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“Under My Host” Interviews David Yarrington for Drink Careers 101


We’ve become big fans of “Under My Host” since being introduced to it a couple months back. Host Cori Paige and her trusty Producer Matt Williamson do a great job curating conversations with some very cool, small production wine, beer and spirits makers.

Cori also holds the distinction of serving on the Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board, and as such she has brilliantly started putting together a series of short conversations with her guests about their journey and experiences working in the beverage industry.

In this clip, Cori interviews David Yarrington of Smuttynose Brewing in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Listen to David’s story about how a college chemistry professor got him started down the path to home brewing and ultimately a career working in craft brewing, and what excites him on a day to day basis.


Comments Off on “Under My Host” Interviews David Yarrington for Drink Careers 101 03.22.2013 |

Sean Z. Paxton The Home Brew Chef – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Sean Z. Paxton The Home Brew Chef

Sean Z. Paxton “The Home Brew Chef” is a larger than life chef, craft beer personality, and is one of those rare people that attracts a crowd when he so much as looks at a brewery. He believes in giving back to the industry that has given him so much and takes the time to connect with his audience, mentoring chefs and home brewers alike.

I saw him in action for the first time at the New Albion release party in January; it was very inspiring to see that he is as devoted to his fans as they are to him. When I first met Sean in a class at the Fatted Calf Charcuterie in Napa three years ago I had no clue that I was in the presence of celebrity. He has been a friend and mentor ever since. His ideas on flavor and deconstructing beverage to get an amazing dish have influenced the way I view beer and food. He is a herald of the craft beer industry and we are pleased to have him onboard as an Advisory Board member for Drink Careers 101.

Where did you learn the skills that allowed you to become the Home Brew Chef?

First I learned to cook, next to brew, then to cook with the beer I brewed and finally to write about it, for recipes, articles, website, etc.. Then from there, I had to learn how to talk about it to be able to do my podcasts.

I am self-taught. I learned what I did through obsessive study whether it was studying a new beer style, a cooking/brewing technique or a category of cuisine like vegetarian or vegan. You have to immerse yourself, research flavor profiles, organize them in your head (how are they different, what does this do, what that doesn’t do) and ultimately riff off of them. Just looking at the constructs of an idea and then reverse engineering it to find what you are looking for. These are the things that keep me up late at night.

At what point in your career did you discover your passion for cooking with beer?

I discovered my passion for cooking with beer pretty early. I was about 21, brewing beer and had a lot of excess beer from brewing 5 gallons at a time. I thought why use wine when I can use beer instead? In learning about each beer style, I learned what elements make up that flavor and how to make those flavors and manipulate those ingredients to make different flavors. I had an excess of a homebrewed German dopplebock, and started using it in my cooking. What that malty lager did in combination with morel mushrooms to make a sauce to go over grilled milk fed veal chops was insane. This showed me to look at beer as an ingredient. Through progression of trying tons of new things (Malts, hops, yeasts, water profiles to all the culinary ingredients) and discovering different flavor profiles, it was sort of crazy. Blend the brewing with the cooking and add a side of science and a dash of creativity, it all fell into place!

What is the best part about your career?

I have to choose?

Probably first, meeting all the wonderful people in our community. To me this is about creating memories, creating things with a unique beer style and finding the possibilities to express an idea through food with different cuisines. I love seeing what people take away from every dinner, every time each time I finish an event. All the work that goes into each event/article/recipe (beer and food) takes a ton of R&D and time. I try to create the ultimate menu, which I don’t get to sit down and enjoy, for all my guests. It is very self-less, a giving experience and I like being able to do that for them. I like coming up with that dish or that concept that gives them that great experience, whatever that maybe. Second, to work with so many creative people, both in the breweries, in the field selling beers to behind the scenes in the restaurants/hotels I get to work in across the country.

What collaborations have you done that you are particularly proud of?

All of them!

When I did Saucerfull of Secrets with Firestone Walker Brewing Co; it was the first Belgian beer they had ever brewed and we were able to create this wild homebrewed beer into a 50-barrel brew that was able to be shared with lots of drinkers. Next, I would say brewing with Tonya Cornet from Bend Brewing (now 10 Barrel Brewing) in Bend, Or. We’ve done 3 beers together and they’ve all been amazing (Desert Rose, Sexi Mexi, TBD Beer of Fall 2013).

