A tortoise crawls into a bar and says to the bartender, "Have you seen my dad?"
"I don't know," says the bartender, "What does he look like?"
Chapter: USBG Tucson
Job title: Property Mixologist
Favorite job you ever had:
Running the nightclub at the world famous Hotel Congress.
Though I always say a Daiquiri, it’s probably a Gin Rickey, and nowadays I even prefer a Pisco Rickey with basil; dry as a bone. I’m always a fan of anything made by Micah Olson or Tyson Buhler. When all else fails, many scotch & sodas.
The Dungeon in New Orleans is maybe my favorite bar to re-visit. As far as cocktail bars go… I’ve got to give it up to Sean Kenyon’s Williams & Graham as not only a great bar, but also a breeding ground for top-notch talent. Tucson’s got one of my favorite watering holes, Sidecar. Also Zig Zag (Seattle), Crudo (Phoenix), Bitter & Twisted (Phoenix), Jerry Thomas Project (Rome), Nu Lounge (Bologna), Elixir (SFO), The Dorrance (Providence), the infamous Herbs & Rye (Las Vegas).
Where did you grow up, and what was it like there?
Tucson is this beautiful city in the heart of a desert valley, surrounded by tall mountains. It is a funky & unique slice of Southwestern culture—full of crazy characters, a great music scene and a healthy dose of poverty. It’s hot as hell, and though sometimes it can be hard to live here, it’s always been my home.
Favorite childhood memory?
Watching a demented fishing captain put a bullet in the head of a large halibut that my dad caught. Scared the Christ out of me.
What do you like best about what you do?
I’ve always enjoyed the cooking and science aspects of bartending, even when I wasn’t good at either of them. I love being in the zone when the music is blaring and the bar is two deep and I’m still in control of everything.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
The look on somebody’s face when they sip your drink and they are genuinely satisfied. Helping to develop a sense of community among bartenders. Helping new bartenders fine-tune their skills in order to become successful. Though so much of my job actually has more to do with nuts & bolts and crunching numbers, I do really enjoy the joy of creating something new.
What do you do to relax outside of work?
Also, travel has become a staple of life in this industry, and although it isn’t always relaxing, it is somewhat of an all-consuming hobby for me now.
I want to spend two weeks visiting distilleries in the UK.
Advice you could offer to others:
Absorb as much information as you can from books, blogs, and bottles. Network until you hate it. Practice every technique you can until your arms wear out. And for God’s sake—don’t be pretentious. Eventually everyone who actually matters in life will hate you for it.
Who do you look up to?
After doing BAR 5-Day, it’s hard to not include those guys as my top inspirations. Steve Olson, Dale DeGroff, Dave Wondrich, Andy Seymour, Paul Pacault & Doug Frost have shaped the careers and minds of so many of our industry leaders. Also, Ross Simon (Bitter & Twisted) for being single-minded and opening the bar of his dreams. And of course, I wouldn’t be in this industry still if it wasn’t for Tony Abou-Ganim.
Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself that we might not know.
My first job was actually doing radio commercials, as a kid. My first real job was working at the zoo; I had to work at a shitty ice cream stand next to the giant tortoise enclosure… all those damn things ever did was have sex. That noise never, ever leaves you.
What does the future hold for you?
It better have my own bar in it.