Punk, bass, scrawny, and French, are but a few of the words to describe the lovable Florian Minier. An early academic success transitioning into the arts, Florian is down to earth, hard working, and wise beyond his years. Growing up in Connecticut and making his way into the burgeoning cocktail movement of NY were only the preface to what has and will be an illustrious career in Texas. Currently residing at the world-class Half Step, Florian manages to build a wonderful reputation while being a great soul to be around. We talk Motorhead, Calvados, love, and ownership (not connected).
Happy 40th birthday to a friend of the industry, Mr. Brian Floyd. Floyd is a charmer, a dancer, and an all around renaissance man. With an amazing tale of missed opportunities, broken down cars, and chance meetings that formed the future of his hospitality career, Floyd is an inimitable force in the industry. Between opening up Weather Up in NYC and transitioning his career from behind the bar to creative directing at Sourced Craft Cocktails, this is just the beginning. We chat about film, music, love, grudges, and building a strong relationship with Dad in our adulthoods. Of course we sip bourbon and talk about Paul Newman.
From Baylor to London, Tom Thornton has seen it all and experienced it all. A music fan turned food writer/aficionado, Tom's journalistic endeavors have led him to chat with some of the finest people in the business. From frank conversations with Noel Gallagher to attending small venue David Bowie shows, Tom's enviable journey is laden with music greatness. A fine father, distinguished drinker, and successful realtor, Tom Thornton embraces the multi-faceted modern occupation while still taking some time to enjoy the finer things in life. We chat Rye, modern music, the state of food writing, and how London is a wonderful place to do just about anything. Enjoy this Saz 18 infused chat.
Their eyes met from across the bar: one possessed an adept ability to build syrups and bitters to empower the aspiring bartender, the other possessed a meta quality of flavor building and a rich cultural history in food. The resulting brainchild Bittercube was born thereafter. Many states, and employees later, Nick and Ira operate the consulting and bitters producing behemoth Bittercube. The two compose the perfect buddy cop dynamic while embracing their individually unique talents. Ranging from Orange and Jamaican bitters to their delicious Cherry Bark variety, Nick and Ira are sharing their brilliance one dropper at a time. We chat Half Step, community, fate, and family foods while sipping black coffee at 9:30am.
If the tenderness, coolness, and overall cordiality of the midwest can be summarized by JR Mocanu, then the country isn't as bad off as we make it out to be. A first generation Romanian American, JR is an everyman's man. He enjoys beer, action movies, and having a good time. These traits of course set his love of hospitality perfectly in motion. However, the grips of the midwest winters sent him south to Austin, TX to explore a new chapter in his career. JR has recently released one of the most ambitious cocktail menus in recent memory at Vox Table and the Texas cocktail scene thanks him. We chat Madison, beer, Wild Turkey Rye 101, and how moving for love sometimes opens the greatest of doors.
The anime and Final Fantasy doesn't define Amanda Carto, but the insatiable thirst for quality and knowledge just might. Amanda is a Pittsburg native that entered the hospitality industry at a young age and showed her talent for ingredients immediately. Both a Tales from the Cocktail and San Antonio Cocktail Conference student, her ambition and professionalism know no bounds. She is the future of the industry because she's willing to work for every opportunity she can. We chat video games, UCLA, camps, and Geraldines in Austin, TX.
Jen Keyser has lived the Grapes of Wraith American tale. Her immersion in culture and conflict was the perfect breeding ground for the latent creativity that she's unleashing at Geraldines in Austin, TX. With obstacles from California to Texas, Jen could construct the perfect folk record. The tumultuous tale carried Jen into Texas where her career experienced a brilliant renaissance. As an amazing gig at The Highball introduced Jen to the incredible Drafthouse crew and community, her love of whiskey also started to blossom. Known for her cheekiness and love of the brown trickle, Jen is now the Chief of Bar Operations at Geraldines at the Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, TX. Will the corporate gig cause turmoil, or is it the perfect launching point to achieve even greater success? We sip bourbon, talk about love lost, and stealing all the right things.
From Germany to Ohio to Texas, The Roosevelt Room's Dennis Gobis is a devotee to family and hard work. A father of 4 pit bulls and an amazing cocktail destination in Austin, TX. He continues to learn and innovate in the cocktail world. A strange trip from Germany ejected Dennis into the United States without a grasp of the English language or a sense of what was next. After years of pummeling drums, working in real estate and construction, he ultimately found solace in the hospitality industry. Austin has embraced his personality with awards and now he is finally making his mark with the Roosevelt Room. With an unparalleled dedication to detail and cerebral ingredients, Dennis continues to defy the parameters of stagnant cocktail ingredients while romancing his patrons from behind the bar. We sip Mezcal and talk about America's predilection to solve problems with pills.