I’ve had the opportunity and pleasure to collaborate with Allagash and De Struise Brouwers, brewing a Belgian-style blonde called Fedeltá. I collaborated a lot with Peter Hoey at Sacramento Brewing (since passed), and we did several really fun beers. One great one was Old Pappy, a wheat wine aged in 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle wheat bourbon barrels and a really cool sour project. Then there was Monk’s Blood with 21st Amendment. I’m actually brewing in Santiago, Chile with Matt Brynildson (Firestone Walker), Fal Allen (Anderson Valley Brewing Co.) and Pete Slosberg (Pete’s Wicked Ale) on my trip to South America in May with Kross Brewery.

If you could offer one piece of advice to student thinking of a career in the beer industry, what would it be?

Follow your dream, even if you don’t know what it is yet. What I mean by that is, everyone has their own unique taste and experiences that make them who they are. To follow what drives us, no matter what, being passionate about our hobbies and what and how that can lead us to what our next chapter in life could be. You never know what might happen with all you learn and are able to share with everyone, in a glass, on a plate or typed in words.

Courage, dedication, and my love of the craft are the reasons why I have gotten where I am today.

Learn from your mistakes, because you will make them. And remember, there is no perfect. We are our worst critics.

Follow Sean in Twitter and Facebook.

Comments Off on Sean Z. Paxton The Home Brew Chef – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.22.2013 |

Ian White of Butter Communications – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Ian White

Ian has become Mr. Napa Valley with his many projects and platforms shining a spotlight on the region. He is the Wine Country Director of 7×7 Magazine , California Home+Design Magazine, and the Creative Director and Editor of Napa Valley Life’s “INK” section. If there’s a happening event in Napa, you can count on him being there with enthusiasm.

What was your path into the wine media?

I fell in love with a girl from Napa and chased her up to St. Helena. I knew that I simply had to find a job in the wine industry, it was too much fun not too. Luckily my days of writing for Lonely Planet, the connections and network I built at that time paid off. After that, I just did right by the people in the wine community and they have done right by me.

What were the steps you took to prepare yourself for a career the wine industry?

I visited a ton of wineries, asked a million questions, and then started developing ideas, programs and content that fit the needs of the community.

How do you juggle all the awesome projects that you have in the world of beverage?

One sip at a time, and with the knowledge that if I do right by the wine community, it will do right by me. Also, always be sure you’re owed more favors than you owe.

What does being the “InsiderNapa” individual mean to you?

I chose that title because I’m in a position that provides me a very unique and inside perspective on the wine industry. I have direct access to the industry, and information about the industry at every level from CEO to farmer. I also work in every aspect of the industry, from media to winemaking, to events, sponsorships, sales and marketing; and travel to wine regions and wine events all over the world. It definitely helps that my wife’s family has over 30 years of history in Napa Valley and is extremely well respected in the community. It’s also worth noting that I’ve been accused of having one of the strongest networks in Napa Valley and Sonoma.

Do you have a favorite moment or experience in Napa?

Watching Grace Potter and the Nocturnals play a Live in the Vineyard show in the Peju Gardens on a perfectly beautiful spring day. Or seeing the Barr Brothers play Live in the Vineyard in the Peju Kitchens. Or maybe the NVL INK Black Valentine Ball, so many great times!

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Having a million different projects going on at once and never knowing which one I should focus on. It’s tons of fun and allows for extreme creativity and you never get bored. It’s worth every anxious moment!

What is your favorite aspect of what you do?

Supporting the community I live in, and being a conduit to the city I grew up in (SF) for the community I now live in (wine industry).

What advice would you give college students considering a career in wine media?

Find your voice (write a lot), be honest in your writing, spend a ton of time learning about wine and experiencing every aspect of wine, and the wine industry. Think a lot about what the next big thing will be, what the needs are, and future are for the wine industry and be sure to examine all of this from the most micro to the most macro levels. Find a voice and be the best at what you do! Never pretend to be something you’re not or write about things you don’t really know about, and read these blog posts!

