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Kyandreia Jones

Who doesn’t like a healthy dose of competition? 

 Last week, Woodford Reserve and Herradura Tequila sponsored Battle Bar TV’s thrilling Season 1 Finale. Andrew Lue, an award-winning mixologist, bar consultant, and local influencer founded Bar Battle TV. Bar Battle TV is the first Bartending Competition show of its kind and thrives off bartenders whose personalities, expertise, and competitiveness easily shine for a global audience. Woodford Reserve and Herradura Tequila’s sponsorship was an integral part of the event’s success. The brands’ participation arose due to a deep respect for what Battle Bar TV represents.  

“Bar Battle showcases the talent and ingenuity of our local trade members under pressure,” said Woodford Reserve Brand Ambassador Natalia Cardenas. “Woodford Reserve and Herradura Tequila were honored to be the presenting sponsors of the Inaugural Season Finale.”

Woodford Reserve and Herradura Tequila gave the competition show an opportunity to stand out and promote fun, excitement, and community. The finale took place at Oasis in Wynwood and there were over eighty guests who attended the exhilarating trade-focused, head-to-head cocktail competition.  Although brands from all over the world sponsor Bar Battle TV, the first season of the competition was set against the backdrop of Miami. Last Monday’s event gave the best of the best bartenders a chance to claim not only glory but also a Bar TV 2021 Champion belt, a cash prize, and a bottle of Herradura Tequila. 

 The event included a thrilling competition, an exuberant crowd, and a performance by a phenomenal musical artist. Orilla Bartender Rodrigo Tubert and Lido Restaurant &  Champagne Bar Bartender Derek Stilmann competed for the title of Champion Mixologist. Los Angeles’ very own Ilan Hall, a celebrity chef and winner of Top Chef Season 2, served as the event’s guest judge. With only 45 minutes at their disposal, the two competitors used Woodford Reserve and Herradura Tequila brands to create three innovative and creative cocktails using secret ingredients. The two bartenders created their cocktails with style, flair, and showmanship.

Laughing, cheering, and staring nervously, the crowd could not get enough of them. Both competitors put up a valiant effort. However, it was Derek Stilmann who was suited for success. Stilmann took home the Champion belt while Rodrigo Tubert took home an inscribed bottle of Woodford Reserve’s, losing has never tasted so good.  

The night’s festivities did not end with the competition. Woodford Reserve and Herradura Tequila also provided an educational alcohol station that featured free samples as well as cocktails and bottle service for sale. Walshy Fire, a Grammy-winning artist and member of the musical trio Major Lazer, gave an unforgettable live performance. 

If the finale is any indication, the first season of Bar Battle TV’s success stems from Lue’s ability to showcase local talent to a global audience. Woodford Reserve and Herradura Tequila’s sponsorship also gave attendees the opportunity to discover the importance of educating, engaging, and exciting viewers and event attendees alike. 

Purchase your very own bottle of Woodford Reserve whiskey and Herradura Tequila’s finest products at https://www.woodfordreserve.com/ and https://www.herradura.com/ respectively. Visit https://barbattletv.com/ and follow Andrew Lue @just_callme_lue on Instagram to be the first to know when Season 2 of Bar Battle TV begins!

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Miami, FL (October 2021)- Rock N Roll Tequila is proud to announce that two of their phenomenal Tequilas have placed in the New York World Wine & Spirits 2021 Competition (NYWSC) for one of the best flavored Tequila. 

Rock N Roll’s Strawberry Tequila claimed the Bronze medal while their Mango Tequila took home the Silver at the NYWSC, a highly competitive and respected event. These medals are a testament to COO Chris Ferrone and Master Distiller Jose Aceves’s dedication to crafting a Tequila that not only looks incredible but also has an exquisite taste to complement its gorgeous aesthetic. The award-winning  Strawberry Tequila debuted this past July after the Rock N Roll team noticed that customers adored their Mango Tequila. This latest and greatest Rock N Roll Tequila delivers a tantalizing scent of fresh strawberries and a delicious strawberry, sweet caramel, and cooked agave flavor. The triumphant Mango Tequila offers a sweet caramel, mango, and crisp citrus taste.  

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“It’s been an incredible journey over the past few years, developing a brand that has now become a triple threat to the ultra-premium Tequila category with beautiful taste profiles, an iconic name, and a beautiful package,” said Chris Ferrone in regards to his brand’s accomplishments. “Every award accomplished still has the same feeling as the first.”

Rock N Roll Tequila’s NYWSC achievement follows a series of successful competition turnouts. Earlier this year, Rock N Roll entered their Cristalino Añejo in the San Francisco Spirits 2021 Competition and earned a Silver medal. This past summer, Rock N Roll Tequila entered their Platinum Triple Distilled Tequila into The Fifty Best Competition and won the Gold medal. According to Creative Director Tayler Faoro, Rock N Roll will continue to show up and show out at these esteemed competitions. “We plan to enter more spirit competitions as we grow,” said Tayler. “We want everyone to know the quality of Tequila we make. It’s not just a fancy bottle.”

