Back on his way to Austin for Bar Smarts, recovering punk bassist Sean Kenyon expresses his pure hospitality with Occidental and Williams & Graham in Denver, Colorado. The industry veteran has seen it all and possesses a grounded-ness that is sorely missing from the latest wave of craft bartending. From New Jersey to Austin to Colorado, the road has been filled with visceral experiences. But despite what at times might have been a tumultuous story, the latest chapter is all about love. We chat Bad Religion, Trump, Rye, and motorcycles.
Mr. Rum himself, Ed Hamilton. There is no more world traveled and scientifically adept rum man than the minister of the Ministry of Rum. Spending many of his years on boats and rigs of all sizes, Ed has sought out the finest rums in the world. With his own label Hamilton, he showcases funk, flavor, and variety with some of the most delectable rums bottled. A wealth of knowledge; this conversation is the advanced class on Rum/Rhum. We chat beer, boats, and yeast.
From Russia with love: Ania Robbins, the linguist, the teacher, the cocktail extraordinaire, and now Rhum fanatic, has had an interesting journey since leaving Russia years ago. She has mastered English and the construction of amazing cocktails. From hospitality in Mobile, AL to Austin, TX, Ania now manages one of the best cocktail destinations in Austin, Backbeat. In the latest twist of fate, Ania's fascination with Martinique has led her to represent the House of Agricole Rhum's in Texas. With such amazing marks as Rhum JM, Clement, and Damoiseau, she's elevating the conversation about agricole in Texas. We chat Calvados, advertising, and bread lines.
From small-town, USA to the booze laden early days of Austin's cocktail scene, Darren Meowsky is a student of life. He's seen the evolution of Austin from its inception. Always expanding his creative boundaries, Darren made the move from beyond the bar to the distribution realm. He flexes his marketing and social muscles now in San Antonio with Pioneer Wine and Spirits. The emerging culture in SA provides an astonishing opportunity. As necessity is the mother of all invention, Darren also has a sultry line of lotions soon to be to market. We chat Lynch, The Tavern, Billy Hankey, and more.
Despite a good college try in the field of Criminal Justice, Stephan Mendez's genetics ran deep. Despite his father's advice to sit down and cozy up to a desk job, Stephan found his calling in the hospitality industry. Shot and beers bars evolved into cocktail mastery. And now, Stephan is the beverage director for the Boulevardier Group in San Antonio, TX. BG has established some of the finest cocktail spots in the city and state with The Brooklynite,The Last Word, and more. With a brand gig, beverage director gig, and a continuing pursuit of knowledge, where does this all end up? We talk Al Pacino, The Real McCoy rum, Ozfest, and more.
The trek to America proved to be a life changing one for Vilma Mazaite de Flores. Despite an enjoyable childhood in Lithuania, the spike of wanderlust drove her to explore the world around her. After seeing the worst of Las Vegas hospitality via a casino buffet, Vilma set her sights on a better path; wine. Years later, and after having worked at some fine establishments in Aspen and New York City, Vilma helped craft the wine program at the now shuttered La V in Austin, TX. The closure brings up the important conversation: is Austin ready for a fine dining scene....yet? Now, in this next chapter Vilma works with Domaine Select Wine and Spirits sharing great flavor again. We chat marriage, Oaxaca, travel, and more....
Jessica Ramirez has parlayed her talents in event planning to transition into the hospitality, distribution, and now product industries. A trek to Texas for love and the avoidance of Michigan winters evolved into her latest role at Cadre Noir Imports. She evangelizes the great spirits which include: Combier, Banhez Mezcal, Control C Pisco, and more. With some well known labels and some lesser known labels, how are the challenges different than the other tiers? Creative solutions are abound. We chat mezcal, music, beauty queens, and more...
There are few names that are as synonymous with quality, trust, expertise, and compassion as David Suro's. A successful restaurant owner and agave impresario: David is the sane voice of the industry. He has traveled for agave, studied for agave, and managed to import some of the finest agave spirits ever to be conceived. With Siembra Metl and Siembra Azul, his perspective on terroir and flavor are elegantly expressed with unparalleled quality. Beyond spirits, David has also taken a keen concern regarding ethics and the overall political state of agave. In effect, he leads the most pressing conversations about agave via the Tequila Interchange Project This isn't mezcal 101, this is mezcal 202. We chat bats, Sotol, waiting, and the kitchen.