How to Get a Job in the Wine Industry, Part 1
How to Get a Job in the Wine Industry, Part 2
How to Get a Job in the Wine Industry, Part 3

Comments Off on Ian White of Butter Communications – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.21.2013 |

Russell Davis – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Russell Davis

Russell Davis is a people’s champion of bartending, a master craftsmen of cocktails that hurls bottles in the air and breathes fire across the bar to the delight of San Francisco women on a nightly basis, as the men watch in awe and wonder what evolutionary leap produced such a spectacle of a person.

Imported to San Francisco directly from the mean streets of Texas, Russell Davis is a spectacular example of the career you can create for yourself if you get started young and dedicate yourself as a professional, as he did beginning his bartending career prior to turning 21. Since then, he’s been recognized as Nightclub and Bar’s 2012 Bartender of the Year, and has become a well-known bartender personality throughout the cocktail culture and industry.

We are so pumped to have Russell on the Project Advisory Board for Drink Careers 101, and excited to share a bit more about this journey with you in this interview.

What was your path into the beverage industry?

I moved to Austin from my family farm in East Texas when I was 18 years old to go to college at the University of Texas, where I studied theatre and dance. I had waited tables in high school and immediately took a job in a restaurant as a waiter to make some cash. I had already developed this fascination for bartending because of the movie “Cocktail” (which in all honestly inspired me more than anything, I would not be a bartender if it wasn’t for that movie). I would constantly ask the bartender at the restaurant questions and talk to him about his job, as he was a seasoned veteran. All the while, I was going home to my dorm room and receiving complaints from my neighbors below me because of all the bottles I was dropping from my nightly home “bar practice”, which involved teaching myself every trick from the movie. Shortly after I started practicing, the restaurant shut down and I moved into my fraternity’s house, which had a bar right across the street. I applied for a job as a bartender, and having just turned 19 (you can legally bartend in Texas while under 21) and absolutely no actual bar experience, I was intimidated as hell. I was hired as a door guy/security, and from there I just worked my way up, always asking questions to learn more, not complaining, and busting my ass (and breaking up more than a few fights along the way). I moved up to become barback, and I would sneak into the cooler on my breaks to read “Nightclub & Bar Magazine” or study shot/drink recipes from the cookie cutter bartender’s guidebooks that were everywhere back then. I continued to climb up the company ladder, and by the time I was 20, I was bartending and managing that same bar, even though I couldn’t legally drink yet.

Some people write bartending off as not being a true profession. As one of the best, what are your thoughts on bartending as a profession?

People will always drink, and even more so in tough economic times. I think that the inherent problem has been that in the recent past, even bartenders haven’t looked at what they were doing as a true profession. For most of my career, it was always looked at as that thing to do between “real jobs” or if you didn’t know what you wanted to do with your life. But lately, individual bartenders/mixologists and the industry as a whole have elevated this profession. There are people out there that have turned this into a truly respectable profession that can help you to lead a very successful and lucrative lifestyle. I am amazed by the places I’ve been to, the people I’ve met, the things I’ve been able to do and see, all because of being a bartender/mixologist in this day and age. That’s why I support the Mutineers and Drink Careers 101 so much. They are looking to the future and elevating the industry even further. No longer when I tell people that I’m a bartender, do I want to hear the follow up question, “Well, what else do you do?”

Can you talk about integrating a performance element into your bartending?

Showmanship is part of hospitality. Now, I don’t believe that other fundamentals should be sacrificed at the hands of showmanship, but it is one of the best ways to grab an audiences attention not only to spotlight what you are doing as the bartender/mixologist, but also to help you control the energy of the bar room, which is essential. Throughout my career, I was always given a hard time by some bartenders I worked with who couldn’t do what I could do with my bartending as a showman. When I would first step behind a new (to me) bar, I would throw a bottle or flip a tin, and like clockwork, someone on the bar staff (usually the trainer) would get intimidated and say something like, “we are way too busy of a bar to do that.” And then, on a busy night, when I would pull out my tricks, control the crowd, and out ring them on their register, they always shut their mouths. Showmanship behind the bar is a dying art and has been frowned upon by people that couldn’t do it for many years, but now it’s coming back. If you can craft a proper cocktail with speed, control, knowledge, efficiency, and showmanship, then no one can touch you. Also, in all honesty, when the bar is packed, the drinks are pumping out, and the music is right, I just can’t help myself. The energy controls me just as much as I control it.

