Mixologists are the new taste-makers and trend setters, not only in the bar scene but in the overall dining arena. No longer simply following the culinary trends, today’s cutting edge mixologists are setting new directions in terms of ingredients, flavors, preparation, presentation and food pairings.
Who are the influencers at the bar? Here, we look at five mixologists taking the craft in exciting new directions. Each will participate in the upcoming VIBE Conference as a Cameo Mixologist, so you’ll have a chance to see them in action, taste their creations and be inspired by their expertise and passion.
Giving Rum its Punch: Chesterfield Brown
International Brand Ambassador and Mixologist – Mount Gay Rum
In 1994 Chesterfield Browne, known as “Chester,” joined Mount Gay Distilleries, Ltd. after six years working as a bartender. Since then, he’s created many a recipe that has left a lasting impression with his guests, but he’s most famous for his own rum punch creation. In fact, it’s become known as the best tasting rum punch in Barbados and is proudly served as the welcome cocktail in most luxury resorts on the island.
Recognized for his skill at the bar and flair for guest service, he was nominated in the Barbados Minister of Tourism Awards, and won the coveted title of Bartender of the Year twice. Since being promoted to International Brand Ambassador for Mount Gay, Brown travels the world promoting the brand and the passion and pride of the people who work at Mount Gay Distilleries. He’s know for his encyclopedic knowledge of rum – from its origins and distillation to a range of cocktail applications – Brown is also recognized as a master of his craft.
Bar Chef Pioneer: Kathy Casey
Kathy Casey Food Studios - Liquid Kitchen
Kathy Casey is touted as the original bar chef. From her early days, when she played a key role in bringing Northwest cuisine and women chefs to national prominence and, as one of the first female executive chefs in the United States, was named one of Food & Wine Magazine’s “hot new American chefs,” she’s been a trend setter. In recent years, she’s applied that approach to marrying the kitchen and the bar. Now known as a savvy spotter of what's hot on the culinary and cocktail scene, Casey is a frequent TV and radio guest and speaker on trends.
As owner of Kathy Casey Food Studios and Liquid Kitchen, an international agency specializing in delicious creativity, she specializes in food, beverage and restaurant/hospitality concept consulting, product development as well as social media food and beverage promotions. Clients such as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Hotels, Sunset Produce, Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, Costco, Wild Hibiscus, Holland America Line, Restaurants Unlimited, Inc., Unilever, Monterey Gourmet Foods, Monin, Beam Global Spirits & Wine, Crown Imports, SKYY Spirits, Ketel One, Diageo, Bacardi, Moët Hennessy, Remy Cointreau and Proximo Spirits have sought her development skills, advice and expertise.
Casey also owns Dish D’Lish “Food to Go-Go” cafes - as well as Dish D’Lish branded retail and foodservice specialty food products and cocktail mixers.
An accomplished writer, she is the author of nine cookbooks, including the James Beard Award-nominated Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table. Her newest book is Sips & Apps.
Style & Substance: Bradley Dawson
Sr. Creative Associate, Liquid Relations by Ryan Magarian
Known for his “extreme” sense of hospitality in tandem with a much lauded ability to evolve classic cocktails into modern culinary originals, Bradley Dawson is recognized as one of the Pacific Northwest’s top liquid talents.
Dawson’s industry adventures began, not unlike so many of London’s top barmen, behind the bar at T.G.I Friday's in 1997, where he was immersed in one the industry’s most thorough and regimented beverage training programs. Looking to round out his industry experience, Dawson spent the early part of the 21st century in a wide variety of positions in restaurant and nightclub concepts around the country. In 2007, Dawson’s game jumped several levels, when he accepted a position as bar manager at Belly Timber, one of Portland’s most dynamic and fast-paced new upscale supper clubs. There, he galvanized his ability to manage numbers, co-workers and guest experience, while gaining recognition in both Imbibe Magazine and Wine Enthusiast for his unique and truly delicious cuisine appropriate cocktails, such as his well covered Blood Orange Collins, a drink so fresh and well balanced that it caught the attention of international cocktail and spirits service consultant Ryan Magarian
Today, Dawson works as a Senior Creative Associate for Liquid Relations, a platform that requires constant recipe development for luxury concepts and brands around the world. In addition, Dawson continues his work behind the stick in Portland's at Bruce Carey’s Bluehour, the city’s social center point and Northwest temple of haute cuisine. Finally, he recently completed his BARSmarts certification under such industry icons as Dale DeGroff, Steve Olson and Dave Wondrich, greatly expanding his knowledge of cocktail and spirit service.
