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July 2020

Anthony Lopez - Bar Consultant

Image by Karbannation

Local Bartender Anthony Lopez is no stranger to innovation, hard work or curiousity. These three characteristics are the pillars of his success in the service industry. After working unfulfilling jobs, Lopez decided to enter the world of food and beverage services. His first job was at The Raleigh Hotel in Miami Beach where he was noticed by Carlos Moreno Rossi. Rossi, who is currently an event Coordinator and Beverage Director at The Delano Hotel/SLS South Beach, approached Lopez because of his unparalleled work ethic. Rossi was so impressed with Lopez that he welcomed him as a part of his bartending team. Lopez began working with seasoned bartenders who trained him and got him interested in the craft. 

What do you enjoy about bartending?

Bartending is an ever evolving industry. I love seeing new takes on the craft. Some bartenders are doing the same thing that I’m doing but, in other parts of the world, they have access to different ingredients, different spices and different spirits and so there is always something new coming up. People are always coming out with new techniques and so you can never say that you know how to do everything. Bartending constantly challenges you so it is something that is always changing and I really like that. 

As a bartender, what have you learned from people in this industry?

In the industry, people can tell whether or not you’re motivated. People can tell whether or not you like what you’re doing or if you’re just doing it as a job. People noticed that I started paying attention to what they were doing. I would ask certain questions. I constantly tried to figure out more about my craft and I wanted to continue to expand my knowledge. Those around me saw my passion and realized, “This kid actually cares about what’s going on and we’re gonna show him everything.” The bar would close around three or four in the morning, but I would often stay after we closed to learn. Back when I worked at The Raleigh, I hung out with another bartender named Peter Bocskor who had been bartending for over 14 years. He took me under his wing and showed me how to make different drinks. He would show me how to make cocktails, like Manhattans Vieux Carre and Rob Roy’s. I told him that these are the best drinks and I asked why no one ever asks for them. He let me know that not a lot of people know of them. 

What are your favorite drinks?

I like Manhattan and Brooklyn cocktails. They’re both take on classics and they’re honestly some of my favorite drinks. The Brooklyn cocktail is not something everybody appreciates because it’s a little on the stronger side. It’s very spirit-forward and very straightforward.

Do you have any remarkable opportunities/ stories that have happened because of your job? If so, what are some of these experiences?

There are many stories that I take with me and that I’ll probably never forget. Some of my favorite events have been when I was bartending at The Raleigh. I’ve done a lot of events like food and wine festivals. I’ve met high-profile Michelin Star chefs and I’ve worked alongside the clientele that they’re catering to so I’ve met a lot of famous people. I’ve taken care of Tommy Hilfiger and Sam Nazarian (Creator of SBE and Owner of SLS Delano Hotels ) when they would hold meetings at The Raleigh. I met Snoop Dogg. I’ve worked a lot of concerts with DJs like Anjunabeats, Marshmallows and Thomas Gold. Those crowds were something! I am really happy that I got a chance to experience those events, especially with everything that’s going on now. 

What are your current projects?

I recently started a consulting gig with a good friend of mine named Rudy Abreu. Rudy and I are partners in our consulting agency. We are beverage consultants for bar programs and for at home bars. It’s a side gig to bring the bar to people. We bring the craft to their house instead of teaching people how to make a Long Island or a mojito, we make the fun stuff and teach people how to make craft cocktails at home. We make the experience approachable. I’m also heading the bar program at the Albion Hotel in Miami Beach. 

How has COVID-19 affected you personally and professionally?

We are all trying to survive in this market. We have all gone back to the drawing board. We cut costs down and worked to figure out how to change menus but also how to stay alive. We still need to keep people coming in the door, so that’s when we fall back on the classics. I obviously feel bad for everybody that’s having a hard time. It’s also been a  huge struggle because like there’s kind of this bias versus stand-alone bars and restaurants. Restaurants are okay but bars have been struggling to open. People don’t want to encourage gathering right now. Avoiding crowds has been the biggest challenge for me. All I know is how to fill up a room. I am trained to fill a room and I’ve perfected this craft to be able to get a lot of people to want to come in and enjoy it. But, you just have to take what you are given and roll with it. I don’t think that this pandemic will completely disrupt the cycle of the bar industry or stop it in its tracks. We got through prohibition. There are also families suffering and I wish people would be a little more safe. It’s important to take care of ourselves so we can get back to what we were doing and live a normal life.

Where can we see more of you? What’s your next move?

After working eight years in the hospitality industry, I’ve been inspired to create my own business. My business is called Cosa Nostra Cocktail Club. Cosa Nostra, or “Our Thing,” will also be the name of my bar. Although it reminds some people of the mafia, I chose the name because I’m Cuban-Italian and I’m from New York City (which is considered a birthplace of true craft).  I’ve created this LLC with Rudy Abreu who also bartends at SLS. Cosa Nostra will be a cocktail club to set us apart from the dive bars and from the regular bars. Once you’re considered a cocktail club it’s because you offer a little more variety not just mainstream classics as far as the cocktail programs. We use our knowledge of pre and post prohibition styles of bartending to create this brand because we realized that we care more about the craft cocktail side of the industry. We keep up to date with all the spirits that are coming out and we notice how our guests really experience drinks. We are also happy to show them how these drinks became staples in the craft. “Our thing” goes to show that we’re going to be different from everybody else. Cosa Nostra will not be an experience you can get by going into any other bar

To contact Anthony or follow his journey:

Instagram: @tony_cosanostracc

Email: A042393@hotmail.com

Phone number: (786) 218- 6309

 

 

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Barbara Peña - Bartender @ The Local

Local Miami Bartender Barbara “Barby” Pena has been positively impacting and servicing patrons for over a decade. Before the 2019 Coronavirus Epidemic, you could have stepped into The Local Craft Food & Drink and Pena would have crafted you a drink that is individualized, creative and inspired. However, Pena, like others in the service industry, can now only hope that she will be able to continue fulfilling her passion for bartending. 

What inspired you to become a bartender?

A long time ago, there was a spot called Clandestino Pub on South Beach. Working at Clandestino was my main introduction to the craft cocktail world and ever since then I have fallen in love. Bartending is like cooking but with liquor and I love to cook. 

What are your favorite aspects of the job?

From the type of people that you meet to the conversations that you have to the cocktails you make…Every day is a new adventure. There are so many different worlds that come with bartending. You can work in different atmospheres. You can work at a place where you have conversations and make bonds with people. Some of my regulars have become my friends. Some of them have gone to my kids’ baby showers. There’s something special about the industry that I work in. There’s something magical.

What have you learned about the people you serve? How has this knowledge influenced your craft?

 I learn something new every day. It truly is incredible to experience things through my guests and my regulars. Also, I make different types of cocktails for people and decipher what kind of drink they would like. You can walk up to me and I will make you something that you like. I have played that game with a lot of people who never had a real cocktail and are intimidated about ordering a drink. One time I had someone tell me that they want something “witchy and romantic.” I made her a smokey drink that had a flower tea that changed color once you added lemon to it. She was blown away. It is crazy how you can change someone’s day so easily, someone who could be going through a lot. I’ve talked people out of doing dumb things and I have heard people out. Sometimes I feel like a psychiatrist but my prescriptions are drinks. 

What are your favorite drinks?

My favorite drink is a New York Sour. They are delicious. It’s both boozy and refreshing. It’s a funky cocktail and it’s very pretty too. It has egg whites in it and it has a very beautiful process. I really enjoy making it for people who never had it. Every time they say, “Oh my God! It’s amazing!” 

The Local Barbie 44 1 scaled
Images by Blazin Visualz

Do you have any remarkable opportunities/ stories that have happened because of your job? If so, what are some of these experiences?

I met the love of my life through working in this industry. You never know what the future holds and it was very sweet how I met him. He walked into The Local and was like, “ You are the bartender that used to work at Roll Call a long time ago!” Roll Call was a 24 hour bar that was open in Miami. It was wild. As a bartender, I have had very beautiful and touching encounters, very emotional moments. This industry has taught me how we are all so different but it is beautiful to be able to have a moment with all these different humans. 

How has COVID-19 affected you personally and professionally?

I have always had two jobs. I work at The Local and the crew is like a family. Everyone has been there for five or six years. We all have seen a lot of each other but this has changed since the pandemic. My second job was at 1-800 Lucky and they are running a tight, skeleton crew there. I haven’t gone back to work. The pandemic has definitely brought a lot of questions: How permanent is this? Is this going to affect the service industry unlike jobs where you can work from home?

What, if anything, do you hope a Post COVID-19 Word resembles for you as a person and as a member of the hospitality industry?

In a post-COVID-19 world, we are going to be more aware of washing our hands and personal space. I honestly don’t know what to expect. I just hope all of us as humans try to become better humans. I think this whole experience is very awakening. I hope we can take all the positives and create a better, healthier world. The uncertainty of the service industry is scary for all of us bartenders. I don’t know if things will go back to normal and whether we can rely on the industry as the main source of income as we have done for years. I do have a fall back plan of going back to school if all else fails. I was thinking about becoming a dental hygienist. I know it is so different but I would be going for job security. Let’s hope that things take a turn for the best and that our industry survives. 

If you had your own drink, bar or business, what would it be like and why?

I would have a little coffee shop. Maybe I would make it a speakeasy during the night with wine and poetry. I would want a Mom and Pop shop that my family could visit. 

To contact Barby or follow her journey:

Instagram: @lepetitdinosaur

Email: barbarapenam@gmail.com

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Ashly Levi - Miss Agave

Image credit: Blazin Visualz

Ironically, Bartender and Agave Enthusiast, Ashly Levi, was not always Team Tequila. In fact, she hated it, but she currently lives with a determination to change the minds of those who disdain the Mexican liquor. Now, Levi, who goes by “Miss Agave” because of her passion for agave spirits, has a blog that positively shifts the narrative about Tequila. With her blog Miss Agave, Ashly created a platform where she shares her knowledge and craft with others. She aims to break the negative stereotypes and reputation that is commonly associated with Tequila by eliminating the misinformation about the Mexican liquor.  

In 2015, Ashly moved to Melbourne, Australia, and got a job at a Mexican Restaurant with a stunning back bar that only featured bottles of Tequila. The entire selection was printed and stuck to the back of American License Plates, catching the eye and inspiring curiosity. Working at the Mexican restaurant was her first time working in the hospitality industry. Miss Agave was grateful that she was hired in an industry that celebrated community as well as making meaningful connections. She believed that working at a restaurant in the heart of the city would be the best place to meet people and she was right. Her bosses made a valiant effort to train their staff to work hard and learn fast. Initially, Miss Agave was intimidated by the new and fast-moving environment but she found safety in the lessons she learned while on the job, and along with her co-workers, was given a red binder with information about Tequila. Suddenly, she was thrust into this new world, learning the different regions where it could be found, the various categories of the spirit, and the laws that were attached to it. 

These informational packets were useful, but it was the training that changed Miss Agave’s relationship with, and understanding of, Tequila. Brand Ambassadors and owners of Tequila and Mezcal brands from Mexico would travel all the way to her restaurant in Melbourne. They brought their spirits and taught each bartender about them. They would show the bartenders slideshows and photos of the jimadores harvesting the agave in the fields to the beautiful land that is Jalisco, Mexico. Because she was born in Mexico, these training sessions and conversations gave Miss Agave a sense of pride for her homeland and a new appreciation of the liquor that originated there. Through these training sessions, she learned how to sip Tequila and what flavors to savor when drinking. She slowly developed a taste for it and it ultimately became her drink of choice. Because of this experience, Miss Agave believes that by learning more about agave-based spirits, their histories, their origin stories, and cultural impact, make them worth their respect. 

Thus, she created a blog that inspires others to give Tequila another shot.

What is the Miss Agave blog About?

My blog focuses on highlighting agave and Mexican spirits: Tequila, Mezcal, Raicilla, Bacanora, and even Sotol. Whether I am creating a cocktail or talking about a certain brand, my overall goal is to celebrate and bring attention to these spirits and educate others who may not be familiar with them. 

What do you enjoy the most as an Agave Educator?

Before I launched my blog, I noticed that almost every conversation I would have led to Tequila. Having this platform where I can reach so many people encourages me to learn more myself while I also promote the uniqueness and beauty Agave spirits have to offer. I know that I may not be able to change everyone’s mind or tastes, but I am happy as long as I am helping tell the right story and giving Tequila the credit it deserves.

Currently, you are a bartender. What do you enjoy the most working behind the bar?

 It really is an experience, and can be a rewarding one. You never know who is going to walk through that door and sit in front of you. I love the conversations and I love sharing my passion with anyone who is willing to listen. When someone sits at your bar, you are like an artist, or performer in a way while working your craft. Also, there’s always room for growth and learning.

Today we celebrate #NationalTequiladay, what are your thoughts about Tequila education in the US?

Yay, Happy National Tequila Day! 

I believe Tequila education is moving in the right direction. Working behind the bar, and even as a patron myself, I’ve noticed a wider variety of quality Tequila available. I think the combination of  Mexican inspired bars and restaurants opening up, like the “Taco Tuesday” trend, along with the numerous brands that have emerged in the last 5 years, have created more interest and inclusion for the spirit of Tequila. I do believe education is the best approach to help remove any negativity or misinformation behind the spirit. I know I am 100% biased but anytime someone tells me they don’t like Tequila, it is my mission to change their mind. I’d like to say I have a good track record ;).

What Cocktail will you be drinking today to celebrate National Tequila Day?

One of my favorite cocktails of all time is an Espresso Martini so my cocktail will be inspired by that except this cocktail will have Chai Tea instead of Espresso. This cocktail is made up of: Coconut oil washed Blanco Tequila, coconut milk, unsweetened Chai tea, Creme de Cacao, and cinnamon-infused Aquafaba. I’ve been working on Agave cocktails from home with ingredients that I have on hand! My home bar is not big enough!

What bottle of liquor do you have at home that is reserved for special occasions?

I have a bottle of Fortaleza Still Strength that I have yet to take out of the box. I don’t know what special occasion I’m waiting for, and I should just drink it. I’ll open it eventually. If there was a bottle that I would love to have at my bar that I would save for special occasions, it would be Fuenteseca 18th year.

What do you like to do for leisure? Tell us about your hobbies.

 I like to keep myself busy with work. I’m the first one to pick up or cover a shift. When I do find myself with free time I love to rollerblade, go to the beach but I’ll also just enjoy my down time during the day and then maybe visit my friends at their bars at night! Is traveling a hobby? Traveling is definitely my favorite thing to do. I pretty much always have a trip booked in my itinerary. Something I look forward to, work and save towards. Traveling is always so rewarding.

What’s next for you?

I want to get back behind the bar!  I love the rush of making drinks while chatting with guests and my coworkers. I would also love to work with more Tequila and Mezcal brands, even Raicilla and other Mexican spirits and focus on the education of these spirits with local bartenders but also with guests! From experience, it can be hard at times to give an interested customer a full Tequila lesson and tasting while working a busy bar. I have some ideas in mind to bring the educational experience to people outside of the industry as well! I also hope to make it back out to Mexico! Oaxaca is top on my list!

What’s the best way to follow your journey? Tell us how to contact you.

The best way to contact me is through my Instagram account @Missagave! Once I find a new bar to work at, definitely come visit me there. You can also contact me via email: info@missagave.me

Image credits: Blazin Visualz

RECREATE MISS AGAVE NATIONAL TEQUILA DAY COCKTAIL

Chai Tea-quila Martini

2 oz coconut oil washed Volcan Blanco

1 oz of unsweetened Chai Tea

0.5 oz Creme de cacao

0.5 oz unsweetened coconut milk

Cinnamon infused Aquafaba

Preparation

Pour all ingredients into your cocktail shaker and dry shake (no ice) for about 30-45 seconds. This will allow the Aquafaba to froth up. Add in some ice cubes and shake again for about 10-15 second. Double strain into a coupe glass!

Garnish with toasted coconut flakes

https://youtu.be/52j1Xj6fCqQ
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Best places to celebrate National Tequila Day!

El Tikiliero from Esotico Miami

When Life Gives You Lemons… Slice Them Up and Find Some Tequila 

– Our picks for Celebrating National Tequila Day in Miami

Despite the limitations associated with COVID-19’s social distancing rules, many restaurants and bars are providing novel solutions for Happy Hour. Miami’s reputation has been observed as an analogous melting pot; establishing a collective hunger for culture and tradition.

Tequila has been produced by the Aztecs in Mexico since the 1500s, and with 80 percent of Mexico’s tequila exported to the United States, we sure know how to celebrate! These are what bars and restaurants in Miami are serving up to enjoy National Tequila Day safely and deliciously.

In celebration of National Tequila Day, Coyo Taco is offering $5 draft margaritas and $7 frozen blood orange red bull margaritas. This awesome deal is redeemable at all Coyo Taco locations (Wynwood, Brickell, Coral Gables, and Palm Beach). If you’re not comfortable with outdoor dining, Coyo is also offering curbside pick-up and Margarita Gallons to go for $39.99. Simply open, pour, sip- all while staying safe at home!

Celebrating Tequila Day, Monty’s Raw Bar has created a signature Rosemary Pina-Rita’s for $10 all day. The cocktail features fresh pineapple, Blanco tequila, and rosemary essence. Monty’s Happy Hour is from 4-7 p.m. and it includes $6 frozen margaritas including mango, strawberry, and the classic with fresh lime. In honor of the festivities. Taquerias el Mexicano, the “Mexico City-style” taqueria in Little Havana is serving 2 for 1 on all tequila cocktails for their garden dining guests. Choose between their Diablo con Fuego Cocktail, Mango, or traditional Margarita

Diablo Con Fuego
Diablo con Fuego from Taquerias El Mexicano

Spanglish craft cocktail bar and kitchen located in Wynwood is offering curbside pick-up for both food and cocktails. Spanglish is offering a limited time “Chai-Kwando” cocktail, through Sunday, July 26th. This cocktail features chai infused tequila, hibiscus coconut reduction, lime, and spiced salt at 2 for $15 dollars or a bottle size for $55.

Bodega Taqueria and Tequila in Miami Beach are offering virtual happy hours from 6-8 p.m., with $5 frozen margaritas. To celebrate National Tequila Day Bodega has partnered with Casamigos Tequila to put together a tequila day essentials kit to celebrate at home. Complete with Casamigos Boston shaker, tajin, eye patches, and of course a bottle of Blanco Casamigos Tequila.

Take the party home with El Tikilero cocktail 3lts pouches to-go ( 3lts = 4 bottles 750ml) from Esotico, made with Herradura Tequila, Gem & Bolt Mezcal, fresh pineapple juice, and their secret blue agave mix all harmoniously blended together with a touch of allspice is also available on Happy Hour at Esotico Miami’s Patio.

Tequila Herradura will be offering free cocktails and giveaways at the following locations: Oh Mexico from 1 pm – 3 pm, Tequiztlan from 6 pm – 8 pm, R house from 5 pm – 7 pm and Tacology from 5 pm – 7 pm. Blend your complimentary drink while pedaling Herradrura’s bike. Participate in Tacology’s giveaway for a chance to win a Helicopter ride with Keen fly Can’t get any better than this! Don’t forget to tag us @2ozmag to be featured in our stories.

At home Recipe by Chef Scott Linquist: Passionista 

Chef Scott Linquist is a world-renown chef and restaurateur. He is currently the Chef Partner at Coyo Taco. With his unique concept development strategy and well versed in all cuisines, his beverage programs are akin to a cocktail lover’s degustation menu. 

passionista 1
Image credit: 52 chefs
  • 1.5 oz Blanco Tequila
  • ½ oz Ancho Reyes liqueur
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • 1 oz passion fruit puree
  • 1 oz orange juice
  • 1 oz agave nectar
  • ½ oz Grand Marnier
  1. Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice cubes, pour all ingredients except Grand Marnier over the ice and shake vigorously. 
  2. Strain into a martini glass. Carefully pour Grand Marnier on top (using the back of a spoon helps) so it floats, garnish with an orange slice. 
  3. Rim the glass with salt or Tajin if you prefer it.

Cheers!

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