What has been your proudest achievement as a bartender?

For me, hands down, it was winning the Nightclub & Bar’s 2012 Bartender of the Year and accepting the award in Las Vegas. I had wanted that award for years and never shifted my eyes from the prize. Not only is it one of biggest and oldest bar industry award shows/conventions in the world, but it is also the one that I feel like bridges the gap between the Nightclub and Mixology industries. I was a finalist for the same award for two years in a row (and lost to two different people) before finally being named Bartender of the Year, so, as you can imagine, I really wanted it. I had been dreaming of the cover of that magazine for years, which the bartender of the year always graces on the month of the awards. The irony? When I finally did receive the honor, it happened to be the same month as they decided to quit printing the magazine and go all digital online, the first time for this to happen in the decades long existence of the publication. I still laugh about that, I always seem to have awful timing, but I can’t complain, the headline of the article they published on me read “From Southern Gentleman to San Francisco Businessman, Russell Davis is the ‘Aristocrat of the Working Class”, and that was probably the coolest thing 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.

Also, I can’t help to mention how proud I am of the Ice Cream Bar and Soda Fountain in San Francisco, which I set up the beverage program for, all originally “non-alcoholic.” It taught me that if I put my mind to it, I can successfully execute my ideas, no matter how crazy they are.

How has your experience as a professional bartender changed in San Francisco compared to when you were based in Austin?

Austin and San Francisco have two very different styles of bartending, so I feel like I gained more experience having been lucky enough to be part of the industry in both cities. As far as mixology goes, Texas was very much on its own and had to kind of “fend for itself” when it came to learning the techniques of the fresh, hand-crafted revolution. We had no mentors besides books and each other, and I personally took the techniques I had from my years of nightclub/rowdy bar experience, and applied it to the techniques I was learning from those books/videos and the big city brand ambassadors who might just so happen to be passing through town and wanted to host a seminar for a very fledgling USBG (United States Bartenders’ Guild) Chapter. It was tough, but cool, and Texas has its own style because of it. When I moved to San Francisco and started diving into the “mixology” scene, my knowledge and techniques increased exponentially, and fast. It’s a large community of very experienced bartenders, who have been taught the “proper” techniques from the beginning of their careers by proper mentors. The free flow of knowledge within this family is amazing; you can’t help but learn something. One thing that San Francisco does lack, and only in proportion to Texas, is that there is a smaller number of bartenders/mixologists who have had previous experience at bar scenes such as nightclubs or dives (or something rowdy like that) and know what it’s like to have to walk out from behind the bar to kick someone out or to have comp tabs to get girls on top of the bar.

How has professional bartending changed and evolved in recent years? How do you predict it will change in coming years?

The public now cares about what they put into their bodies, and they want, for the most part, fresh and handcrafted ingredients. It’s happening everywhere. The best bartenders now are the ones who have taken this into account, and whether or not they use them everyday, have learned the proper techniques to execute their profession no matter the style or where they work. I think in the coming years, you will see more high volume, multi-million dollar nightclubs, major restaurant chains, and neighborhood bars adopt fresh, handcrafted bar programs which will require bartenders with proper knowledge of “mixology” techniques to execute them. It is time for the “everyday bartender”, you know, the one with years of experience who has not been properly trained in these techniques, to learn them, and it is our job, those of us, who have mastered them, to inspire.

What advice would you give college students considering a career as a bartender?

Get out now… just joking, I love what I do. Be prepared to work hard and always remember to have fun and take things seriously, but not too seriously. This industry will chew you up and spit you out if you do not find the proper balance. Have a life outside the bar and don’t compromise yourself. Once it quits being fun, it’s time for a change.

“The bartender is the aristocrat of the working class, he can make all sorts of moves if he is smart.” — Douglas Coughlan

3 comments 03.19.2013 |

Joanna Glass of Kobrand Corporation – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Joanna Glass of Kobrand Corporation

Joanna Glass is lucky. She is a Brand Manager for Kobrand Corporation in charge of Tia Maria and several other brands, which is a pretty cool gig. But, as a fairly recent graduate, she also has first hand experience with the difficulties facing her generation and beat the odds. She knew that she wanted to be a part of the beverage industry, and took it upon herself to research careers, piecing together information scattered all over the place. It is because of this experience that Joanna was drawn to Drink Careers 101.