Fresh Focused: Kim Haasarud
Founder, Liquid Architecture
Kim Haasarud is a James Beard-honored mixologist, author and beverage consultant. She conceives her signature cocktails much as Alice Waters would create a specialty dish, taking inspiration from market-fresh, high quality ingredients. “Cocktails, like food, should be culinary experiences,” says Haasarud. “It is about combining ingredients to create a sensation on the palate and entice all the senses with a combination of flavors, textures, aromas, and garnishes.”
Priding herself on creating innovative cocktail programs that demand execution on a large-scale, are informed by current and upcoming trends, and are inspired by a “fresh forward and premium spirits” philosophy. Her recent projects for Moët Hennessy, Beam Global, SKYY Spirits, P.F. Chang’s, Wyndham Worldwide Hotels & Resorts and Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea are just a few examples of programs that incorporate fresh ingredients, a focus on technique and execution, bar and mis-en-place set-up, cost control and a sensitivity towards SKUs to create profitable, top-of-class programs.
Haasarud has been a judge on “Iron Chef America,” and has made guest appearances on the “The Today Show,” CBS’ “Early Morning Show,” “Fox & Friends Live,” “Montel Williams Show” and Plum TV. She has been featured on various radio programs and her cocktails have been seen in hundreds of magazines and newspapers. In addition, she also created the official cocktail for the 2010 Academy Awards served at the Governor’s Ball – the “Golden Glamour.” She has also been featured each year since 2006 at the Aspen Food & Wine festival.
The author of the best-selling “101... “ cocktail series with Wiley & Sons (101 Margaritas , 101 Martinis , 101 Sangrias & Pitcher Drinks, 101 Champagne Cocktails, 101 Blended Drinks and, to be released in 2011, 101 Mojitos and other Muddled Drinks), and developed the “Holiday Cocktail Bar” App for iPhone and iPad.
Contemporary Classics: Tony Abou-Ganim
The Modern Mixologist
Tony Abou-Ganim is the author of The Modern Mixologist, Contemporary Classic Cocktails, an in-depth look into his take on modern-day cocktails, featuring spirits and ingredients available to today’s mixologist.
Abou-Ganim won the 2007 Iron Chef America competition with Mario Batali, “Battle Mango” and released his first DVD “Modern Mixology: Making Great Cocktails at Home” (February 2007). Most notably, he was featured demonstrating the art of cocktail preparation on the Fine Living Network program “Raising the Bar: America’s Best Bar Chefs.” Abou-Ganim grew up in the bar business, learning the craft from his cousin Helen David at the Brass Rail Bar in Port Huron, Mich. His initial introduction to the business was steeped in the tradition of classic cocktails and professional barmanship, grooming him to become a leader in the beverage industry.
After graduating from college, Abou-Ganim learned an appreciation for a well-made cocktail using only the freshest ingredients at Jack Slick's Balboa Café and at the opening of Harry Denton, a legendary hangout in Fog City. In 1993, he moved to New York City to work with Mario Batali at Po, then returned to San Francisco to open Harry Denton's Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. It was here that he created his first Specialty Drink Menu featuring several of his original cocktail recipes including the Cable Car, Sunsplash and Starlight.
In 1998, Abou-Ganim was hand-picked by Steve Wynn to create the cocktail program at the Bellagio Resort and immediately implemented his philosophy of bartending and drink preparation: quality ingredients and proper technique create great drinks. He spearheaded development of the hundreds of original cocktails served at the resort’s 22 bars. Currently, he operates his own beverage consulting firm specializing in bar staff training, product education and cocktail development.
As the National Ambassador of the US Bartenders Guild, www.usbg.org, and Associate Member of the Museum of the American Cocktail, www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org, he continues to educate about the history and lore of cocktails.
Meet & greet these trend-setters at the VIBE Conference. Click here to register!