After its success at NYWSC, Rock N Roll is on a hot streak with no plan to slow down. The Rock N Roll team continues to create new, exciting flavors to delight consumers and stun competitors. “Myself being 4th generation in the wine and spirits industry alongside my family of master distillers, Casa Aceves, being 3rd generation Tequila Makers, we collectively hold our family legacies equally at heart, ensuring every production run is just as great, if not better than the previous batch,” said Chris. Rock N Roll has a limited edition Cristalino Reposado debuting on November 1st with a Day of the Dead concept. 

1 1In addition to showing their brand’s winning spirit in competitions, Rock N Roll brings that same enthusiasm, charm, and quality to its local community. Rock N Roll has pop-up events throughout Miami-Dade and Broward County to connect and engage with the community. “The community has responded very well to our pop-ups. We do traditional tastings along with resident-only exclusive pop-ups to help bring our community together while introducing them to our amazing Tequilas,” said Tayler. There will be a pop-up event at another building in Flagler Village Ftl this month. 

For more information on the award-winning Tequilas, updates on pop-up events, and much more, follow Rock N Roll Tequila on instagram (@rocknrolltequila) and visit their website at for more https://rocknrolltequila.com

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Fun, easy, and delicious. It’s time to up your shot game with LIQS Cocktail Shot. Since 2013, LIQS has been a convenient and reliable way to consume ready-to-drink products. Ready-to-drink products have been the only alcohol product to grow during the COVID-19 pandemic. E & J Gallo recently acquired LIQS Cocktail Shot, and their product is now available across the United States. Each Cocktail Shot is made with premium spirits, real fruit juices, and natural flavors. They are also low in sugar, low in calories, gluten-free, and completely natural. 

The makers of the LIQS Cocktail Shots have kept the environment in mind by creating an environmentally conscious product. The 50ml shot glasses are not only reusable but are also recyclable. According to the LIQS website, the shot glasses are manufactured with sturdy and BPA-free shot glasses from #1 PET plastic which is the most widely recycled plastic in the world. A night of drinks with little to no environmental impact? The future is looking a little brighter and much more fun. 

004On the subject of fun, there are five flavors available. The first flavor from which to choose is the Vodka Lemon Drop which is “the most popular shot in America.” The Vodka Lemon Drop has real lemon juice and sugar cane. It is 20% ABV, 40 proof, gluten-free, and only 123 calories. Another available flavor is the Vodka Kamikaze. This shot is typically made from vodka, triple sec liqueur, and lime juice. The LIQS version is infused with a hint of natural vanilla that makes an already classic shot all the more irresistible. 

Like the Vodka Lemon Drop, the Vodka Kamikaze has the same ABV, proof, and gluten-free qualities. However, this shot boasts a mere 109 calories. With the next flavor, Vodka Lychee Grapefruit, the LIQS team accomplishes an incredible feat. In the 102 calorie shot, the citrus of grapefruit balances effortlessly with the sweetness of lychee. Then, there is the Tequila Cinnamon Orange. A true LIQS original, this innovative flavor combination is an industry first that promises to change the way consumers conceptualize a tequila shot. Last, there is the Whiskey Fireshot which is as hot as it sounds. This shot combines premium whiskey with pure cinnamon and vanilla crème to create a devilishly appetizing shot.

All five flavors are available to order nationwide. To order from the world’s first premium cocktail shots, visit their website at https://www.liqs.com/home/

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The Craft Spirits ‘N Cocktails Festival, Miami’s largest exhibition of spirits and cocktails, is only one month away. The festival will take place in Iconic Cruz Building in Coconut Grove on Friday, October 8th, 2021. The main event will demonstrate the best and brightest components of resurgent spirits and cocktail culture for all attendees to enjoy. Consumers will not only learn about and engage with the world of spirits, but they will also get the chance to explore the essence and allure of the industry. 

Craft Spirits ‘N Cocktails Founder, Frank Moreno, cannot wait to celebrate with Miami spirits and cocktail consumers and enthusiasts. “The goal when we started was to create a memorable event, where the curious novice or experienced aficionado, had the opportunity to learn and enjoy the craftsmanship and authenticity that goes into spirits and cocktails,” said Moreno. However, for the eighth year, Moreno is eager to entice a more specific audience. “This year we are limiting attendance to elevate the experience and safety for attendees and brands alike,” explained Moreno. 

There is more fun to be found as more spirit and cocktail enthusiasts abound. In addition to the five-day celebration, the days before the festival will include bartender competitions, happy hours, and many more activities to set a fun, thrilling tone for the subsequent event. 

On Monday, October 4th, the week of Craft Spirits ‘N Cocktails will kick off with an exciting competition called the BareKnuckle Bartender™ which will take place at 8 p.m. During the competition, Miami’s biggest and baddest bartenders will compete to make the best cocktails in a “Chopped-style” competition. The winner will earn the highly sought-after title of BareKnuckle Bartender Champ. The event is open to the public so everyone has the opportunity to start the week off with some fun, excitement, and good old-fashioned battle bartending. This event’s location is TBD so attendees should be on the lookout for more information so they don’t miss out on this opportunity. 

On Tuesday, October 5th, attendees can up the ante by heading to Cerveceria La Tropical (42 NE 25th St). Cerveceria La Tropical will host a Tapped Tuesday Extravaganza that starts at 7 p.m. Guests can “pre-game” with a Happy Hour highlighted by beer and spirited cocktails. This event is also open for the public’s enjoyment.  