Joanna has been a vocal champion of Drink Careers 101 and we are proud to have her on board the Drink Careers 101 Advisory Board.

How did you get started in the beverage industry?

My father’s answer to this question would be “well 4 years of college studying economics and Italian, and the last semester she took a wine appreciation course, and fell in love.” After graduating in the spring of 2009, no one was hiring. I applied to every crush job and spirit company I could come across, not knowing where to start, but I figured every winery needed someone to pick grapes, but it is not as simple as it seems. Luckily, all at once I had a few local offers, and I chose to start with a wine and spirits importer and distribution company, and that’s where my story begins.

What obstacles did you encounter when trying to find information on beverage industry careers?

Through research I came across one beverage industry job site, and for the first year, that was the only one I used. In general, there was hardly any information at all, and if there was, it was extremely vague. I became frustrated with the beverage industry company’s generic listings “luxury spirits company” and “craft beer company” etc. that offered no actual insight into what separated them from the rest. The database was practically nonexistent.

What do you do at Kobrand Corporation?

I am an Associate Brand Manager; I manage 7 small niche brands across the country. My day to day includes, setting up national bar and on premise programs, incentives for distributors, control state presentations, supplier relations, creating POS, and supporting our sales staff so they can do their jobs efficiently and showcase the brand to the quality it deserves.

What are some challenges you are faced with in your career?

My challenges are mostly related to the smaller nature of my brands. With smaller brands, they tend to be ignored at certain levels, and unappreciated unless they are really hand sold. My biggest challenge is making the consumer and distributors keep my brands on their mind, and selling the brand with a good story and impressive quality.

What was your best moment working at Kobrand Corporation?

Seeing one of my brand’s first St. Patrick’s Day program come to a successful fruition!

If you had one piece of advice for a student considering a career in the beverage industry, what would it be?

Read everything, ask questions, and research what is being poured into your glass. Do you like Aperol? Turn the bottle around and see who makes it. Enjoy drinking rum? Go to a liquor store, and educate yourself for free, by reading labels, researching what an importer is, who the owner is, and the distributor names you come across. Find a good riesling you like? There is a huge database of companies out there in plain sight, at every liquor store and grocery store, no purchase necessary!

Follow Joanna on Twitter!

Back our Drink Careers 101 project here!

Comments Off on Joanna Glass of Kobrand Corporation – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.18.2013 |

Tiffany Adamowski of 99 Bottles – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Tiffany Adamowski

The Mutineer Team has known the husband and wife duo behind Washington State’s 99 Bottles since we first wrote about them when they opened their specialty beer store in 2007. Several years later, they are one of Washington’s most prominent beer stores and one of Mutineer’s favorites. Here is our interview with Tiffany Adamowski, co-owner of 99 Bottles.

How did you get your start in the beverage industry?

My husband, Craig, had been working for a beer and wine beverage wholesaler for five years. As a delivery driver, he was in and out of mom-n-pop owned wine stores and got to know a lot of the husband-wife owners. He knew I was interested in getting out of consulting-type of business and opening a retail shop. He thought, “There are a lot of beers out there. We both love the beverage. Why not open a beer store?” At that time we weren’t familiar with any beer stores in the region.

Craig ran his idea for a specialty beer store by several of the wine store owners, friends and family. Everyone thought it sounded like an interesting concept.

We came up with the name, 99 Bottles, which wasn’t yet in use for a bottle shop. In 2006, we started exploring our options, taking evening and weekend business courses, researched and authored a comprehensive business plan, sourced funding, found our ideal location, and started build-out.

We opened 99 Bottles specialty beer store on January 20, 2007.

What were you doing before you opened 99 Bottles?

Prior to 99 Bottles, I worked as lead writer on the Olympic Cool-Cap, a device that provides hypothermia treatment for newborns suffering hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, plus more than twenty additional medical product lines. I’ve also managed information architecture, writing and editing teams at an international marketing-Web design firm, managed multi-language translation projects, authored hundreds of technical manuals for everything from software to cockpit equipment to medical devices, created templates for software giants, and created brochure-ware websites for small companies. I guess you could call me a jack-of-all trades in the writing field, which has prepared me for the “jack-of-all trades” aspect of running a retail shop. I have owned and operated a freelance writing business, Styles & Scribbles, since 1993, and still maintain two clients for whom I do template creation and marketing.

