July 2014 Bartender of the Month: William Fanning
Name: William Fanning
Establishment: Bartender, Hyde Bellagio Las Vegas / Editor-in-Chief, BAR Magazine
Recent Gigs: William Fanning is the editor-in-chief of Bar & Restaurant Magazine (BandR.com) and the creator of The Bar & Restaurant Exchange (theBRX.com), an online collaborative which allows experts and operators to share information on all aspects of the service industry. Having worked extensively in literally every front of the house position over his 15 year career, he now focuses on administrative systems and operational efficiency. Fanning is currently a bartender for Hyde Las Vegas. Oddly passionate about organization, he is always happy to “talk shop” with any interested parties (especially over a beer).
Why did you become a bartender?
My first bar gig was actually in The Netherlands when I was 18 years old. Unfortunately, once I moved back to the states I had to wait until I was once again of legal age. That gig was at the Friar's Club where I worked at the bar Milton Berle.
What are some fun flavors you’re working with?
I work with fresh fruit, whatever is in season. So many bartenders get caught up trying to "out-ingredient" one another when the best flavors are often right in front of them.
What are you doing differently?
It's probably what I am not doing, in that I like to avoid making improvements to spirits and products that don't require modification. I think it's funny when "mixologist" (which I am not) take something like an aged Rhum Agricole, put it in a cocktail, then take credit for it tasting so good. It's a bit like a 3rd party spoiler manufacturer taking credit for the entire Porsche.
What's in the mixing glass or shaker for your customers?
I mix up whatever the customer wants. I am but a guide through one's imbibing options. And while I am happy to expose people to my personal recommendations, I never forget that the best drink is a relative term, and I am always sure to respect that whatever it may be.
What are you sipping on and why?
Scotch with occasional forays into other aged spirits. To me the time and passion put into these products is the real art form.
What are you dancing to while mixing?
What the DJ is spinning. I think all types of music have merit (sometimes it just takes a while to find the right songs). For this reason I look at the variety in the music selection of bars as a way to get exposed to new sounds, although things do seem to be a little heavy on the electronic side.
What are some quirks/quotes you are known for?
Bartending is for life. Even with the magazine I still take shifts and plan on continuing to do so as long as I am physically able. Much more than a way to make money ... this a lifestyle. Bartending is a form of recreation, service and community that transcends the occupational designation.