JEN AKIN - RUMBA SEATTLE

Tell us about yourself, your background, and how you came to work in the industry:

I started at Applebee's in my hometown of Lawrence, KS when I was 18. I was a hostess, then server, then I moved to the back of house as the flat-top grill cook. I left to be a too-cool-for-school barista when I was 19. I worked at the first organic and fair-trade certified coffee shop and roastery in the state of Kansas.I worked there for over seven years as a barista, manager and eventually as a roaster. I also picked up shifts at my favorite bar in town, The Replay Lounge; a real rad and super divey bar with pinball, live shows, and $1.50 Hamm's. I was the "beer trough" girl, and sat out on the back patio pulling ice cold $2..50 PBR tall boys out of an actual horse trough filled with ice and beer. I LOVED that job. I was in school studying Biology and Chemistry with plans to go to medical school. So I worked in hospitals and hospice for three years and took a break from the service industry. I moved to Kansas City to finish school and worked again in restaurants including an Irish Pub and an award winning beer bar and brewery. I decided to move to Seattle for a change of scenery, so I moved home to save money and got a job as the lunch/brunch bartender at an amazing restaurant called 715. We made everything in house and it was my first experience with craft cocktails. I made my first cocktaill-a sazerac-at this restaurant, and I made it wrong, but I fell in love. From there, the rest is history. I moved to Seattle in 2012, was hired at Local 360 where I learned about local distilleries, breweries and wineries. I worked at The Tin Table, and Oliver's Twist-which is where I developed my first published cocktail, The Charley Bates. I also had a stint at Tavern Law and their upstairs Speakeasy, The Needle & Thread. I then moved to Ashland, Oregon to remodel and rebuild a Boutique Hotel Bar called Alchemy at The Winchester Inn. I developed and ran my own cocktail program and increased cocktail sales by 250%. We ended up with a collection of over 400 bottles. I then moved back to Seattle to work at Rumba, what has been and still is my favorite bar. I've been here since October of 2016 and have been GM since November of 2017.

 

Can you tell us about the first time you had a truly exceptional Tiki cocktail and the “Aha” moment that moved you to embrace Tiki?

My first tiki experience was actually at Rumba: Rumba is not a tiki bar, but we have a very popular tiki night every Wednesday and we have tiki-inspired cocktails on our everyday drink menu. I love the aspect of tiki of appealing to every sense we have. The smell of burnt cinnamon, the visuals of fire and beautiful garnishes, and the explosion of flavor. Plus tiki is such a social drinking trend, its more fun with friends and I love the mood around it: people are always happy when they have a tiki drink in front of them.

 

What inspires you when creating cocktails? Do you have a favorite spirit or ingredient that you consider to be a key element or “secret weapon” in your cocktail mixing repertoire?

 

My secret weapon is The Flavor Bible. I like to focus on a spirit or ingredient and build upon that. I'll find something at the grocery store or we will get a new rum in and I'll find inspiration in some element of that. Then using the Flavor Bible, I'll work on flavors and ingredients that will work and compliment the drink.

 

Tell us about your most memorable moment behind the bar, and the achievements you feel proudest of in regards to your work in the industry.

I have so many amazing memories from behind the bar. I think the moments I share with guests when I can give them a great experience are the one's that mean the most to me. I'd say my proudest accomplishments are the individuals that I've had the pleasure of training and influencing in the bar community. Being called someone's mentor is the greatest feeling.

 

If you could spend an evening over cocktails with a bartender or influencer in Tiki, living or deceased, who would it be, and where would you go?

 

I mean, Jerry Thomas of course! He's the original. But also, the Rainbow Room with Dale DeGroff would be so rad.

 

How can people get in touch or learn more about you?

Find Rumba @rumbaseattle on Instagram and Twitter, and on facebook.com/rumbaseattle.

 

You can find me @jenakinmecrazy on Instagram and Twitter and on facebook.com/jenlovesponies

 

Signature Recipe

Tick Tock:

1 oz Light Cuban Style Rum
0.5 oz Smith & Cross
0.5 oz Skipper
0.5 oz Punt E Mes
0.25 oz Clove-Mint Syrup
0.25 oz Laphroaig Select
Stir, serve up, Lemon twist

CHELSEA BARRETTPEARL'S SOCIAL & BILLY CLUB, BROOKLYN 

Tell us about yourself, your background, and how you came to work in the industry.

Bartending started out as a way of having a certain amount of freedom and flexibility while I explored other career opportunities. Eventually I found a love for mixing drinks decided to dedicate myself fully to the craft. In retrospect it makes sense though. My dad is a chef and restauranteur, which he followed in my grandmother’s footsteps on. So food, drink and hospitality are in my blood. 