On Wednesday, October 6th, ladies may strut on over to Bar Nancy (2007 SW 8th St) for Women, Whiskey & Wieners™. In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the best women in the Miami bar industry will make and serve divine and delectable whiskies and whiskey cocktails from 6 to 10 p.m. The best part? A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Miami USBG Relief Fund. This event is open to the public so come one and come all for the festivities.   

Last but not least, all the fun festival events come to a culmination on Friday, October 8th. It’s the moment everyone has been waiting for, the belle of the ball, la piece de la resistance, Craft Spirits ‘N Cocktails 2021. Craft Spirits ‘N Cocktails will take place at The Cruz Building (3157 Commodore Plaza) from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. This incredible, large-scale tasting event will showcase over 100 spirits and cocktails from across the country and around the world. Attendees may also delight in food samples from local restaurants, Prohibition Era live jazz, DJ, and a rooftop cigar lounge! Tickets start at $75. 

GET IN THE SPIRIT

Here are some of the spirits that consumers can expect at Craft Spirits ‘N Cocktails 2021:

6 O’clock Gin, Abasolo Whisky, Aperol Liqueur, Brugal Rum, Bulldog Gin, Campari, Chinola Liqueur, Gubba Rum, E11ven Vodka, Fistful of Bourbon, Ghost Tequila, Hendrick’s Gin, Herradura Tequila, Hudson Whiskey, Jack Daniels Signature Whiskies, Jagermeister, Milagro Tequila, Nixta Liqueur, Old Forester Signature Bourbons, NEFT Vodka, Ojo de Tigre Mezcal, Rivi Gin, Russell’s Reserve Whiskies, Santa Teresa Rum, St. George Spirits, Soul Cachaca, Strega Liqueur, Terremoto Tequila, Uncle Nearest Whiskey, WhistlePig Rye Whiskies, Wild Turkey Whiskies, Woodford Reserve Bourbons, and more!


To learn about events, save the date or for more information, visit https://www.craftspiritsfest.com/. Tickets are available at  http://snc2021.eventbrite.com/. Get them quickly because there is a limited supply!

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Jassil, the first woman to become Maestra Ronera for Brugal and the youngest Master of Rum in the industry, grew up listening to her family tell the story of Ron Brugal. She has always known that she was a part of his legacy. When she realized that she could make a career in rum, she became fascinated with the industry. With a skilled nose and refined palate, Jassil began acting on her fascination and training as a “Maestra Ronera”. (Master of Rum) 

In a recent interview, we asked her about continuing the legacy for Brugal Rum, and Jassil said, “Becoming Maestra Ronera gave me the opportunity to open new doors in the spirits industry for women of my generation and of future generations to enjoy the wonderful world behind rum creation. It has also given me the opportunity to honor and be part of the legacy of the Brugal brand.”

“At the same time,” continued Jassil. “It’s difficult and intimidating to combine tradition and innovation because it’s a big responsibility. It requires originality and confidence to take risks while respecting the history of “the process…” It’s a welcome challenge because I’m doing something I love.”

Creating a product with positive international reception also feeds into Jassil’s love for her craft. “I have been able to create great products that people love and admire globally, and have been able to represent my country, Dominican Republic, with indescribable pride,” said Jassil. 

After creating Brugal 1888, Jassil has another accomplishment of which to be proud. The current Maestros Roneros, including Jassil, created Brugal 1888 in honor of their ancestor’s innovation and long-established goal to create quality rum.  The rum benefits from the skills and expertise passed down through five generations of the Brugal family Maestros Roneros. 

“There are secrets that are to this day still kept in the hands of the family rum masters,” teased Jassil. 

Brugal Family 1Brugal 1888 Doblemente Añejado is a rum that is produced in the Dominican Republic. It is created by combining the full flavors of bourbon and sherry casks through a double-aging process. The double-aging technique, though usually reserved for high-end, single malts, allows consumers to sip Brugal 1888. The smooth, balanced rum also has notes of vanilla, red fruits, and toffee intertwined with cocoa and natural oak spice. Finally, a long-lasting aftertaste leaves a desirable hint of honey that is both elegant and divine. 

Brugal 1888 inspires consumers to reimagine their favorite stirred, spirit-forward cocktail. They can discover a Rum Negroni or Old-fashioned with a memorable and distinct taste. Or rum enthusiasts can enjoy the spirit neat to stimulate their senses and witness how the rum evolves in the glass.

Screen Shot 2021 08 20 at 8.15.09 PMAccording to Brugal’s website, Don Andres Brugal Montaner had one idea when he moved to the Dominican Republic. He dreamed of perfecting the art of rum-making. In 1888, Don actualized that dream by creating the Brugal company and thus the Brugal legend.

Five generations and nearly 130 years later, the Brugal Family continues to craft the $40 rum. Only family members become Maestro Ronero. Jassil Villanueva Quintana and Gustavo Ortega Zeller currently hold the honor of living out their family legacy.

Jassil, what do you enjoy the most from all the processes as Maestra Ronera? 

As a Maestra Ronera, I am involved in all aspects of the rum making process but most of my focus and work is within the Ageing and Formulation of Brugal. Quality cask and wood is so important for the development of Brugal rum’s flavor so overseeing this and inspecting quality is a key part of my role that I really enjoy. Also leading the development of new products and trying to create new flavors through the combinations of casks and blends is a really rewarding part of the role.  