Justin Lavenue is the perfect candidate for the cover of GQ. He embodies fashion- forward thinking, wit, intelligence, and the pure essence of a gentleman. A child of divorce and ironically great role-models, Justin Lavenue balances classic chivalry and metropolitan ambition. From an unlikely start at an Indian restaurant in Boulder, CO, to being one of the owners of Austin's The Roosevelt Room, JL has only begun to take the industry by storm. We talk father influence, wrestling our younger brothers, and how working hard will always make you appreciate hard work. Despite the accolades, peer recognition, and natural talent though, will Justin be able to ever take a moment to enjoy it? We chat long term workloads, and how maybe sometimes we have to seize those moments of reflection.
40 episodes to freedom! This milestone interview captures the brilliant Francisco Terrazas, an erudite mezcal savant who educates and shares the gospel of Mezcal Vago across the nation. With a rich academic past in Arizona, and a resume that would make agave lovers awe, Francisco loves what he does and is a spokesman for tradition. His core appreciation of family and chivalry also makes him an amazing role model. We sip a rare bottle of Del Maguey and talk marriage, absentee fathers, and partying it up at Arizona State University.
"East coast Italian American meets the warmth and opportunity of the Texas hospitality industry." It's an interesting headline for an equally interesting story of the intelligent Rachel DelRocco. A New Jersey native bound to break out of her small town upbringing and thrive in the metropolitan spoils of New York City, Rachel's aspirations of being a songwriter mutated into being one of the finest minds in wine and spirits today. From New Jersey to New York to Houston, TX, she had made an amazing name for herself in such a short amount of time. It's hard to believe that at a young age of 29, Rachel hasn't even touched the tip of the career iceberg. We chat ankle injuries, marriage, and pork rolls in this sommelier friendly conversation.
Music fanatic, sound engineer, and all around taste virtuoso, Jesse Torres is one of the most inspired creators in the San Antonio cocktail scene. From playing in a Korean school band, to studying at the Culinary Institute of America, Jesse has explored all of the tangents of flavor and art. With sonic textures, and dissected flavors, Jesse brings his unique blend of military and kitchen training to the Esquire Tavern in SA. The wildly varied projects of life often take things down dark paths and we chat about finding poor business partners when it’s exactly too late. Sipping George T Stagg and relaxing at The Brooklynite, this conversation traverses everywhere.
Love's got everything to do with the brilliant journey of Josh Hendrix. From Georgia, to Louisiana, to Texas, Josh's diverse experiences fatefully catapulted him into the newly actualizing Dallas cocktail scene. As one of the "Dream Team" at Smyth, Josh established himself as a trustworthy, hard working, and lovable guy filled with integrity. This dedication to professionalism and keeping his wits led him to an amazing opportunity across the bar with Moet-Hennessey. The shift from shakers to spreadsheets is a jolting one, but a necessary step in becoming a formidable force in this industry. Josh and I talk music, milk punch, and the influence of the right woman.
At the switchboard of the industry, an ambitious, sociable, and shrewd business woman connects us all. Lindsey Johnson is the founder/owner of Lush Life Productions and the essential friend to the industry. Whether it's education in rum, bourbon, bar ownership, or just being humane, LJ is helming a movement while being one of the brightest icons in the booze industry. Part Texas and part New York, Lindsey is here to raise the bar of quality, connection, and education. As Lush Life evolves and matures, the dawning of a new Bar Institute program emerges. Traveling from city to city, this amazing educational summit will hit Austin in June of 2016. Without Lindsey's contributions to the booze narrative, many of us would have never forged the wonderful friendships we share today. We sip Russell's Reserve 1998 and discuss how the Cure can sometimes put us to sleep.
You would never suspect that most beer fanatics also have an adept appreciation of physical health, but Hops and Grain's Josh Hare is an amazing amalgam of health and business savvy. An Abilene fence builder in his youth, Josh understood fermentation as not just a scientific equation, but a basic means of making alcohol for the weekends. With a brief stint as a biology teacher, and a deflated sense of empowerment brought upon by antiquated Texas education curriculums, Josh headed to the health capital of America: Boulder, Colorado. After biking, swimming, and selling running accessories, Josh found a great opportunity in Austin and ultimately understood that he had to make beer for the people that needed it, health conscious Austinites. We sip bourbon and chat sex education.
