Job Title: USBG National President and "Director of Mixology"
Location: San Francisco, California
Place of Business: Southern Wine and Spirits of Northern California, and owner of Mr. Mojito
Time Spent Bartending: 19 Years
Total Time in Industry: 28 Years
Favorite job you ever had:
Bartending at Enrico’s Sidewalk Café and National President of USBG
Long and refreshing cocktails that are nice and sour…and of course the Negroni
Wherever I am served by a member of the USBG.
Where did you grow up, and what was it like there?
Well I moved around a bit, but I consider my four years of High school pretty influential. This was the Town of Mendocino, California…yep the little town on the coast. I lived six miles inland in the town of Little River surrounded by redwood trees. It was quiet, I had no TV. It was a time of my life where I started to discover who I was. I learned that the cards you are dealt don’t mean anything. You must make your bed if you want sleep in it. You are whoever you want to be.
Favorite childhood memory?
My summer camp memories a JCA in Southern Californa. It wasn’t one memory, it was 11 summers of my life. Age 7 to 18. I can’t say the summer camp saved my life, because life was pretty normal in the grand scheme of things, but it played a major role in who I am today.
What do you like best about what you do?
I have always been very proud of being a bartender, but to be honest, I have not collected tips for nearly 10 years. While I still consider myself a bartender, I am actually a “motivational” speaker for bartenders now.
I get to use my passion and experience of the craft and inspire all types of bartenders to realize their potential and teach them what they have not had the opportunity to learn behind the bar and join the ranks of bartenders who truly love service, creativity, and the craft of bartending.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
That I am able to do what I set out to do: Inspire bartenders to care more and to take their position as a bartender as a profession more seriously.
I love watching bartender grow from someone who on average had simple on-the- job bartender training or little to no training by today’s standards and then discover the skills needed to craft a well-balanced and thoughtful cocktail while fully embracing what it means to be a hospitality professional.
What do you do to relax outside of work?
It seems I ever quite the time to fully enjoy the outdoors to the extent that I would like, but to find myself camping and hiking are some of my greatest joys. At home I have learned to love yoga, cycling, and traditional fitness regimes.
On the beach in a hut at some remote location like Fiji…such a typical dream, but until I get to do it, it will remain my dream!!
While there are so many quick witted quotes out there, I find myself quoting three friends often:
- “Never underestimate the value of a garnish.” -Tony Abou-Ganim
- “Make it fresh, Keep it simple.” -Armando Rosario
- “Too tart, too sweet, too strong or too weak, just let me know and I am happy to adjust it for you.” -James VanLiere
Advice you could offer to others:
Work with a sense of urgency, leave the bar as you would want it left for you, if you don’t love what you do, quit. Don’t ask someone, "What do you want to drink?" Offer them cocktail menu and make a suggestion. This may be obvious to some of us, but I can tell you how many times I hear, "Hey, how are ya, what can I get ya?"
Who do you look up to?
It is not so much as who I look up to, but who do I appreciate. There are so many bartenders out there who I have learned form. I am so appreciative of all the tricks, tips, and recipes I have been able to use on a daily basis...all I can say is thank you! There are just too many names to mention them all. Marco Dionysos, Jacques Bezuidenhout, Julio Bermejo, Tony Abou-Ganim, Livio Lauro, Francesco Lafranconi, and Aaron Gregory Smith have been some of my best friends and mentors.
Tell us something unusual or unique about yourself that we might not know.
I ride a unicycle, maybe not that often, but hey, can you?
What does the future hold for you?
2016 will by my 14th year as a member of the UBSG! I've been a member of the California Chapter, a founding member of the San Francisco Chapter, served 6 years as the SF Treasurer, and am now in my 3rd term as National President. It is quite clear I love being part of the USBG community!
The future for me? I want to continue helping others find their passion for the cocktail and the USBG. I will continue to volunteer as President until a member is ready to take on this journey and lead the USBG into the future.