How do you differ from other Master Rum Makers? What qualities should a successful Maestra Ronera possess?

Maestros Roneros is the name given to Brugal’s Master Rum Makers,  every rum master should have as a member of the Brugal family.

 To be a Brugal Maestro Ronero independently for being a member of the family we need to have sensory skills, a deep knowledge of the products based on the development of the senses, as well as an excellent gustative capacity to define the mixtures in the elaboration of the rums. It is an art that requires great talent, dedication and passion for the world of rum.

What do you think are the new challenges into creating new spirits? 

One of the challenges for new generations in the rum industry is to keep the spirit of innovation and creativity that characterizes our industry alive and to continue sharing a passion and appreciation for the craft of rum making with the world.

In the case of Brugal, the 5th generation of Brugal Maestros Roneros continue to work on developing new products for the years to come. The best contribution we can make is to add our own personal touch and continue to serve as role models and advocates for rum and the generations to come. That is the most important legacy we will leave.

Where do you see the Rum industry today and in the future?

I believe the Rum Industry is permanently in search, and attentive to the emergence of new business opportunities, and tries to foresee the changes that lie ahead. Helping us with the knowledge, experience, capacity and common sense necessary to make good decisions is what anyone needs today and, in the future, to continue making this spirits category full of innovation where brands such as Brugal offer a unique involvement to consumers by adapting the experiences and profiles of rums to the new trends.

What’s coming up for Brugal, anything you can share with us?

There are a few exciting things planned over the next few months, but you’ll have to wait and see! 

For more information about Brugal 1888, visit their website at Brugal-rum.com and follow their journey on Instagram (@brugal1888rum). You may also find updates on Twitter @ronburgal_es , Facebook Ronbrugalrd, and Youtube Brugal Rum USA  

*Images credit Brugal 1888*

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At Krüs Kitchen, Wednesdays are the best days. Krüs Wine Wednesday Tastings are available every Wednesday and feature wine that Krus Kitchen’s very own Wine expert and Krüs co-founder Josh Hackler has meticulously selected. With exceptional music from Vinyl Djs, Chef Sebastián’s most delicious bites, and a fantastic assortment of wine, Josh provides guests with an excellent atmosphere to wine down.

Josh

Josh Hackler, Co- Founder

As Josh aptly stated in a sit-down interview with 2oz Mag Creator Helena Jose, Krüs Wine is “a place for people to learn and enjoy wine.” Helmed by Josh and his expertise, enthusiasm, and unmatched eagerness for the craft, Krüs wine functions as a place to satisfy curiosity and explore the vast and incredible world of wine without fear, insecurity, or pretension. 

Josh is no stranger to the hospitality industry. “I had a wine business out of college,” said Josh describing his life before Krüs. “I imported Spanish wine. I lived in Spain. I sold that business in 2016 and wanted to go back to my roots in hospitality…I’ve been in the hospitality industry my whole life.”

Josh decided to co-found Krüs because of his past experiences and his present passions. “Given my influence of food and wine, and my background in importing wine, I really wanted to create a program that was both on-premise and off-premise,” said Josh. “Miami laws allow for that which is unique here in the city.”

“We wanted to create a space where we could tell a story and really promote learning and the whole education side on-premise,” continued Josh. “Obviously, [it was also great to] have a good time drinking great wine. But also [it was important to have] a great physical space to promote…a unique wine program.”  

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According to the Krüs Market website, Josh and his team are intentional about their wine selection. Last week, Krüs ended Season 1 with Zero Zero wine. Zero Zero wine producers remove themselves from the winemaking process and allow nature to shape and improve upon the product. The name of the wine comes from the fact that there is “ zero synthetic chemical input in the vineyard and zero in the winemaking process.”

Further, the Krüs team offers low-intervention producers who not only provide an exquisite product but also express a deep “respect and care for their vines and wine.” There have been over 24 tastings hosted at Krüs Kitchen so far, and individual themes allow each tasting to stand out from the last. For the second season, Josh intends to move from wine tastings to wine events. 

The Krüs wine events will continue educating guests on all things wine while also allowing guests to socialize among themselves. Guests will sample wines and listen to the musical stylings of the vinyl Dj as they meet and greet other like-minded wine novices, connoisseurs, and enthusiasts. In the spirit of the first few wine tastings, Krüs is committed to offering a safe, comfortable environment for guests to enjoy the festivities. Because there are only ten tickets available each week, guests should note that tickets go live for sale each Thursday for the following week’s tasting. 

In addition to the wine tastings and upcoming wine events, guests can join the Krüs Wine Club.  Club members have access to a “world-class curation of natural, organic, and biodynamic wines.” For $100 a month (plus tax and delivery fees), members will receive four natural wines that the Krüs team curated with care. The shipments go out the first week of every month. However, members can save money and avoid the shipping cost by picking their box up from Krüs Kitchen themselves. Other membership perks include 10% off all artisanal Krüs Market items, $10 off WednesdayWinetasting tickets, and 15% off half cases of six wines. Lastly, a complimentary Krüs Market item is available for pick-up during your first month of membership.

The first event is set to kick off the first week of September but keep up to date on upcoming events by going to the Krüs Kitchen website https://www.kruskitchen.com. You can also click the social media icons to get the latest updates on products, tastings, and other exciting opportunities like joining the Krüs Wine Club.