A textbook gentlemen with an eye for flavor. Austin's Steven Robbins has amassed a wealth of experience in the service industry while developing an astute ability to make some of the best cocktails you'll ever taste. Currently at Austin's Small Victory, Steven has taken many turns in his exciting life, but has summed his predilections towards science and hospitality to a jedi level. While regaling me with tales of Alabama's beautiful terroir, we dive into his latest effort, an opulent dad bod calendar featuring the brightest personalities (and bodies) in Austin's cocktail culture. This calendar symbolizes a dedication to his community and his support for the Austin's Children Shelter. The event, to be held on February 1st at the Hops and Grain brewery, will combine cocktails and the Rubenesque bodies that brought the calendar to life. Steven has manners, tact, and a way with words. Enjoy this conversation and join us at the release party for the Dad Bod Action Squad calendar.
A soon to be lauded 30 under 30 star, or so I predict, Chris Harrison is one of the mad scientist founders behind Liber and Co (http://www.liberandcompany.com). This Texas boy turned entrepreneur mounted an amazing pedigree of science and dirt biking before realizing the cocktail movement wasn't just a flash in the pan. Empowering bartenders with beautiful syrups ranging from a Pineapple gum to real grenadine, Chris and Co. has taken the industry with a momentous force in their 4 years of operation. We chat twins, chemistry, and how drinking every day certainly has its merits....for science.
From small town California to the burgeoning Austin, TX, Brandon is a dedicated father that makes you feel loved across the bar. A blue collar, skateboard brandishing, Hot Damn gulping good guy, Brandon has become a great friend to the industry in his 3 years in Austin. While embracing a unparalleled humility and admirable work ethic, Brandon is now the newly elected VP of the Austin USBG chapter. We talk about the pressing dichotomy of drinking as a need vs drinking as a want and how we all have to cope somehow. Don't mention Star Wars because this might be the first SW virgin on the show, luckily we have bourbon to dissipate the finger pointing.
Hopefully the headaches are at a minimum on this post- San Antonio Cocktail Conference Monday. A book nerd Cape-Cod-ian, Killian Oliver, manages the beautiful Whiskey Cake bar space at La Cantera San Antonio. With a massive respect for studiousness and cost management, there is no ceiling to Killian's impressive career. But as it often goes in this industry, one's personal relationships become challenging while living the vampire 9-5. We chat agave, scotch, and how picking up a few books now and again can give you a much needed mental advantage.
It's San Antonio Cocktail Conference week at SDV! This installment is an homage to Chihuahua and its beautiful native spirit Sotol. Ricardo Pico, a true diplomat of the state and fellow Sotol teammate, is the international brand ambassador for Hacienda de Chihuahua. He's an articulate, business minded, gentleman who shares his tales of growing up in Mexico and how a few short lived business ventures turned into a great partnership with Hacienda. It's an agave love fest in this chat and if you're attending the conference this weekend, please see Ricardo's panel "Discovering Sotol" JANUARY 16, 2016 | 1:30PM - 2:45PM, Baker Room at the Sheraton Gunter Hotel. We also sample the new Rustico from Hacienda, which is one of the most robust expressions of Sotol to hit the US. Salud.
It's San Antonio Cocktail Conference week at Show de Vie! The premier booze event of Texas rolls into another year this upcoming weekend January 14th-17th. With many great SACC partners to detail, this time we chat with Director of Marketing at Twin Liquors, Sandra Spalding. A textbook go-getter with musical chops, Sandra is a So-Cal ingenue that loves to reflect on the halcyon days of 90's rock. From the Pixies to Pitbull, her love of music and hospitality sees no bounds. Moving to Austin on a whim, a serendipitous trip to Twin Liquors changed the trajectory of Sandra's career. 15 years later, she finds herself the brains behind Twin Liquors marketing division and a highly influential personality in the Austin booze industry. We salute the wonderful support of Twin Liquors and lament the saturation of modern music in this fruitful chat.
A student of both spirits and academia, Austin's newly appointed USBG president Katie Clas has been a great influence on the culture since she arrived nearly 2 years ago. From dog fostering to Malort shooting, this ex-Chicagoan moved to Austin for a large brand ambassador position that was suddenly dissolved shortly thereafter. Left with few leads, Katie chose to advance her education and ultimately accepted a role with the Phillips Distilling Company. These various opportunities converged proving that Katie is the ultimate survivor. Whether demonstrating her marketing shrewdness, or her midwestern down-to-earthness, nothing can keep a good Chicagoan down.
Like a Scorsese screenplay, Larry's childhood started with explosions and evading organized crime. Traveling around the US like an army brat, Larry ultimately settled outside of Austin, Texas. Despite his love of generous Texans, we chat about the different varieties of racism and the unique covert flavor that Texas has to offer. From his days in the trenches at The Belmont in early Austin to his more auteur experiences at Peché, Larry has worked in all areas of the food industry. Most recently, Larry's notoriety as Angel's Envy's bourbon boss has introduced him to a whole new aspect of the industry and the opportunities seem limitless.