Tell us a little about yourself, your family, and where you grew up:
I grew up in a quiet little farming community just outside of Ponce de Leon, Florida called Bridge Creek. It was a place where you waved at every car you passed and neighbors helped each other out if they were in need. My mother and father were incredibly hard workers who somehow managed to raise me, operate a small cattle ranch, and work in the medical field on top of it all. On the farm I cultivated a love of exploration and outdoors, hard work, and appreciation for the land.
How did you get into bartending?
To be honest, I kind of fell into it. I started out behind the "bar" as a big time coffee geek. I worked in craft coffee in NYC. My employer decided to expand their business by including a bar. They asked me to learn and pick a few bartending shifts. From the first night I started slinging craft booze, I was hooked.
Tell us a little about your bartending career to date:
I started out in NYC working the first acclaimed restaurant concept of husband and wife duo Jen Lim and Ben Sandler called The Queens Kickshaw. It was a game changer for me. I truly fell in love with cultivating lasting relationships and creating memorable experiences for customers. Ben and Jen went on to open NYC's first Cider Bar ('Wassail') down in the East Village.
I fell in love with Craft Beer and moved out to Denver (The Beer Mecca) to bartend at one of the top joints in town called Hops and Pie. Hops was a real neighborhood joint. We had fantastic products, tons of amazing regulars and we're very involved in our local community.
What are your favorite ingredients that define your style of cocktail?
My interests change with the seasons. Spring is almost upon us, so I've been using lots of fresh fruit like blackberry, kiwi, and raspberry. Lots of drinks that sparkle via seltzer, champagne, or prosecco. I've been using some wacky ingredients like Lime-Coconut Sea Salt, Chartreuse sprays, egg whites, house made Orgeats, as well as half and half. As far a liquor goes, I've been using LOTS of Gin! Specifically, The Botanist, Uncle Vals, and Brooklyn.
What cocktail trends or spirits interest you at the moment?
At the moment, I'm really liking the off, weird stuff like - salt, pepper, vegetables, and vinegar.
It's also really interesting to see people playing around with beer and cider in their cocktails. Those two things have such vast range that it really opens immense creative possibilities.
When you’re not behind the bar, what do you like to drink?
I am a big lover of Whiskey. My current crushes are Michter's 10yr Single BBL, and High West Midsummer's Night Dram Rye Blend.
And finally, is there a special cocktail of your creation that you’d like to share with The Craft Bar fans?
Sure! I'll share a simple one that's a big hit with many of my regulars:
Love Me, Tinder (Otherwise Known As: 'Swipe Right')
** Ingredients **
3/4 oz Simple Syrup
3/4 oz Citrus Blend ( equal parts fresh Lime and Lemon juice )
2 oz The Botanist Islay Gin
1/2 egg white
** Method **
Add Simple Syrup and Blackberries to shaker tin and lightly muddle. Combine all remaining ingredients into the shaker tin and shake vigorously. Add Ice. Shake again and set aside.
Lightly rinse a chilled Coup glass with a diluted Salt Water solution (A misting bottle works best). Double strain contents of shaker into the Coup and garnish with a fresh blackberry on a pick.