Hours:

Monday: Closed

Tuesday – Friday: 12-3 p.m., 5-9 p.m.

Saturday: 12-9 p.m.

Sundays: 12-5 p.m.

Location:

3413 Main Hwy, Miami, FL 33133

Website(s):

https://www.kruskitchen.com/ (MAIN)

https://www.krusmarket.com/ (MARKET)

Social:

https://www.instagram.com/kruskitchen/?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/Kruskitchen

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Gorilla Kie is a self-made mover and shaker. Her best qualities as a mixologist, bartender, and entrepreneur are being creative, innovative, and motivated. According to Kie, you have to be innovative to be creative, and to be creative, you have to be innovative. One cannot exist without the other. This Gorilla Kie Mixology motto is the code that she lives by, and her creativity, innovation, and motivation allow her to turn everything she touches into gold. With her Midas Touch and signature gorilla moves, Gorilla Kie pays homage to her ambitious, artist self and her Haitian culture. Kie has also made a name for herself and set herself apart as one to watch as her charisma and charm catapult her to local stardom. Gorilla kie is currently a Bar Manager at Syndicate Wynwood where she also created a cocktail menu with her very own consulting company, Gorilla Kie Mixology.

Tell us your story and hospitality background. 

I’ve been in the hospitality industry for about seven or eight years. I’ve been bartending for about seven years. I have worked for corporate restaurants such as Darden. They have Bahama Breeze and Red Lobster- I’ve worked at both. I’ve also started doing creative cocktail making which is what people know me for today. I’ve only been doing it for about two years. I am self-taught. I never went to bartending school. I’ve taken a couple of classes online as far as certificates to better understand my craft. Everything, for me, is just an art of expression.  I like to say that I am a spirit serving the spirits to spirits. So my spirits need to be crafted and delegated in a manner in which people can respect, enjoy, and understand what it is that I do and why I do it. 

What inspired you to become a mixologist? What influences your mixology?

I have always had a great fascination with people throwing bottles in the air and then making beautiful art. I do not have anyone who I want to be like. If anything, I’m probably going to be the first of my kind. I am definitely paying homage to the people who have been in the industry for many years, especially the Blacks that traveled North to own their own restaurants and bars in the D.C. and Chicago area. Blacks were creating the Mint Julep, for example, which is huge for the Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby these days. I definitely pay homage to things of that nature, however, when it comes to my craft, everything is inspired. I’m an artist. I’m a creator. I try to make the best out of anything and everything that I do. 

Gorilla Kie MixWhat are the key characteristics of being a successful mixologist? 

Anybody can be a mixologist. Once you taste something and you fall in love with it, you just start to create ideas. Anyone can do that. What makes me “Gorilla Kie,” what sets me apart from any and everybody else, is that I take it a step further. Mixology is one of my reasons to connect with humanity. These days people are on their phones. There isn’t a lot of social activity going on between one human and the next. When people come to my bar, or when I go to people for private events, it is a perfect opportunity to be able to talk to people. It’s a perfect opportunity to be able to say, “Hey, how are you doing?” It’s great to have a conversation with people for people to open up. Spirits can be a really good thing or a really bad thing. A lot of people like to call it the Devil’s Juice, but I like to call it Gorilla Kie’s Juice because it is a therapeutic, medicinal method. 

How do you differ from other mixologists?

I give a beautiful experience to people. I try to change people’s perspective and understanding of what it means to come to a bar. For me, as a woman, a person of color, and the L in the LGBT, I want to be able to change perspectives. I am the minority in this industry so I want to leave a positive imprint for people. Most importantly, I want people to take a positive message when they leave my bar: they may come in one way, but they will leave another (happy). That is the most fulfilling aspect when it comes to this craft.  It’s not just cocktail making. It’s getting to know people. It’s getting to love people. It’s getting to build those relationships that can last a lifetime!

Is there any advice you would impart to individuals who don’t see themselves in the industry but who may want to be a part of it?

What I would say to people who want to be in this industry, who happen to identify as a minority in any way, is to understand what it is that they love and if they can see themselves doing it every day.  One of the ways to be able to do that is to practice that craft and ask yourself if you’ve become exhausted or tired of it. That is not necessarily to be misconstrued with being burned out because anybody can be burned out with something they love. Everything in moderation. If you don’t feel like it is something you can do on an everyday basis, then it is not your passion. But if it is, find creative ways to make it your best. Have conversations with fellow people about your line of work to see if it’s something you really want to do. Once you figure that out, maximize to your fullest potential.  No matter what color, creed or walk of life people are; ask and inquire about some knowledge to become the best at your craft. Not only will You find this most rewarding, but you will  further understand that this is a great way to becoming your best self. 

You are known as “Gorilla Kie”. What is the significance of the Gorilla?

Gorillas are my spirit animal. My mom is an American educator and my father is an immigrant from Haiti who became a Master Electrician and Contractor. I grew up in a strict household when it came to education and when it came to what my brother and I were fed on television. We couldn’t watch cable during the week. All we were left with was Bill Nye: The Science Guy, the Discovery Channel, etc. Within that process, I used to love watching documentaries about animals. I fell in love with gorillas. You know how they say that lions are the kings of the safari? Well, gorillas are the king of the jungle. I stay true to that. This industry is a jungle within itself so I am that gorilla. I am that king. I am a queen in every way, but I am a king as well. I believe that one and the other are a unit. They are still royalty. They are still top tier. I am an androgynous individual. Yes, I am female, but I have a lot of masculine qualities. I see myself as “king”. Loosely based on that, I put “Kie” for “Kierra” for short.  