Can you tell us about the first time you had a truly exceptional Tiki cocktail and the “Aha” moment that moved you to embrace Tiki?

It would have to be a drink a former bar manager made for me. I think it was a fog cutter. Which is a super boozy drink comprised of a quite a few spirits. It tasted pretty devine. I was like “what is this?” -quite genuinely confused how a drink could be so complex, boozy and delicious. Up until then I think I’d really only had glorified boat drinks served in tiki mugs. I started to think, “ok, there’s a lot more I can do with drinks”. Tiki is fun because it’s like anything goes. It’s all about mixing ingredients to create surprising flavors. The best tiki drinks let the spirit shine through while also expressing layers of flavor.

What inspires you when creating cocktails?  Do you have a favorite spirit or ingredient that you consider to be a key element or “secret weapon” in your cocktail mixing repertoire?

I’m inspired by food a lot. I’ll be eating something and go “ooh that flavor with that flavor oh man, how would that translate in a drink?” I tend to approach cocktail making a lot like preparing food. I like to make my own ingredients for cocktails a lot and often approach that similarly to creating a sauce or a soup. There’s a base method then it’s a bit of this, a dash of that. I have an affinity for rum, but enjoy working with all spirits. I use hibiscus a lot in a concentrated tea form. It’s amazing how many ways I’ve found to use that stuff. Sherbets are also super useful and really delicious. I find them really satisfying to make too. Oh and shrubs! I love shrubs!

Tell us about your most memorable moment behind the bar, and the achievements you feel proudest of in regards to your work in the industry.

 

Some of my most memorable moments behind the bar now are definitely women who tiki events! So cool getting to sling tiki drinks with all those incredible women. I also love getting the opportunity to bartend in different settings.

I felt super proud when I got to put my drink, the Adult Swim, on the menu at Mother of Pearl. It was the first time that happened and it was really cool to see my creation being enjoyed by so many people in that setting. I love making drinks that make people excited and happy. Those are my most memorable moments.

If you could spend an evening over cocktails with a bartender or influencer in Tiki, living or deceased, who would it be, and where would you go?

 

And then there was the time when Christalle Harris, one of the owners of Rum Fire, came to Pearl’s and I got to make her our signature Rum Fire cocktail. I’d probably go to Jamaica and have more drinks with Christalle. That would be pretty great.

How can people get in touch or learn more about you? (Social media handles, website, etc.)

 

@permanent_baecation

chelseabarrett@gmail.com

chelseabarrett.com (coming soon)

GARCELLE MENOS, RUM CONSULTANT, BROOKLYN, NY

 

 

 

Tell us about yourself, your background, and how you came to work in the industry.

Once upon a time, before Garcelle brought her bartending talents to New York City, she was handling bottle service at a few of Miami’s hotspots. 

It was there I fell in love with hospitality. I mean we all have humble beginnings, mine involved ritzy club goers and midnight espresso shots to keep up with all that nightlife energy.

 

Can you tell us about the first time you had a genuinely exceptional Tiki cocktail and the “Aha” moment that moved you to embrace Tiki?

I was helping the crew at Solomon and Kuff create a new cocktail for their summer 2017 menu, and as we were building this cocktail, I realized it was mirroring the classic Jet Pilot recipe, and that wasn’t even on purpose. I started doing a bit more research accompanied by development going to all my favorite watering holes and having bartenders create their own riffs on a Jet Pilot. It was during visits that I realized how impactful tiki is and the wave it’s revving up these days.

 

What inspires you when creating cocktails? Do you have a favorite spirit or ingredient that you consider to be a key element or “secret weapon” in your cocktail mixing repertoire?

When whipping up a cocktail, I always try and keep things as simple as possible. Growing up in a Haitian household sometimes you’re forced to be extremely resourceful because old school Caribbean parents aren’t the spoiling type, this translates in my drink making as well. I think to start with tropical flavors I grew up around like Soursop, Passion Fruit, and guava- let’s not forget the spices that bring brightness and depth to citrus juices like anise, clove, pimento, and our beloved nutmeg. Sometimes I can get ambitious with eight ingredient cocktails which can be exciting and challenging, but for the most part, I always begin with a minimalist approach and build from there. 

 

“Girls just want to have RUM!” So, of course, my favorite spirit is r(h)um. I used to a particular affinity for agricole (and it does still hold a special place in my heart), but I love the entire category of r(h)um- I can no longer discriminate. Rum and all its categorical anomalies are what I love and what makes it so diverse. Rum is so good to us imbibers; it gives us everything from a go-to mixing rum like top whites/blancs, to the elegant sippers like the oak and butter forward aged expressions.  

