Editor’s Note: Russell Davis, continues to make waves on the West Coast after moving to San Francisco. No matter what hat he’s wearing or job he’s tackling — mixologist, teacher, entrepreneur or perhaps even mad scientist — Davis’ passion lies not only in perfecting the various techniques used in his innovative and creative signature cocktails, but also in modeling the art of being a true barman. He has appeared on numerous episodes of Bar Rescue and will be participating in the 2014 Nightclub & Bar Show next week. Here is his take on the show.
For me, the most exciting part about the Nightclub & Bar Show is that so many industry professionals come together to see where we are now and where we're going. It’s great to see how far the profession of bartending has come. The bar industry has become very mainstream which is awesome, and now we are seeing people elevate this profession to heights that no one has ever seen before. The opportunities available and the direction where we can take our industry, professions, and careers are so infinite right now, and the Nightclub & Bar Show continues to open the doors for many professionals who choose to seize those opportunities.
My opportunity came in 2012 at the Show when I became the 2012 Bartender of the Year. It was the game changing accomplishment of my career, and something that I worked very hard to earn. I had wanted that award for years and never shifted my eyes from the prize. Not only is Nightclub & Bar one of (if not THE) biggest and oldest bar industry award shows/conventions in the world, but it’s also the one that I feel bridges the gap between the many different styles of this industry.
I was a finalist for Bartender of the Year two times in a row the previous years (and lost to two different people) before finally being named Bartender of the Year, so, as you can imagine, I really wanted it and I’ll never forget reading the headline of the article, “From Southern Gentleman to San Francisco Businessman, Russell Davis is the ‘Aristocrat of the Working Class.” That was one of the coolest things anyone has ever said about me. Made me very proud to know that all of my hard work; my blood, sweat and tears; had meant something. I’ve given a lot to this industry, to the profession, and to my career, sometimes at great cost, and the absolute honor that I felt was genuinely one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It wasn’t just something I won; it was something I worked for.
I return every March to the show and this year, I will be a very busy man. Please, don’t miss my session on Monday at 2:10PM, “Going Above and Beyond Behind the Bar” where I will be talking about how to elevate the profession of bar tending and be answering questions and giving advice on how to take your career as a professional bartender to the next level. I’ll also be popping in and out of the Spike TV booth #801 throughout the show. Make sure to come find me at the Bar Rescue Happy Hour, of course. But, if you really want to try and find me, make sure you follow me on twitter @Russell_Davis which will be the best way to track me down. Maybe if you catch me, I’ll let you buy me a drink.
Since I’m a pro at navigating the show I have a couple of pointers for you to make the most out of it.
1. The sky is the limit with this industry right now. Seize every opportunity and don’t be afraid to move on the crazy ideas that present themselves. Have an open mind and embrace all that the show has to offer.
2. Talk to as many people as possible. Make connections, exchange cards and social media info. It’s what you know AND who you know in this world.
3. Have fun, but don’t let that interfere with your focus for being here. Also, make sure to give me a “high five” if you see me.
In all honesty, with all of the cool stuff going on - the terrific sponsors, bad ass venues, the industry guests and celebrity appearances, you’re gonna have fun no matter what Nightclub & Bar Show events you attend.
Now, when talking about the Nightclub & Bar Show you can’t not talk about Jon Taffer; one of the founding members of the show and its current president.
I love working with Jon Taffer on Bar Rescue and off camera as well. It’s truly a pleasure and an honor. Jon has become like a big brother to me and a very dear friend. From the first day I ever worked with him, I have been amazed and intrigued on how intelligent he is and how his mind operates. He really runs on another level, its superhuman. He’s also just a super nice and caring guy. Type of guy who really looks out for the people around him and acts with passion based upon intellect, which is really rare these days.
I love the times that we get to brainstorm ideas or menus. He and I work very well together. I feel like once he has an idea and begins to paint that “picture", I’m able pick up on what he’s laying down pretty quickly and it’s a lot of fun to have that kind of momentum. He is also a big joker, which is something people don’t really get to see, but I’m the same way. He has a library of jokes for all situations and he is able to reference them instantaneously, and will. It’s awesome. And, considering the types of stressful situations we find ourselves in, it’s nice to hear a joke or two to lighten the mood.