2021 04 26 Woodford Reserve Chose FR 14019 EditedYou are also known for your signature Gorilla moves. Where did these moves originate?

My moves developed over time. A lot of people don’t know that I practiced Martial Arts when I was younger. Because of muscle memory, my foot movement carried over to my shaking methods. While shaking or when I scream, I’m literally calling on the ancestors. I am aiming to make sure that, before I give the cocktail, it is gifted with the spirit’s presence. That might be the Haitian in me. I move accordingly depending on what cocktail I’m making or who I’m talking to. It’s not choreographed. I just go with it. I am all about physics and alchemy. It is all a form of energy being put into that spirit. It has to be perfect. If it’s not perfect, it’s unconducive with me. That is the meaning behind ‘the shake’. 

On your IG you say, “I AM, THE Mixologist/Bartender who turns everything ‘TOUCHED’ into GOLD.” When did you learn that you had the Midas Touch and how has it impacted your professional and/or personal life?

I am a very powerful individual. I mean that in a spiritual and a courageous way. I am very confident in knowing that anything I do will be done to the best of my ability. Whether it’s a conversation, making a cocktail, or taking my lovely wife out to dinner, it is going to be a golden moment. Gold, other than diamond, is one of the most precious stones in this world. I am gold. I see myself as gold. I see myself as unbreakable. I am a stone of color. Gold is very powerful and so I want any and everything I do, touch, or say, to be impacted on that next individual equivalently. 

How would you describe Miami in three words? How would you describe the Mixology scene?

I was born and raised here in Miami. If I can describe Miami in three words I would say breeze, hot, and fine. That is Miami. When it comes to the Mixology scene, I’ll be honest, and say that we need a lot of work. I am well traveled when it comes to the Mixology scene in the United States. I don’t really know a scene here. I am not one who has been in the game for a long time compared to some individuals not living in Miami. There are ambitious professionals in the game of mixology. They go to different distilleries and learn how to become Master Blenders- hopefully one day.  I don’t see the same charisma down here in Miami. For me, personally, that is a challenge and I would really like to help change that. 

Discuss Gorilla Kie Mixology LLC. What are some of your services?

I have been asked to start a business for the longest time. I was thinking to myself, “How would I start a business?” I’m the last person in my family to become a business owner. I’m the first person in my family to be in this line of business. I wanted to monetize and maximize my business with what it is that I do. I started to create cocktails for pop up shows. I would pre-package them. I thought, number one, it’s a great way to network. Number two, it’s a great way to get your name out there. Number three, it’s a great way to find out what these Gorilla Kie cocktails are all about and also setting up a safe, creative space for people to come and see me outside of the bar. I can have more personal interactions with them. These were some of the incentives of starting a business. Another incentive was being able to be a cocktail consultant. One of my most recent projects, there is a new bar called Syndicate Wynwood, that is getting ready to open. I was responsible for creating one of their menus. That was a lot of fun so I was thinking that I could make some really good money off of creative cocktail making. I could have conversations and find out what people like. I try to meet those expectations which is something I do on an everyday basis. 80% of the cocktails that I make at my bar are for the first time. Why? Because when people come, I do not like to offer what’s on the menu. I like to talk to them. I like to find out their favorite spirit. I like to find out what kind of flavors and food they like. Then, I make a masterpiece cocktail off of that, right there. I also do freelance bartending at weddings, anniversaries, etc.  For pricing, people can go through my instagram.  

Are you able to discuss your upcoming Cocktail Bar Syndicate Wynwood Miami? If so, what was the process of pursuing this venture? How did you meet your business partner/ creator friend Andres Gill? What inspired you two to go into business together?

Andres Gill has an extensive resume when it comes to bars in Miami. He is very well known within our community. I was introduced to him by my cousin. Once he and my cousin got together, and she let him know who I was, the opportunity for Syndicate Wynwood was later extended to me. Being that over a period of time, I was able to say this is what I have been able to do and these are the pictures I’ve taken. I showed my charisma when it comes to creative cocktail making. When I make a cocktail, this is how intense it is for me and how serious I take it. I think that I was able to hit all the nails in the wall with one strike. That is why they reached out to me when it came to creating the menu. 

On your IG, you write that you are the woman with the hat that dreams. What is the significance of your hat? When did you start wearing it and how does it relate to your approach to your craft?

I started wearing hats on an everyday basis back when I met my wife. That was in 2015.  I have always been a lover of hats. On my mother’s side, who is American (her mom is from Mississippi), these southern women are always known for their extravagant looking hats that they wear when they go to church on Sundays. Even though I didn’t have any hats, I would always wear my grandma’s hats whenever I went to church with her. As far as my Haitian side, my grandfather is known for his fedoras with their feathers. He would have his Hennessy or his Barbancourt while he’s playing dominoes. I just think of the confidence. The way he walks. He is a man to be respected. He has always had this spirit on him. You walk differently when you wear your crown. My hair is my crown. My mind, most importantly, is my crown. I never leave the house without my hat because it is a reminder to carry my mind with me when I walk through the door. For me, that is the reason I take such pride when it comes to my hats. They’re an extension of me. I wear the hat. The hat does not wear me. It is personal. I wear these hats well because they are where my ways of life stem from. 

What is the best way to contact you?

Follow Gorilla Kie on IG @master_gorilla_kie, @go_kie_mix, and @thegorillakieshow

 

*All the images credits goes to @52chefs 

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Give the National Ambassador of Abasolo Whisky and Nixta Licor de Elote, Cesar Sandoval three adjectives, and he will make you an incredible drink. From cooking with his mom and two sisters to becoming a part of the hospitality industry at fifteen, Sandoval has always loved leaving people grateful, happy, and excited for an unforgettable experience. Sandoval, a first-generation Mexican, is no stranger to the power of serving one’s community. As a national ambassador, he continues to bring people a joyous product that thrives from its Mexican heritage and pays homage to its culture in flavor, aesthetic, and production. 

What drew you to the hospitality industry? 

I was born in El Paso, Texas. I am a first-generation Mexican American and currently live in San Diego. Hospitality started with my family. My mom, two sisters and I would be in the kitchen cooking different things together and listening to music. My first job was at a restaurant as a host.  I was fifteen years old, I started there and never looked back; I fell in love, it was addicting. From there, I worked my way up in almost every position in the industry, with the most recent position being bar director for a restaurant group. Hospitality is my passion! I love making cocktails, I love seeing the guests’ instant gratitude. It is beautiful! 

How did you get involved with Abasolo? 

Our Director of Advocacy and dear friend Camille Austin, reached out to me and asked if I was interested in creating a new project that would be revolutionary. We continued to stay in contact and while both of us kept doing our research it became evident that this new brand and myself were a perfect match. When I finally got the opportunity to try Abasolo for the first time, I decided to taste it blindly without looking at any bottle or label design, I sipped it and it instantly put a smile on my face, something I had never tasted in spirit form. The rich corn flavor and complexity was complete nostalgia, it took me back to those days in the kitchen with my mother making atole, tamales and fresh tortillas. It was fantastic!

Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky 5 Photo Credit Abasolo Ancestral Corn WhiskyWhat should we know about Abasolo Whisky? 

It’s truly a unique whisky unlike any other. It embodies the true flavor and expression of corn that has never been done before. It uses an ancestral cooking technique Nixtamalization which is how you convert maiz into masa. Without it we would not have beautiful dishes like tortillas, tamales, tlayudas and many more. It adds amazing flavors and aromas that you simply cannot get without it, and no other spirit has ever harnessed this process. We work with local family farmers that have been growing cacahuazintle for over 200 years. This is an ancestral corn that has been protected for thousands of years. We do a long fermentation process, double distil and age outdoors in the beautiful hills of Jilotepec de Abasolo. 

Would you say Nixta and Abasolo go together? What is the difference between Nixta and Abasolo? 

Abasolo is a new world whisky unlike any other, we use ancestral non-GMO cacahuazintle corn that is native to Mexico. We work directly with farmers, use a Mesoamerican cooking process called nixtamalization, we roast the corn after the nixtamalization, and a part of our corn is malted at our distillery. We then do a long 5-day fermentation, we double distilled in small copper pot stills and finally aged outdoors, really encompassing the full circle of our spirits starting and ending in the fields. 

Nixta was born out of our desire to keep innovating around Abasolo. When making Abasolo and whisky in general there is a grace period while waiting for your whisky to age where some distillers would make vodka, our master distiller Ivan Saldana wanted to do something different and completely revolutionary. We started experimenting with our corn mash, with the same cacahuazintle corn but at a younger stage in its life. Instead of using fully mature maiz we used the tender corn which we know as elote, the same corn used for esquites. It is naturally tender and sweet, and we roast half of it and the other half leave as is. We then macerate it with our unaged Abasolo for around 4 months, and then add our unfermented maiz mash that we use to make Abasolo, and the result is fantastic. Finally, we add a natural sugar in its purest form that is essential in Mexico called Piloncillo. The results are one of a kind, making it perfect for any and every cocktail occasion. They are a perfect pair, they go very well together, my favorite is a Jilo Old Fashioned, 2 oz. Abasolo Ancestral Corn Whisky, .5 oz. Nixta Licor de Elote, and a couple dashes of bitters. 

Cesar 2How is Abasolo created? 

It all starts with our farmers; they are the soul and spirit of our whisky and we could not be here without them. Juan Carlos Carmona and his family plant our cacahuazintle corn in late February and harvest towards the end of October. Once harvested, every single cob is inspected and hand cut gathering all our kernels that we eventually use for our spirit. Once the corn is perfectly dried it arrives at Destileria y Bodega Abasolo. We then take the corn and nixtamalize it, after we carefully roast the corn giving it another element of aroma and flavor. We also malt part of that corn making this whisky 100% corn. After that we mill the corn into a fine flour and add hot water and add yeast. This process takes around 5 days and once we have a fully fermented mash, we have a content of 10% – 12% ABV “corn beer” We then distill in our copper pot stills and it comes out at 40%ABV, and it is delicious! In order to get more out of our barrels, we need higher proof, so we do a slower second distillation resulting in a “white dog” of about 62.5% ABV. We then add that into our previously used American oak barrels and some new barrels and aged outdoors in the beautiful hills of Jilotepec. 

