September 2014 Bartender of the Month: Jeremy LeBlanc
Name: Jeremy LeBlanc
Current Position: President of TIN PLAY Precision Pour Flair Tins, LLC. and senior bartender and master mixologist for Altitude Sky Lounge
Recent Gigs: Jeremy LeBlanc is President of TIN PLAY Precision Pour Flair Tins, LLC. Jeremy began his bartending career at one of Boston’s busiest and most prominent clubs, “The Rack”. Moving to San Diego in 1999 he worked at a high volume tequila bar in Old Town San Diego trained and certified at one of the only two tequila houses in the United States by the prestigious Academia del Tequila. Drawing from his local experience, Jeremy helped Altitude Sky Lounge become a huge success on the San Diego night life scene. He currently serves as Altitude’s senior bartender and master mixologist, responsible for the establishment’s many signature drinks. Jeremy is the recent author of latest and greatest craft cocktail book released November 12, 1013 worldwide by Macmillan Publishing called “The Best Craft Cocktails & Bartending with Flair”. He just signed for his second book and will be released in November 2014, sharing his knowledge about North American Whiskey.
Why did you become a bartender?
Straight out of college I started working as a barback at a hometown restaurant bar. It was then that I clearly knew the hospitality industry was for me. I noticed right away that the bartenders had a good amount of freedom but also a great amount of responsibility. I am very personable so talking and hearing stories or experiences from others was fascinating to me. Once promoted from a barback to bartender, I started really focusing on the cocktails and the different spirits offered. I became hooked; I was having fun, meeting new people and really experimenting all while getting paid. Over the years I have worked in many different atmospheres from high end social clubs, tequila bars to the club scene in San Diego. The real answer to this question is I like people, the craft and I like to entertain and there is no better stage than from behind the bar!
What are some fun flavors you’re working with?
I’m really into trying most flavors; I’ll never pass one up. Some are better than others but that’s what being a mixologist is about. I enjoy making homemade syrups and in house bitters to mix with my concoctions. I’m into making fresh Rhubarb syrup for some great summertime cocktails.
What are you doing different from norm?
Well besides that I own and created a new set of bartools called TIN PLAY, I published my first craft cocktail book called “The Best Craft Cocktail & Bartending with Flair” and it is doing great! I just got picked up at Crate & Barrel and West Elm along with Barnes & Noble and of course Amazon. I was asked recently to write another book for my publisher geared towards whiskey. So I got together with my business partner and whiskey expert Chad Berkey from the Aero Club San Diego (Over 850 whiskies to choose from) and wrote my second publication. “The North American Whiskey Guide”, is set to release on November 11, 2014. We are really pumped for this as we took the whiskey guide to the next level. In our book we have blind tastings, Cigar pairings and craft cocktails from some of the best in our industry from across the country.
The real difference that I truly bring to our industry is I try every day to “Create the Experience” for all my patrons. I’m into flair, all kinds of flair. When you think of flair, as most, you are thinking about throwing up bottles but I’m thinking of that extra step I take for the customers whether it be tossing up bottles, napkins with a spin, muddling and educating them or simply lighting their glass on fire for a rinse. It creates a connection and that person feels comfortable and simply relaxes and feels like they fit. Believe me they will be back with all their friends!
What's in the mixing glass or shaker?
All sorts of good stuff, from every mule you can think of to craftiest cocktails on the market. Since the huge mule surge I have enjoyed making up new flavors to try and experiment with using fresh herbs, homemade bitters and of course on the quest for the best ginger beer!
What are you sipping on and why?
These days with my focus on my Whiskey Guide, I have been sipping on some great bourbon. Enjoying nice bourbon neat or even putting a twist to the whiskey sour by adding egg white. All in all I can’t lie I do enjoy kicking back with friends and drinking some Pacifico and Tequila. Hey, I am in Southern California!
What are you dancing to while mixing?
Let’s get this straight, I’m not much of a dancer and believe me I’m doing everyone a favor but from time to time I will get pumped up over a song or a beat. My setting goes from ultra-lounge to a club atmosphere San Diego style so I can be listening to top 40’s or to some of the best DJ’s in California. I’m as opened mined about music as I am about spirits!
What are some quirks/quotes you are known for?
Ah man I’m not sure. I do know that I can’t stand when another bartender puts bottles that don’t belong in the well ice. I get that we can get crazy busy but it kills me when I notice five bottles sitting in a well while others are looking for them. I definitely need access to all my shakers and muddles or it simply drives me nuts, other than that I’m pretty easy going guy to work with, but don’t ask my co-workers, they lie… Ha-ha…