Alexis Piotrowski is the perfect template for bar efficiency and no nonsense staff management. An early athlete and found object artist, Alexis found her destiny was in the hospitality industry. With varying experience serving shots, margaritas, and every other iteration of alcoholic beverages you can imagine, Alexis brought her impressive resume to Austin where she brought the original Jackalope into a new era of success and has been an integral force in constructing Version 2.0 Jackalope South Shore. We chat election results, being conscious of costs, and playing the right hits.
Jackalope South Shore's grand opening is THIS Saturday November 19th. Details Below.
Longtime guitarist and touring musician Aaron Beavers has been selling whiskey from the stage for years. Once he strummed his first guitar, he was hooked and writing hooks in no time. From Arizona to Colorado to Hawaii, Aaron has followed his passion for music and after years of writing, a pay to play gig in LA catapulted his music career. But as his rise to fame came to an apex, Napster was just around the corner redefining the operations of the music industry. Turning to hospitality to pay the bills and over a decade later, Aaron is still slinging whiskey. As a luxury specialist for Beam-Suntory, Aaron shares some of the world's greatest whiskies with some of the greatest minds in the game. We chat fatherhood, John Popper, and Wilco.
It's the one year anniversary of Austin's Infinite Monkey Theorem winery: a reinvention of the classic concept; reasonably priced, ethically produced, and completely transparent wine production all under a roof in the city limits. The wonderful couple Aaron and Meredith Berman are the masterminds behind the Austin landmark. They are business savvy, artistic, and sharing the great flavors of Texas terroir with their wines. With a child on the way, and the one year Austin anniversary of the winery on the horizon, how has this venture affected the couple's relationship and how difficult is it really to run a business with the person you love? We chat writing, third wheels, and wines in a can.
It's Martine-y time! To celebrate the launch of the Martine Honeysuckle Liqueur, today on SDV we talk to its creators and massive influences on the Texas spirits scene, Dee and Gary Kelleher. From Texacello, Dripping Springs Vodka, to Pepe Z tequila, Dee and Gary have been at the forefront of creating exciting products to firmly establish Texas as a haven for distilled spirits. What started as a cocktail waitress/bar manager romance over 35 years ago, has now transformed into a power couple that inspires and delights. They've seen the Austin cocktail scene at its every turn and now influences its future profoundly with bold new concoctions. We chat distilling, distributors, and maintaining a loving marriage for over 3 decades.
Texas rears its head again upon the global cocktail stage. From early days in the Houston music scene, to an academic pursuit of design, Claire Sprouse's shift to the hospitality industry was the perfect platform for her creativity, love of sociology, and passion for design. Unassuming and brilliant perfect illustrates Claire's level of perceptiveness and abilities behind the bar. A single Gin competition launched a career that now has Claire leading green efforts in San Francisco with her consulting group Tin Roof Drink Community. She's a mentor and innovator. We chat Fugazi, Hands Up Houston, fast food, and more.
Growing careers and opportunities are built on education, and for Collectif 1806's Emily Arseneau, her journey through the hospitality industry has led to amazing twists and turns. A Louisiana native, Emily can create, craft conversations, and inspire. Her blend of radio DJ antics and studio art sensibilities, make her a prototypical, hard working hospitality veteran. With a wide array of bartending gigs under her belt, she leaves a massive impact on the Dallas cocktail scene while soon venturing to New York for her largest opportunity yet, National Brand manager for Collectif 1806- a group dedicated to best practices and education in the hospitality industry. We talk "Dig", Cointreau, and crazy facts this day in history.
Sometimes pouring that first cocktail just opens up a gateway to flavor and opportunity. For Houston's Hal Brock, the hospitality industry always offered the creative and humanitarian sensibilities on which Hal thrives. When academia doesn't quite offer the flexibility and cash flow of the bistro down the street, serious decisions need to be made and in Hal's case, they led him through numerous avenues in the hospitality industry. From the cocktail haven Anvil to working in the distribution chain at Glazers, this winding road has uncovered many new narratives. The latest chapter finds Hal spreading the joy of Rum with Parce, a Columbian variety that uniquely demonstrates the terroir and processes of the region. We chat astrology, love, and symbolic imagery in bottle enclosures.
Sometimes playing trombone in school band is the perfect gateway into bigger and better things. For Houston's Alex Negranza, this modest start transitioned into promotions, coffee, and booze....for now. With few dollars in his pocket, Alex left his native California to start a new chapter in Seattle. Here he fell more in love with coffee, which (as we'd expect) led to a deep passion for booze, and now he not only evangelizes the delicious Scrappy's Bitters, but he bartends at the cocktail mecca Anvil in Houston, TX. Aspiring to always learn and educate, Alex also serves as education chair for the Houston USBG. We chat bourbon, coincidence, and barista-ness.
An observer of life and people, Alex Smith set on a writing journey that derailed due to academia and its creative confines. A long time California native, Alex has worked in all types of hospitality settings but found an affinity for Oakland very early on. The journey has ultimately led Alex to a deep passion for Gin, so much so that he now owns one of the the world's most amazing bar destinations for Gin, White Chapel. The idea was fortified on trust, arbitration, and ultimately Alex's reputation. We talk change, Trump, Gin, and more Gin.
100 episodes, many sips, and numerous life changing moments, this is Mike G. The wonderful guest host Michael Sanders switches roles for this 100th episode and we finally get to know a bit more about the reasons behind Show De Vie. The what, where, how, and why all encapsulated in a mezcal flight. Thanks to everyone that has made this possible, now onto 200 episodes. We chat gin, divorce, music, and the modern travesty of politics.
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.