Passion goes a long way, and for Mike Morales his love of agave has drove him to assemble a massive archive of information. His site Tequila Aficionado is the most comprehensive and informative source for tequila, mezcal, and sotol on the internet and in print today. From his high school days in East LA, Mike has trekked through the health club, newspaper, radio, and food distribution industries. He finally met his true love Tequila while throwing a massively successful festival in New Mexico dedicated to the delicious spirit. Interviews, tv pilots, and many manuscripts later, Mike continues to spread the agave love every single chance he gets. We talk El Chapo, Sotol, David Suro, and shot girls.
A southern pilates instructor gone rogue, Carley Dunavant has been juggling health and hospitality for years now. After a full life entrenched in the southern culture of towns like Oxford and Memphis, love yet again brought another great person into Austin, TX. From behind the bars at Drink.Well., Qui, and JW Marriott to shifting to the distribution side of the house, Carley has maintained her integrity. In an industry of double-standards between men and women, how does Carley remain successful and focused? We chat Celiacs (for real), La Croix, and making the "shift" from behind the bar.
As Tacy begins her masterplan return to the Southwest, it's time to sit back and reflect on how all of this happened in the first place. The concept of homeschooling is foreign to many of us, but happens to be the impetus for this entire chat with Tacy. Fending to find herself amidst tragedy, seclusion, and sheltering, Tacy has emerged a reflexive and incredibly perceptive woman. The hospitality industry granted her freedoms to shape her career and flex her creative muscles. She's one of the most imaginative bartenders in the world, despite Vegas saying so as well. We chat Lavenue, Drink.Well., love, and more...
Tempus Fugit Spirits co-founder John Troia is a vestige of an olden time. He's traveled the world in pursuit of exquisite booze and come back to the states with some of the finest spirits available. He connects the new world to the old. This California native has always appreciated historical aesthetic and even brought that eye to the fashion industry. An interesting path of Chartreuse and hospitality ultimately sent John traversing the world in search of the best flavors. In the wake of this red eye lifestyle, we now have great spirits like Gran Classico, Alessio Vermouths, Fernet Angelico and more... We chat Mark Twain, Bourbon, vintage bottles, and more....
Making the move from behind the bar to across it (via distribution) isn't always the most intuitive career, but Austin's Nicki Petry is making the transition smoothly. A Wyoming born horn player and rockabilly extraordinaire, Nicki has had an interesting career path. From a booming Las Vegas economy to a stint in the military, he's seen it all an drank it all. But why now, what is it about Glazer's distribution that looks like the best fit? We chat Shibas, guitar, and talking it all out.
More midwest love on SDV this week. Brandon Cummins rose through the ranks of the hospitality industry to now work in product development with Altamar Brands. He has a brilliant collection of spirits to evangelize such as: Tequila Ocho, Right Gin, and Foursquare Rum. The traveling, creativity, and technological agility come from a rich background in wine and guitar. Band guys make the brand guys. We chat PJ Harvey, The Urge, and branding.
Don't go into the business he said, I want different things for you he said. But yet St Louis' Justin Cardwell found himself being pulled back into the industry despite his father's advice. Stints in computer science, film, and hockey were just temporary as the hospitality gene's dominance took effect. Justin is dedicated to improving his skills while also making simple flavors even more accessible. As a major voice of the USBG, co-conspirator at Lush Life, and general gentleman of cultural, Justin strives to bring the midwest scene to center stage. He sits as bar manager at BC's Kitchen for now, but what lies just on that next horizon. We talk DePalma, bodies of water, and the early days of Mezcal.
The road to hospitality is often paved with drumming, touring, and recording. Chris McClish grew up in the golden era of punk and post-punk music. The Richmond, VA and surrounding music scenes crept into a burgeoning pianist and influenced him to be a drummer. The thankless life of being a drummer led him to great opportunities at Sound City, The Troubadour, and more. But as many personalities collide whilst playing in a confined space with one another, Chris set course for NYC and the hospitality industry began to take control of his career. In his just emerging one year in Austin, Chris has worked at Jeffrey's and now reigns as the bar manager at Juniper, Austin. His earnest and simple take on flavors show their true form at Juniper and are delicately coupled with brilliant Italian bites. We chat live music, being 40, and bourbon.
