I was born in California and have lived all over the US. I went back to wine country when I turned 21 to pursue a career in winemaking. From there I moved to New Mexico to open a restaurant, where I began exploring the cocktail world. Right now I live in both New Mexico and North Dakota, where I operate a multi-venue hospitality company.
My first real “bartending” experience was at my own restaurant. My background is wine and we began with a strong wine focus. But the market was looking for fresh cocktails, so I jumped behind the stick and started playing. It was tough, as I really didn’t have anyone to teach me, but it was so rewarding.
Wining the Bols Around the World competition and being part of a global bartending community - Dubai, Tokyo, Sydney and St. Petersburg are some of the stops of my Bols Around the World tour - have been the most amazing experiences of my life.
I have always enjoyed teaching and my work at two culinary schools was very rewarding. Right now I am really enjoying work that focuses on small markets. Spreading the love of cocktails to cities and towns outside of the mainstream. There is nothing like changing the way a community drinks!
Story of Your Current Bar
Currently I am working in Bismarck, ND on a large project. We have designed, from the ground up, three bars, each with their own unique identity, a catering events center, and a retail store. Humpback Sally’s is our small plates tavern featuring fresh craft cocktails. The rooftop “beergarden” is called Lüft and specializes in craft beers, as well as fresh signature cocktails. The third bar, 510.2 is a speakeasy style bar hidden behind a wall in the retail store. Potent Potables & Pop is our retail store where we sell artisanal spirits, as well as our own homemade sodas, bitters and tonic.
Tips & Tricks
Bartending is a two-handed sport. Practice with BOTH hands always. Learn to free pour properly, even if you prefer using a jigger. Speed is not about being fast, it is about being smart. EVERYTHING HAS A HOME, returning things in place is key. Set up your bar and never let it change. When you grab something, put it back where it lives. ..
Can’t Dutch This
1.5 oz Bols Genever
0.5 oz Bols Curacao
0.5 oz Chinese 5 Spice Syrup
1 oz Lemon Juice
0.5 oz Sugar Syrup
Shake and strain into a Collins glass filled with crushed ice.
I was born in Honolulu, raised in Nashua, NH and currently in in Roxbury, MA.
My first memorable bar experience is being 22 and going to the (now closed) B-Side Lounge with coworkers, drinking sidecars, and not realizing just how important that bar was to the revival of the cocktail scene in Boston. It was the first place I remember going and getting really great cocktails and stellar hospitality.
The first place I tended bar was in the only strip club in NH. The positives were getting to actually be behind a bar for the first time, the negatives were pretty much everything else. But I now have a bunch of really great stories to tell about my first time behind a bar!
Miss Speed Rack Boston 2011, 3 times Tales of The Cocktail Apprentice, 10 Mixologists to watch in 2013, Zagat’s Hot 30 under 30 in Boston 2013. Those were all highlights in my career, as well as getting to run several bar programs under Joy Richard with the Franklin Restaurant Group. In the future I would love to open my own project.
Story of Your Current Bar
I just left my current job as beverage director at The Franklin Cafe, and started a new job at Deep Ellum and Lone Star Taco Bar.
The best moment behind the bar with that group was not behind our actual bar, but behind the bar when we were competing at the Bare Knuckle Bar Fight at Tales Of The Cocktail in 2013, where we won The People's Choice award.
I spend a lot of my downtime at home, but when I'm not, you can usually find me at Delux, Tavern Road, Trina's Starlight Lounge, Brick and Mortar, and any number of fantastic dive bars.
I drive around the city a lot, but the T is usually a good way to get around town (except when there is 70 inches of snow on the ground)!
3 Tips to New Bartenders
- Multi-tasking is EVERYTHING
- A smile and a "hello" goes a long way
- Don't take yourself too seriously, but always take your job seriously
Your Signature Cocktail
2 oz Bols Genever
0.5 oz Bols Orange Curaçao
0.5 oz Lemon juice
0.5 oz Demerara syrup.
1 dash Angostura Bitters
Shake, strain, serve on the rocks, garnish with a grapefruit twist.
I was born in Oakland, California, when at the age of 3 my parents moved my family to Europe. Although I have lived on every continent, but Antarctica, I will always call San Francisco home.