I once believed that my background working with the FDA and FAA were well-suited to working with another regulated product: beer, which is controlled by the ATF and State Liquor Control Boards. One thing I’ve learned over the years is that laws and guidelines are much more “black and white” in the regulation of food and drugs and airplanes as opposed to the many “gray” areas of liquor. Liquor laws vary from state to state, and within your state there are “laws” and there are “recommendations to be treated as laws.” Sometimes this makes my head spin.
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Comments Off on Tiffany Adamowski of 99 Bottles – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.15.2013 |

Whitney Rigsbee of Nomacorc – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Whitney Rigsbee of Nomacorc

Today we are pleased to present Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member Whitney Rigsbee from Nomacorc.

Wine closures have become a hot topic in recent years. Natural corks have become polarizing due to the potential of creating flaws in the wine, screw caps and synthetic corks have become increasingly popular. Based in North Carolina, Nomacorc is a leading producer of synthetic corks, and has been extremely active educating wine consumers and industry professionals about the advances and benefits of synthetic cork, which include the ability to control the amount of oxygen reaching the wine during aging and eliminating the risk of TCA taint. I had the opportunity to connect with the Nomacorc team in Sacramento in January during the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium, including public relations specialist Whitney Rigsbee. Whitney has such a passion for work she does at Nomacorc, as well as her company’s mission to innovate wine closures and improve the wine drinking experience, and we’re thrilled to have her bringing her talents to our Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board.

What was your path into the beverage industry?

Prior to joining Nomacorc, I was working for an agency based in Raleigh, NC doing public relations for a global toilet paper and soap manufacturer. Outside of the office, I was volunteering for a non-profit called the Frankie Lemmon School and Developmental Center, a pre-school for children with special needs. Nomacorc is a big supporter of the Frankie Lemmon School and several of its employees volunteer for the school’s annual Triangle Wine Experience fundraiser. I ended up meeting two of my soon-to-be (amazing) colleagues working on the marketing committee together. After about nine months volunteering with them, I noticed a media relations job opening that one of my soon-to-be colleagues posted on LinkedIn, and sent him a note asking about the position. I had really enjoyed volunteering and working together so I thought the transition over Nomacorc would be a good fit. A couple of e-mail exchanges, a phone interview, and two in-person meetings later they offered me the position at Nomacorc. I like to joke around with my coworkers that I went from toilet paper to terroir in a matter of two weeks! I’ve loved it ever since.

Can you explain your current role at Nomacorc?

What’s so great about the marketing department at Nomacorc is that you are exposed to many responsibilities and areas of work. My main focus is public relations and social media for Nomacorc’s English-speaking territories including North America, Canada, UK, Australia and S. Africa. However, I also try to lend a hand anywhere else that is needed, including internal communications, events, editing, copywriting, etc.

It’s obvious that you and your colleagues at Nomacorc have a lot of passion for your work. Can you talk about this passion and what inspires you so much about working with bottle enclosures?

Nomacorc’s founding principle was based on providing a better wine closure solution for the wine industry, helping to deliver the best possible wine to consumers. Today, that same principle still applies and we truly consider ourselves as a partner to wineries across the world. This foundation can be felt across the company and the energy and passion is contagious. The technology, science and work that we are doing to help wineries make better wines is extremely rewarding and fun! I think what inspires me is that something so small as a closure can be so impactful to the taste and feel of a wine. We have so many people working here that are extremely talented and I just feel lucky to learn and grow from them.

What is your favorite aspect of your work?

The people! Not only do I love everyone that I work with at Nomacorc, but I also meet so many interesting and unique people from around the world. Most of the people who work in the wine industry have such a passion for what they do and are willing to share it with others. Being more of a “newbie” to the industry I have learned so much from journalists, colleagues, and our customers through casual conversations, meetings or even over a bottle of wine at dinner. It’s great to make so many connections and then see updates on social media about how their life is going or a new bottle they are trying or vineyard they are visiting. The people are what truly make the beverage industry so great. Plus, the wine drinking part isn’t so bad either!

