New York, New York
Tends Bar At1534
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THL: What are your other gigs and interests?
I love and play soccer whenever possible, build home bars for friends and family if needed, and enjoy going to the movies at least once a week. The beach, surf, and a cook out on the sand are as close to heaven to me. Other than running and working at 1534, Appleton Estate Rum, I also work with and run events for Contemporary Cocktails Inc. I travel to all the national events we produce, and execute the cocktails for my clients.
THL: What is something that best represents your personality?
I am a "what you see is what you get" kind of guy. I love being behind the stick and conversing with any and all patrons of my bars. I am a hard worker, former professional athlete, who understands that hard work breeds success, and that relaying on press and pass accolades will not get anyone anything but a big ego. I have traveled the world plying this craft and trade, and while I love it I realize we are here to serve others and to create an experience.
THL: What is your bartending style?
It's a mix bag because I am a mix bag. I started in cocktail bars in London before doing the flair thing while playing overseas. Once I returned to the States, I put flair aside and worked at the Ritz-Carlton, where I learned hospitality and the classics. Then I moved to South Beach to work in the clubs and beach hotels. There I learned speed and the contemporary style of bartending. Head to New Zealand and Australia where I learned about fresh ingredients and crafting cocktails for food and for a refined palate. I have worked clubs in New York, China, Australia, London, and Greece where I learned to be fast, have fun, be personal, and to flirt with women. Restaurants, hotels, and cocktail bars all over the east coast, New Zealand, England, New York, and Australia where I learned the art of hospitality and how to craft a cocktail.
THL: How do you find inspiration for new cocktails and recipes?
I find inspiration for new cocktails and recipes from a host of different things. Food, friends, the seasons, a vacation, etc. When I go someplace and have a great experience, I usually come away inspired and look to see how I can create a cocktail that reflects that experience: whether it be something I ate, or a drink I had at a friend's bar, or an emotion I had while I was away on vacation somewhere. I also love to look back at our bartending forefathers and see what they did, and see how I can tweak these cocktails that are our foundation to make a new cocktail.
THL: Besides bartending, what things do you do well?
Let's see, obviously I am quite good at soccer...or least was in my younger years. I find that other that bartending I am very good at running and executing an event. I know that might sound lame, but I have come to realize and have been told that my team and I are some of the best when it comes to producing an event seamlessly.
THL: Ever had any strange customer requests while bartending?
Let's be honest, no one is going to write about the strangest request that we, as bartenders, have ever gotten. We have all been propositioned, offered drugs as a tip, asked to partake in some stupid stuff. But for the purpose of this, I will say that the strangest request I got from a customer happened while I was tending bar at the Ritz-Carlton at Reynolds Plantation in Georgia. I happened to be bartending the week that they were going to be holding the Bush/Cheney Gala there. So two gentlemen in suits walked up to the bar on a Wednesday evening and proceeded to do a character test and question session that seemed a bit too personal for average conversation. When I turned my back to send their drink order through to their hotel room, in their place was a packet of matches bearing the Seal of the President. Turned out the guys asking about my criminal back ground, college education, and where I lived were Secret Service. Still have the packet of matches.
THL: What is your favorite after-shift drink?
My favorite after-shift drink is a Guinness and a shot of tequila.
THL: What is the one thing you can’t live without from your home liquor cabinet?
My whiskeys and tequilas. They are the only thing I drink at my house. I have a well-stocked unique selection of both and I would be really upset if I no longer had that.
THL: What is the most underrated cocktail?
I feel the Old Fashioned is the most underrated cocktail, mostly because the modern version has put a lot of people off. Most bartenders don't see that there is a delicious simplicity to the cocktail. I think most modern day bartenders would rather create a 'unique' cocktail with special ingredients that takes 5 minutes to make rather than use the Old Fashioned as a template to create some wonderful tasting cocktails. The original Old Fashioned with rye, bitters, sugar and a little water is such a simple and enjoyable blend.
THL: What is the test of a great bartender?
I think the test of a great bartender is to be able to hold court on a bar that is 3-4 deep, keep their cool, get drinks out fast, still be able to acknowledge and greet everyone waiting, still be entertaining, and make the other bartenders raise their game in order to keep up. If you can do this when there is chaos, then I know I am going to have a great time and great experience when its not so busy at your bar.