The bug to live abroad took me to many countries, but it was my internship in Tokyo that first put me behind a bar, My Japanese internship didn’t pay, so a few coworkers took me to the busiest nightclub in Roppongi, the club district of Tokyo, where I got the courage to ask for a cocktail serving position. I started the next day. This vodka-soda kinda bar had one rule - you MUST have a drink in your hand to stay there! I spent my night tapping empty-handed dancers, pointing a flashlight to my chest where a laminated sign in six languages had the “menu”. A month or so later I had an accident that left my arm with third degree burns and had to miss a week of work. My return was during the hottest week that summer. My bandaged arm started to bother me, so I removed my wrap and continued with my shoulder taps. To this day I will always hate Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping”: as it played, people started jumping around and some guy spilled his drink on my arm, misunderstanding my screams of pain, he took the back of his hand and graciously wiped the drink away, along with my blisters. This was the first time I ever kicked someone out of a bar. I immediately went behind the bar to tend to my arm, as it was during the busy time of night, I started helping making drinks. Upon my return to work, I found my sign was replaced with an apron and I had my first bartending gig!
Story of your current bar
I am currently behind the stick at two bars in San Francisco: Hard Water and Devil’s Acre.
It’s hard to say what my best moment behind the bar is, I’ve made drinks for celebrities (President Obama, Prince Charles, John Waters), broke sales records, been nominated for best bartender in San Francisco, but it comes down to changing a guest’s idea of what they think gin is, or what “sweet” really means, or even getting them excited about the history of Dr. Peychaud - those are the moments that make me do this day in and day out.
As I write this, it is 65 degrees in February, I am eating a green bartlett pear that is no bigger than my hand, but is so flavorful that I might actually cry J
However, this is still San Francisco, and I must work 6-8 shifts a week to afford those tasty pears, so what little downtime I have is with friends - eating, drinking, exploring, but mostly being a little lazy. The great thing about my city is there is always something happening - a new bar menu, an art gallery that is showing a friend’s work - something to do, somewhere to go. There are a few places you might find be above all others, whether it be the pasta at Flour & Water, the small patio of Royal Cuckoo, or the salted black licorice that reminds me of my youth at Miette in Hayes Valley. I am always ready to go to the next spot.
“Although you might fight from time to time, San Francisco will always welcome you home”.
Tips & Tricks
I will answer this with a letter to my younger self:
Keli, as much as it pains me to say, you will never be one of those bartenders, you know the ones, so save yourself a few years and a few more horrible two day hangovers and make your own path. Embrace your strengths, don’t worry about missing out on things, if they don’t know who you are - that’s their loss, not yours. You will never be too old to follow your dreams. Bring others up with you, remember Miles Davis - “surround yourself with greatness and you’ll always look good”. Listen more than you talk. You don’t have to finish every drink. You will learn all you need to know about recipes, techniques and day to day operations over time, most importantly, geek out about everything, wear your heart on your sleeve, make everything count, be sincere, be gracious, always be kind.
Yet Another Improved Gin Cocktail
2 oz Barrel Aged Bols Genever
0.25 oz Pear Brandy (I like Cap Rock’s)
1 bar spoon of gum syrup
3 dashes of Orange Bitters
3 dashes of Abbott’s Bitters
Stir all ingredients over ice, strain over hand cut clear ice cube. Garnish with grapefruit peel and fresh grated cinnamon.
I was born and raised in a small town in Massachusetts called Mattapoisett. However, bartending brought me to Providence, RI 10 years ago and I’ve been here ever since.
I had a love-hate relationship with school. I hated the structure of classes, however when I got to choose what I wanted to learn about, I thrived.
At my first bar job I started out cocktail waitressing, however I quickly made the jump to the bar. It was magically, a nightclub. It was dirty and I loved every minute of it. Sure there were crazy nights, but, at the end of the night, it felt like I just threw the biggest party and that was the best feeling for me.
Over the years I’ve been fortunate to be recognized for my hard work. I’ve been nominated for James Beard Award twice, been part of the Tales of the Cocktail Apprentice Program, was named a Top 10 Mixologist in Beverage Media Magazine, and won a variety of different cocktail competitions all before the age of 26.
Right now I am living my dream of being a brand ambassador for a company that my whole heart is a part of. One day I’ll open a bar of my own, but until then, I will continue to make people love Bols Genever as much as I do.