What advice would you give college students considering a career working with enclosures/packaging in the beverage industry?

Embrace the unfamiliar. For those that aren’t exposed to the enclosures/packaging areas in the beverage industry (which most college students probably aren’t) this career path might seem intimidating or obscure. Don’t judge a book its cover. Within the packaging industry there are so many different areas of work including engineering, finance, sales, research and marketing. Connect with people that currently work in the industry and see if you can shadow with them for a day or intern for them for a semester. The best way to learn is to actually work. I think a lot college students have this stereotype that the only job in the beverage industry is working at a winery or being a salesperson. There’s a huge window of opportunity within the beverage industry with an array of different jobs that are all unique and great! All you need to do is connect with people, expose yourself to different areas and situations, and figure out which path you are willing to work towards and create for yourself.

Follow Nomacorc here on Twitter and Facebook.

Click here to back our Kickstarter project!

Comments Off on Whitney Rigsbee of Nomacorc – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member 03.12.2013 |

Ted Kilgore of The Last Word & Niche Taste Bar – Spotlight on a Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member


Ted Kilgore of Niche Taste Bar & The Last Word

Today we are pleased to present Drink Careers 101 Project Advisory Board Member Ted Kilgore of The Last Word.

I was first alerted to what bartender Ted Kilgore was doing out in St. Louis last year while researching bars for the Top Ten list in Mutineer Magazine. His cocktails were so interesting, that it didn’t surprise me to learn that he is a leader in the cocktail industry. Ted has appeared in magazines from Food & Wine to The Wall Street Journal. He has also served as an advocate for the industry, and education, and has called attention to the vibrant cocktail scene in the Midwest.

We are glad to have Ted and his experience as a part of our Drink Careers 101 Advisory Board.

What first interested you about the cocktail world?
In my twenties I was in a different career, and was a cocktail enthusiast mixing things at home and learning what I could about the craft of bartending. The job I was in had come to an end; so when I was 31, I decided to make my bartending “hobby” my career. After much obsession, passion, and evolution here I am.

Where did you get your start?
Springfield, Missouri. I got a big break at the Holiday Inn Express. I worked there for a year while trying to get a job at the best “Martini” bar and restaurant in Springfield, which eventually I did. Eight months after starting there, I was promoted to Bar Manager. I started getting into the craft movement, and then after a trip to New York in 2004, I was hooked.

I noticed that you were President of the USBG, what was that role like?
I was the founding President of the Saint Louis USBG, and it was a great 3 years. We have grown from just a group of 12 to over 60 members. I think the thing I am most pleased with is that last year when the new officers took over, the majority of the new officers were newer to the guild and so stoked to be a part of it. A big part of my job as president was getting bartenders to understand that we can stand together as professionals no matter what kind of bar you work at. My goal was always to make the city a better and tastier place to drink and to help out local charities and our community while doing so.

Where are you working now?
For the last 4 years, I have worked for the Niche Restaurant Group, mainly with their project Taste. It was the first craft cocktail bar in St. Louis and in 4 years it has become a city favorite for food and cocktails. I am currently working on my own project, which will open mid 2013 called Planter’s House. It will be a bar/restaurant focusing on the historical and present grandeur of Saint Louis.

What sort of special projects do you have on the horizon?
The Planter’s House is the big one, but along with opening we will be expanding some cocktail and spirits workshops that I have done the last 3 years. We will be utilizing one of our bars for ongoing spirits and cocktail classes. With the boom of cocktails and spirits, people are clamoring for knowledge. I also plan on offering culinary students discounts through their schools to help them understand where the trends are moving. I think it is still very hard for new food and beverage students to understand the opportunities and changes that are happening in our industry.

What advice do you have for students looking to get into the spirits industry?
Be as knowledgeable as you can. Get you BarSmart Wired certified. Get BarSmarts Advanced, and/or B.A.R. Ready Certified. Read everything that you can. Never stop learning. I took the B.A.R. 5 day in 2007, and even after passing B.A.R. Ready, it showed me how much more there is to learn. There are so many more resources out there today. Take advantage of them. Also, never forget we are in the hospitality industry, so treat everyone how you would like to be treated.

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