 

Tell us about your most memorable moment behind the bar, and the achievements you feel proudest of in regards to your work in the industry. That one time at band camp, I’m kidding! During my tenure at Miss Lily’s 7a, back in 2016, we had cocktails specials that ran seasonally. I remember I was asked to contribute to the creation of that seasonal cocktail for autumn which was a Caribbean Sazarac variation made with Barbancourt 8 year. That R&D process was challenging in a way that forced me to step outside of my fruity and tart palate. 

That challenge fostered more technique in my very own cocktail building, which is extremely helpful as a brand ambassador- you always have to be ready to make suggestions and balanced substitutions for clients and accounts. 

 

If you could spend an evening over cocktails with a bartender or influencer in Tiki, living or deceased, who would it be, and where would you go?

Since we’re appreciating all the ladies here, cheers to the queens who have gathered all the tiki loving women to chat all things Tiki but I have to say- a night of great cocktails and an even better tiki conversation would have to be in the company of influencer Daniele Dalla Pola. I admire his colorful and spunky approach to Tiki. Dalla Pola takes classics and makes them fun (I mean Tiki is always fun yeah!) and inviting. I appreciate that he executes tiki with respect to it as a culture that encompasses art, fashion, and history. 

 

How can people get in touch or learn more about you? (Social media handles, website, etc.)

Insta: @garcellemybelle, garcellemybelle.com (coming soon to a URL near you) 

 

 

SIGNATURE RECIPE

No Smoking On The Aircraft 

1oz Boukam Rhum 

1oz Hamilton Jamaican Pot Still Black Rum 

.75 oz Pineapple Juice 

.5 oz Falernum

.5 oz lime 

.25 cinnamon syrup 

Shake all ingredients and fine strain into an absinthe-rinsed coupe. 

Garnish- torched rosemary sprig.

 

 

 

 

 

MEGAN LAZAR - THE POLYNESIAN, NYC

Tell me about yourself, your background, and how you came to work in the industry.

Growing up in Northern California, I had the pleasure of being surrounded by bountiful farmland. I would walk through farmer’s markets at a young age picking out anything I didn’t recognize and tasting the cornucopia that grew around me. My love of exploring tastes and smells naturally led me to the restaurant industry.

Can you tell us about the first time you had a truly exceptional Tiki cocktail and the “Aha” moment that moved you to embrace Tiki?

I was 21 and my friend decided to take me to take me to Smuggler’s Cove. At that age, I had no idea what to order beyond a glass of wine. I looked wide eyes at the bartender like a lost puppy. A few minutes later a tall green cocktail stood in front of me, The Chartreuse Swizzle. I was awe-struck. Never had I tasted anything so delightful. From then on, I was hooked.

 

What inspires you when creating cocktails?  Do you have a favorite spirit or ingredient that you consider to be a key element or “secret weapon” in your cocktail mixing repertoire?

Honestly, I am most often inspired by people and places when I make a cocktail. I try to re-create the sensation achieve through interacting with the world around me. Cocktails have the ability to introduce our guests to these sensations, transcending time and space. Most of my repertoire is fairly culinary driven with a focus on botanicals. Flowers and plants make everything more

delicious.

 

Tell us about your most memorable moment behind the bar, and the achievements you feel proudest of in regards to your work in the industry.

My proudest moment behind the bar came years ago. It was the first time I made my father a cocktail. I was fumbling around like a complete dweeb. I dropped my jigger. My shake was not quite right yet. But as I placed that cocktail in front of my father, I was beaming with joy at what I had learned. Over the years, I continue to push myself to learn and absorb as much as I can. Whether working through different shakes or making twenty different variations of the same drink, I’m never more proud than when I serve someone I love.

 

If you could spend an evening over cocktails with a bartender or influencer in Tiki, living or deceased, who would it be, and where would you go?

 When I used to work at Absinthe in San Francisco, I would get out of work at 1:00 am and walk a few blocks to Smuggler’s Cove. I would sit in front of the wonderful, Mr. Liles, and ask him to pour me a drink. For the next hour or so we’d shoot the shit, I’d ask him all the questions I had about the category of rum and tiki. He’d kindly oblige my hunger for education. To just be back in that bar stool, shooting the shit and drinking rum.

 

How can people get in touch or learn more about you? You can follow me on instagram @megroninyc

SIGNATURE RECIPE

Ibuprofen

1 oz Lemon

1/2 oz Orange

1 oz Pineapple

1/2 tsp Passionfruit

3/4 oz Ginger Syrup

1 oz Coconut Cream

2 oz White Port

1/2 oz Plymouth Gin

2 dashes Orange Bitters

4 dashes Absinthe .

 

Add all ingredients to a tin. Blend with agitators. Pour into a footed pilsner glass. Garnish with a mint sprig and an orange slice