Best Moment Behind the Bar
I think I can say my favorite moment is when a guest comes in for the first time and they had such a great time that they become a regular. That’s the best feeling for me, that’s how I know I’ve done my job.
My favorite place in Providence is my home. I have a great little house with an awesome backyard. When I get the chance, I love spending as much time there as possible.
There are so many great places around town, to just hang out and have coffee or breakfast by myself. I love going to Coffee Exchange or Kitchen. For food and drinks we love The Dorrance, Trinity, Faust, the Grange, North, and, of course, The Eddy.
My favorite little gems are the secret beaches that are all over Rhode Island. Beavertail, Matunuck, Westport bird reservation, and so many more.
Providence is very tiny, and anything that you would want to get to is at the most a mile away. If I need to get somewhere quickly, I take my bike, however most of the time I walk. There’s so much beauty in the city, I like to take it all in and try to notice something new every time.
Tips to Bartenders
Think of shortcuts to getting things done – inventory, orders, etc. I’ve always believed having someone help you is the key to getting all of the behind the scenes work done. Just because you run a bar does not mean you have to do it all by yourself - utilize your team! Teach them how to do inventory, place orders, make syrups, plan menus. You’ll be amazed how much you can get done, and maybe if they learn enough, you can go on vacation once in a while!
Switch off after a shift. My boyfriend always meets me after shift, he is a cook so he gets out around the same time as me. We usually go back home, make sandwiches for each other and talk about our days. It’s one of my favorite times.
Pre-shift ritual helps get things started: I always come into work 1 or 2 hours early just to hang out and get into the mood of work. I like to get all my prep done right away then take a while to catch up with my coworkers and have a coffee or two.
Make smart clothing choices: jeans, tank top, danskos
2 oz Bols Genever
0.25 oz Bols Maraschino
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
Bols Genever Daiquiri
2 oz Bols Genever
0.75 oz Lime juice
0.5 oz Simple syrup
I was born and raised in Belmont, MA and lived in Cambridge before I moved out to Los Angeles in 2013.
My first job as a bartender didn’t happen until I moved to LA. My experience as a server only brought me so far, because I learned immediately how drastically different it was to function behind a bar versus out on the floor. I had to learn a whole new set of physical and mental skills that I hadn’t anticipated. I also learned that if I had ever wanted to be a hand model, that dream was long gone as soon as I stepped behind the bar J.
My career as a bartender is still very new, and I’ve had some ups and downs, just like anyone else, but I truly love the direction my life and career have gone since I started bartending. I can’t wait to see where things go from here, particularly as Girls with Bols starts to grow!
Story of Your Current Bar
My current job is at the Melrose Umbrella Co. in West Hollywood. I’ve been there for about a year now and I couldn’t ask for a more fun, rewarding job. We have cultivated the most wonderful crowd of regulars, some of who have become good friends of mine over the past year. Every person at that bar loves what they do, and it shows through the quality of the drinks, the feeling of camaraderie and family we have between the staff members, and the amount of straight up, awesome, crazy fun we have both on and off shift. If working 12 straight hours on Repeal Day, making $5 Old Fashioneds for the entire City of Los Angeles, and still wanting to hang out there after getting cut doesn’t say “I love this place”, then I don’t know what does.
LA is an incredible city to live in. It is impossible to discover everything this city has to offer in one lifetime, and I love that. Coming from Massachusetts, where the law prohibits Happy Hour (boo!), I am still in love with going to Happy Hour two years later.
From exploring the late-night taco options—or any late night food for that matter, to getting lost on hikes in the canyons, to playing with dogs at the dog adoption/pet supply store (the happiest place on earth), to year-round farmer’s markets… There is no shortage of fun things to do. Oh, and in case you haven’t heard—the weather is perfect all the time.
Tips & Tricks
Just because certain outfits look cute and feel fine at first, doesn’t mean they are the right choice behind the bar. I’m a girl, I might never learn. Also, there is a way to harness your sassiness to control rowdy/inappropriate guests and not get in trouble (and once you figure it out, it’s really fun). Lastly, give your body time to recover. It is absolutely necessary. For me, that comes in the form of yoga, healthy food, sleep, and also a few days/weeks/months here and there with no alcohol. Yep, I said it. Order a soda and bitters and give your liver a nap.
One of my favorite quotes is by the poet Hafiz and it speaks to many different aspects of my life, both personal and professional. Create a culture of giving and our lives will be richer: