January 2012 Bartender of the Month: Joseph DeLuca
Name: Joseph DeLuca
Establishment Name: Light Bistro in Cleveland, Ohio
Recent Gigs: Since starting his career at Ray’s Place in Kent, Ohio, during college, DeLuca has dedicated more than 20 years to serving guests from "behind the stick" as a professional bartender. After school, he spent the mid-90s in Austin, Texas, learning upscale mixology and finding a passion for educating the next generation of bartenders at the Texas School of Bartenders. He and his wife Sheila returned to Northeast Ohio at the turn of the millennium to start a family and bring to Cleveland DeLuca’s commitment to educating bartenders and teaching people to drink better.
As the principal of Beverage Resources, DeLuca teaches bar owners, managers and staff on-premise beverage profitability. Beverage Resources services include inventory auditing, the creation of training manuals, POS programming, training and educational seminars for bartenders and management teams and operations development tailored to each client’s needs.
DeLuca also takes his skills on the road with Dr. Drink’s Traveling Apothecary Show. His spirits sampling classes and mixology workshops are offered through restaurants and bars as ticketed events, for corporate parties and retreats and as home parties. Each month he donates his time and talent to the charity fundraising organization Dinner in the Dark both as libation raconteur and beverage director.
Most recently he was a national finalist for Nightclub & Bar magazine’s 2011 Shake it Up! cocktail competition and the 2011 United States Bartenders' Guild (USBG)/Bacardi U.S. Cocktail Championships. He also serves as the vice president for the Ohio chapter of the USBG.
What’s in the Shaker: "Lots of eggs! I love working with silver and golden fizzes; the silky mouth feel of the proteins is a great vehicle for gin, cognac or even tequila. The drink I’m working on now is a mélange of egg yolk, silver tequila, Aperol, fresh grapefruit juice and lemon bitter soda. It’s a nice balance between the black pepper notes of the tequila and the brightness of citrus; the fat of the yolk tempers the heat of the drink while the soda lifts and lightens."
What You’re Sipping & Why: "I’m completely seduced by the ethereal floral notes in eau de vies, such as the great piscos Campo de Encanto and Pisco Porton. Also locally we have a great un-aged apple brandy from Tom’s Foolery Distillery that perfectly captures Ohio autumn in a glass."
What You're Dancing to While Mixing: "Before midnight, I like the grittiness of Tom Waits’ 'Gin Soaked Boy' or 'The Heart of Saturday Night'; they provide a great backdrop to classic cocktails and conversation. After the witching hour, I like to move into music that raises the heart rate above 120, like Bad Brains, Iggy Pop or Motorhead."
Quirks & Quotable: "My first boss, Charlie Thomas, a barman for whom I have the utmost respect, teaches how to make great business decisions: 'The guest, plus the employee, plus profitability equals the restaurant.' When making a business decision, if you can answer that it benefits all three parts of the equation, it’s probably a good decision. If it only benefits two parts, you better sleep on it. If it benefits one or less, you need to solve your problem differently."