Cocktail Conversations

How Oakland University alumna Hillary Sawchuk's 'A Drink With ...' series made her Hollywood's drinking buddy

Oakland University alumna Hillary Sawchuck, creator of 'A Drink With,' has a drink at Sugar House in Detroit, with a dark and blurry view of the pub interior in the background.

Cheers! Oakland University alumna Hillary Sawchuck, creator of 'A Drink With,' has a drink at Sugar House in Detroit. Photo by Adam Sparkes.


icon of a calendarJune 6, 2017

icon of a pencilBy Sarah Rose Sharp

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Hillary Sawchuk had been living in Chicago for two years, after graduating from Oakland University in 2009, when she seized upon her calling.

"I went to school for journalism and I thought I wanted to be a sports reporter," says Sawchuk, who majored in journalism. "So I moved to Chicago, living there and sending out my demo tape. I never got that job. I kept saying over and over, 'Oh, I'm going to have a drink with this person, a drink with, a drink with...' And it took one of my high school friends to say, 'That's what you should call it.'"

Thus was born, "A Drink With" — an interview series that has brought Sawchuk into conversation with some of the nation's best and brightest, over the great social unifier of a shared beverage. She's shared cappuccinos with satirist "Weird Al" Yankovic, cups of tea with actor Adrian Grenier (as part of a recurring series sponsored by Acura at the Sundance Film Festival), and even engaged in conversation with founder of Quicken Loans and Rock Ventures LLC, Dan Gilbert.

"I always drink whatever our interview guest drinks because it's a way to connect with the person," says Sawchuk, during our interview, which took place, appropriately, over a drink at Sugar House, one of Detroit's trendy destinations for fancy cocktails. "People get excited about their drink." Sawchuk chose a sloe gin fizz, and took dainty sips of the frothy beverage, as she ruminated on her career as an interviewer and the skills she learned at Oakland University.

"I transferred from Michigan State University to Oakland University — I was working with the Detroit Pistons and at WDIV — and I loved my classes at OU. I thought it was just so cool that the professors were reporters on TV and in the industry, at all Detroit's big publications."

Oakland University alumna Hillary Sawchuck, creator of 'A Drink With,' outside of the Sugar House bar in Detroit. Photo by Adam Sparkes.

Now that Sawchuk's series has become a recognizable brand in Chicago, netting interviews with many A-list celebrities and entrepreneurs, she's eager to expand the brand in another location.

"I'm looking at Detroit and I'm looking at Los Angeles," she says. "I will always want to be doing interviews, but it doesn't just have to be me." Sawchuk clearly believes in the power of a shared beverage to form a significant connection.

"Relationships are formed over a drink, you celebrate over a drink — big moments happen over a drink," she says. "I want to capture the stories that are told in those intimate moments."

Some intimate moments need no words at all, just the raise of a glass. Cheers!

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