his apartment and he opened up his laptop and he had the title, the concept. We were like, ‘This is almost exactly what we wanted that we didn’t know how to express.’
What’s your favorite cocktail in the book?
TOM: I don’t really have a favorite. Probably the most interesting to me is the “Ghost of Mary.” It was a concept that I came up with years ago and finally figured out how to make it and make it easy to make. It’s basically a white, clear, ghost pepper-infused Bloody Mary. I wanted it white because it’s called the “Ghost of Mary.” That was challenging, but I figured out how to do it. It’s probably one of our most complicated drinks to make. It’s time-consuming. But all you have to do is blend stuff up, put it in the freezer overnight and let it thaw through a strainer. It’s not for the person who wants instant gratification. Although I will make a bunch of this mix and keep it for a few weeks. What’s really cool about is it’s probably the most light and refreshing Bloody Mary out there.
What’s your favorite less time-consuming, approachable cocktail?
ARIANA: We have a bunch of margaritas in there that really just requires muddling limes and berries and basil, like for the berry margarita. It’s different and approachable. One, it’s going to get you to push yourself a little bit if you’re used to drinking like, tequila and Sprite. But then, in the trashy section, we have the “Bloody Desperate,” which is the trashiest, yet also the most delicious Bloody Mary ever.
TOM: It’s so good. I imagined, like, a college dorm room, like a kid whose roommate just left to go on a date.
ARIANA: (Interrupts) And by kid, he means 21.
TOM: (Laughs) Well, 21 is a kid to me. Anyway, so his roommate just left to go on a date and he goes to the trash can and pulls out an empty water bottle, grabs some of his roommate’s vodka and fills it up to the first line, fills it to the second line with water. Then he finds three ketchup packets, and then two Cholula packets, he puts the lid back on, he shakes it, pours it over ice. Then he grabs some little pepper packets that his friend got from McDonald’s and puts it on top and that’s a Bloody Mary. And it’s a good Bloody Mary. I’ve had far, far worse Bloody Marys. I always challenge people to try that one.
All-time favorite episode/storyline on the show?
ARIANA: I really like all of my birthdays. I feel like I always have the best birthdays. (Laughs) Those are always my favorite.
TOM: The big kid birthday was really awesome. Nascar, that was really fun. I guess I really liked the whole falling apart in drag situation in New Orleans.
Personally, I’m a fan of any time you guys fight in costume.
ARIANA: Costumed fights are the best fights.
San Diegans can mix and mingle with the pair in person at their book signing on Friday, Jan. 31 at Side Bar nightclub in the Gaslamp from 6 to 8 p.m. The book signing is $30 to attend and includes a signed cocktail book. A two-hour hosted bar option is also available at $60, and Tom and Ariana will keep the party going at the after-party, which is $20. Tickets are available at nightout.com/events/fancy-af-sidebar/tickets.