From the school of hard knox, to Austin, TX. Jeremy has started from humble beginnings and turned these experiences into successful bar ownership with 3 concepts now under his belt. Tennessee and Longview, TX don't begin to describe Jeremy's backstory but working as a door man at Beauty Bar just might. An often private persona with a penchant for delicious whiskey, Jeremy has just opened his third concept Kitty Cohen's as an homage to the 70's and a feisty family member. We sip whiskey, chat second marriages, and not revealing our last names to the public.
The balance between romance and the hospitality industry is a complicated one. Madelyn Kay is a rising start in the cocktail scene and represents a lot of the complications brought on by technology. As a Speed Rack competitor, shaker and stirred at Vox Table, her career is building but at what social cost? This chat is broken into two parts, the latter being more up close and personal with Madelyn as she returns from a brilliant European trek. We chat texting, psychology, starting a family, and the future.
Salud Bon Vivants! Today's guest Whitney Hobbs cut her teeth with sandwiches and brunches before joining the Ancho Reyes/Tequila Ocho team. What started as a path paved in volleyball veered sharply into hospitality since mean coaches can really change the trajectory of one's life. A few stabs at academia and living the Rocky Mountain high later, Whitney stepped into yet another chapter of her story, the Texas chapter. With a great familiarity and passion of agave spirits and great cocktails, it's no wonder that she now traverses the states honoring some of the greatest spirits made today. We chat Snooze, love, Houston, and sacrifices.
Magic number 80, Trevor Schneider is another great mind and personality on the William Grant and Son's roster. He has seen a life of popularity, tragedy, and male persuasion. Talking to him you think Tom Cruise, but he has the mind of an insightful Tom Waits. An unexpected baseball injury propelled Trevor into a different stratosphere of sensory perception and future. He landed somewhere in the middle of the hospitality industry and now travels the world speaking the praises of Reyka Vodka. A captivating presence and wonderful person to get to converse with, Trevor is the guy you rally behind. We chat the meaning of life, vodka-bitters, JR Mocanu, and being attractive.
Music often spawns other creative endeavors and WG&S's Fred Parent is a true master of the arts. Aspiring screenwriter, musician, and gin peddler, Fred has an academia focused lens on the world around him. As the new Hendrick's Gin ambassador, Fred integrates his love of aesthetic, history, and the arts into a Gin-fueled roadshow. Often brandishing his massive cucumber, an eccentric blimp, Fred shares the nutty and Terry Gilliam inspired spirit of Hendrick's Gin. We talk typewriters, cigarettes, Thomas Edison, and the lucrative field of modern bartending.
This world traveler was literally born into this industry. Michelle Fedor is the lovely brand ambassador behind Bruichladdich and The Botanist Gin. Her varied interests have led her in many directions professionally but ultimately were never quite the perfect match that she now feels with Whiskey. But what about that moment when it's ready to give it all up and just hit the road? We talk materialism, Florida, Scotch, and great marketing.
The history of Ireland and Irish Whiskey is an eye opening one. Once the largest segment of whiskey in the world, now has had to reinvent itself and bring people back to Irish Whiskey. With great options and conversations, Irish whiskey sees a bright future; especially now that Jennifer Farrell has moved from Ireland to Texas specifically representing the wonderful Tullamore Dew. Jen is an ambitious Irish native that knows whiskey and wants to share a sip with each and everyone of you. Focused on studies, her master's degree, and a career that didn't involve observing consumer behavior in the grocery store with a clipboard, fate lined up and Tullamore Dew brought her to Texas to socialize the brand. We talk prohibition, Tully 12, youth, and the future of whiskey.
Hungarian immigrant turned animator turned hospitality extraordinaire: Mate Hartai is a pensive and compassionate man. He has taken to the English language with eloquence and charisma. As beverage director at HG Sply Co, he is concerned about the well being of his employees and how they can sustain a safe/injury free career in this industry. He can design a better bar, and strives to enrich the lives of those around him. We chat Bowie, Mezcal, Dallas, and more....
Julian Pagan was infused with the spirit of music and invention from an early age. He traveled the states for love and ended up making a massive creative splash in the Dallas cocktail scene. With a constant quest for learning and approaching new ingredients, Julian has read his way to being one of the finest minds in the game. His recent chapter with St. Germain exhibits his dedication to great work and flavors. We talk hip hop, vinyl, champagne, Madrina, and Tony Romo.