Phoenix; 25 years in the industry! (Yikes, I sound old!)
Where did you grow-up, and what was it like there?
I "mostly" grew up in Texas (Dallas). Always warm & friendly.
Favorite childhood memory?
Laughing hysterically with my BFF's- Angela and Emmy. (Emmy was from France and taught us "bad words" in French.)
Where do you work and what do you do there?
I'm the owner of Liquid Architecture, a beverage consultancy / agency. I'm also the Business Dir. for AZ Cocktail Week and co-owner of Rattle & Rum, a beverage catering & event company based in Phoenix.
What is the most rewarding part of your career?
So many things, and they have evolved over the years. I think the most rewarding aspect of my career used to be creating cocktails and menus and seeing them nationally on many hotel and chain restaurant menus. Still makes me smile. But, now, getting to travel around the US and beyond - I'm constantly inspired by what bartenders are doing around the globe, especially those with grace, hospitality and creativity. Also, working with so many people over the years and getting to see them flourish in their own careers and knowing you helped give them a hand and guide them in the right direction. That's the best and most rewarding aspect - being able to give back and see others around you grow and develop.
What is your favorite bartending moment?
It's those little moments when you can make guests at your bar feel like they matter and are important. When I was working behind the stick in NYC, I used to take "notes" on customers that came in so that I wouldn't forget their name or what they ordered. There was this biker guy that came in a few times during one week. He was just passing through and about to go to Sturgis, that big motorcycle rally. He was just a regular for one week. He always ordered a couple of very dirty martinis and had dinner at the bar. (I have a really unique way of trying to remember guests - sometimes I would take their name, something unique about them and what they drank. So, for this guy - his name was Steve, he wore motorcycle chaps and ordered a Dirty Martini - so, in my mind, he became "Steve Dirty Chaps." That also helped me remember that he was a biker too. As he left, he said, "See you next year, but you probably won't remember me when I come back." And, exactly one year later, he came in again (wearing his biker chaps) and I said "It's Steve Dirty Chaps! How was Sturgis!?" while starting to make him his Dirty Martini. He cracked up laughing and told me all about his Sturgis adventure. So, even when I wasn't there, he would leave little notes "Missed you. Signed, "Steve Dirty Chaps."
What do you do to relax outside of work?
Family Time! With 2 kids (8 and 9 yrs old), we like to watch movies and play games. Every year, we all un-plug and go on a 4-week hiatus, camping, boating or traveling.
Tell us about your dream vacation!
It would be with my family and family friends ... boating trip, island-hopping at BVI. (This is on the agenda!)
"Luck is when opportunity meets preparedness."
Advice you could offer to others:
If I had to distill down any advice I gave to others based on my experience down to one word, it would be to "listen." As a consultant and business owner, and being the USBG SW Regional VP, listening is a critical piece to success. And that might sound pretty obvious - listening to clients, listening to colleagues, listening to other chapter leaders, listening to sponsors ... duh, right? But, it's harder than most people think and a skill that gets better over time. Some people are really ready to spout their opinions and viewpoints without really listening to the person they are talking to ... and I mean REALLY listening, ACTIVELY listening. Active listening requires you really hearing and understanding to the fullest extent what something or someone is saying without your ego or own thoughts muddying the waters. It requires critical thinking and you also asking questions to get further clarification and meaning so you really understand the full picture and their perspective. I see it all the time and almost every day and in many different contexts. For example, bartenders that submit entries for a cocktail competition - they didn't really "listen" to the rules and as a result, are disqualified. Or, bartenders in a job interview, they have their own idea of what cocktail program they want to do vs really listening to the bar owner or brand representative and what they are looking for. Or, an interaction with a customer / guest - them regurgitating the house or event rules vs really listening to them and helping to solve their problem. Or, employees that are so set and rigid in their own ways - they can be super organized, but they lack the ability to really listen to others. It's a skill that can take a lifetime to develop!
Who do you look up to and why?
I have a lot of people I look up to in this industry for many reasons - Tony Abou-Ganim, Dale DeGroff, David Wondrich - all have a strong sense of humility and compassion and a great sense of hospitality and knowledge in this industry. But, I would also point to Charlotte Voisey. What she's been about to do for our industry, as a woman, no less, is so impressive. ... I really don't know if people are fully aware of the kind of effect our industry has had as a result of her work and relationships that have been built as a result of her. It actually might be decades before we can look back and be able to see the impact she's had. Everything from her ability to be compassionate and help others, to leading the team that she does, to setting the bar high of what a brand ambassador should be, to the creative direction and vision and just the way she handles herself in difficult situations, always responsive, sense of humor - the whole shebang!
Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself that we might not know.
When I lived in NYC, I did quite a bit of casting and production work. I helped produce about 25 short films for HBO, as both the casting director and associate producer. Also, I majored in Pre-Med. I wanted to be an OB-GYN, prior to moving to NYC.
What does the future hold for you?
I'm in the process of creating a bigger consultancy / agency with multiple employees. This year (fingers crossed), building out a training facility here in Phoenix to include a drink development space, production space for our "fast-craft" cocktails for large scale events and office space.
What is your least-favorite word?
"no" or "can't"
What is your favorite word?
"yes!" or "can!"
What turns you on?
People who step up and take responsibility. Even if something goes wrong or didn't turn out the way they thought it would, people who take ownership and work to solve the problem all the while with a great attitude.
What turns you off?
Negative attitudes or people who pass the buck and push the blame off themselves.
What noise(s) or sound(s) do you love?
People laughing (especially my kids).
What noise(s) or sound(s) do you hate?
Actually, it's the absence of noise that I hate - silence!
Which profession (other than your own) would you like to attempt?
Marketing Director for a brand
Which profession would you not like to try?
Being an attorney (the thought of arguing for a living gives me a headache).
If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?
"You can stop working. Daiquiris for everyone!"