Cocktail Courier / Chicago

Laila Grainawi

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Hometown: Palatine, IL
Certifications: United States Bartenders Guild - Chicago,
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Laila has always been a creative soul. Often dubbed the black sheep of the family (everyone else is an engineer), she embraced her unique perspective and moved from her small suburban town to Baltimore, MD to attend Maryland Institute College of Art. She energetically tried to learn about as many art forms as possible.

When she graduated with a degree in the versatile, and simultaneously incomprehensible, field of Interdisciplinary Sculpture she considered many different career trajectories. She moved to New York, sampling a variety of jobs along the way. After working as a graphic designer moving pixels half a millimeter, and as a knitwear designer slowly fabricating designs stitch by stitch, she found herself yearning for both the tangible satisfaction of making and the immediate gratification of creating at a faster pace.

When she moved back to Chicago to be closer to her family, she landed in Logan Square, one of Chicago’s hippest neighborhoods. It was there that she found herself in front of an incredible food and restaurant scene and a bourgeoning cocktail community. After many months unintentional “research” that was conducted by her sitting in front of her favorite bartenders at her local bars, and them cheerfully fielding a whole litany of her questions about why stir vs. shake, why that spirit, why that modifier, what does that random bottle on your back bar taste like? She then realized all of her passions for food and connecting with people could be found in this one very specific job. And so, she set out to not only learn everything she possibly could about being a bartender and the very diverse cocktail world, but to become integrated into it, by getting “behind the stick” (as they say) to learn hands-on.

Her now fellow bartending friends, often joke that she is on the bartending fast track, as her same passion for knowledge that enabled her to have an incredible depth of information about the art world, now fuels a fire about whiskeys, the fine art of syrup making, and how to achieve that all important balance in a drink. And continuing on that fast track, she was quickly plucked out from behind the bar to join the team at Cocktail Courier as Creative Director to bring all that obsessive memorization, intense studiousness, and passion for the beverage industry to other people who also identify as budding cocktail enthusiasts.

When she’s not making cocktail syrups or shaking drinks, you can find her spinning yarn, exploring side streets and sipping lattes.

Current Position(s)
Creative Director @ Cocktail Courier
Chicago, IL  |  8/2016 - Present

Previous Position(s)
Bartender @ Beacon Tavern
Chicago, IL  |  5/2016 - 8/2016
Bartender @ The VIG Chicago
Chicago, IL  |  9/2015 - 7/2016