How is this process different from other whiskey making? 

We have taken the process of whisky making and have sort of flipped it on its head. Our main focus is on our raw ingredient – we care deeply about our corn, trying not to alternate the raw material, but to expose its unique, delicate flavor. We use nixtamalization, which has never been done before in any spirit or category, a long fermentation that is not normally done in whisky. and we open air age. Most whisky is usually aged in temperature-controlled warehouses or basements to control angels’ share. We age outdoors in the high hills of Jilotepec to give Abasolo a sense of place or what we think of terroir, really following our path of it being “Alma de la Tierra” Soul of the Earth

Screen Shot 2021 06 05 at 11.26.35 AMDo you think that because it is a small distillery, it brings the consistency of the flavor, or do you think that it might have a slight difference? 

We have a road map of where we want to go, and it is very consistent but the beauty in doing a craft spirit with a small production is the beauty that every batch can vary slightly. That is why people love agave spirits because depending on the batch there are slight aromas and flavors that are distinct to that specific lot. The other day, I was tasting a batch and I got a little more chamomile and roasted corn than the previous batch.  

What are your recommendations for drinking Abasolo? How would you drink it for the full experience? 

I personally love Abasolo neat or what I like to call “Abasolo Solo”, but it is such a beautiful, complex, yet wonderfully balanced whisky that can be served with a large cube and is so versatile in cocktails. It can do all the whisky cocktails, like Old Fashioneds and Boulevardiers, but because of it’s delicate flavor and the fact that it’s not over-oaked, it works well in cocktails where you’d normally use rum, agave, cachaca, and more. Lots of bartenders are thinking outside of the box and creating wonderful cocktails that may not necessarily use whisky originally, mixing it with tiki and agave cocktails. 

Is this a product that you can also pair with cigars?

Yes, we have had several cigar lovers tell us how well it pairs with cigars, it complements the cigar, the honey, leather, and earthy tones pair wonderfully with tobacco. 

As a brand ambassador, what is the role you like the most? 

I love education. I get nerdy. Knowledge is power. It sounds cliché, but it is true. I love sharing knowledge, sharing stories, and learning from all the experiences. The more I teach and educate the more I learn from all the wonderful people I get to meet. My goal, as a human being and as a National Ambassador representing Abasolo and Nixta, is to empower and inspire other people that may be interested in this industry to say, “I can do this!” or “I want to work for a Mexican company!” Out of all the things that this role requires, my favorite is hosting and doing pop ups. It is my Mexican hospitality. At the end of the day, I am a bartender. I love doing pops, you get to meet a lot of people across brands and networks. Doing distillery tours or when I take someone to Mexico is so rewarding. I love showing people the vast beauty that my beautiful country has to offer.

What are your other hobbies? 

I’m a musician. They kind of coincide music, food, cocktails, drinks. For me, that is what excites me. That is what I live for!

How do we follow your journey? 

IG: @saysar 

Website: https://www.abasolowhisky.com

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By launching Unfiltered Hospitality, Co-Creators Gui Jaroschy and Ben Potts boast a consulting company that “make experience better.” In addition to creating Unfiltered Hospitality, Jaroschy has designed menus or collaborated on products with Williams Sonoma, British Airways, The Smithsonian Museum, and The James Beard Foundation and won recognition as a mixologist, director, and personality. Potts is also the co-owner and creative director of award-winning bars The Sylvester and Beaker & Gray, one of the Top 10 Best Bartenders in Miami as well as the former director of training and bar education for Blackbird Ordinary, Purdy Lounge, and The Bar in Coral Gables. Their process-driven, experience-focused hospitality development strikes a balance between the professional and the personal to find sustainable, applicable solutions to problems within the industry. Their approach stands on four pillars: process, people, product, and performance. These pillars suggest that process and people are as fundamental as product and performance in efficiency and success. Unfiltered Hospitality allows clients to acquire the tools and the knowledge to feel empowered and achieve the best results. There is also an emphasis on coaching and consulting to build and develop lasting relationships that clients then cultivate with their employees and partners. Through their Beverage Consulting, Coaching and Development, and Brand Strategy services, industry professionals Jaroschy and Potts offer a quality investment that stems from a combined thirty achievement-filled years in the hospitality industry. 

How did you two meet? Tell us where your journey intersected. 

GJ: Ben and I met each other as far back as 2008 through mutual friends. I started to manage the Delano Hotel bar in 2009 and around that time Ben had started a hospitality headhunting company. He invited me out to lunch, we hit it off very well, and we became fast friends. Some years later, Ben was bartending and becoming quite good at it. He rose through Blackbird and some other places. He was leaving those places to open Beaker & Gray and I was managing Broken Shaker in Miami. I thought he needed a job for 3 months tops, and ended up working at Shaker for over a year.

How did you two become the co-creators of Unfiltered Hospitality?

GJ: During the pandemic, we had a little time on our hands. A project came up that [Ben] got and he brought me in this time. We decided that we wanted to do more work together.  

BP: We’ve both done consulting separately over the years. We saw that the traditional consulting model doesn’t always produce the desired effect. When we got first together, we were like let’s just take this on, have a couple of extra bucks in our pocket. We saw that there had to be a better way. It started with consulting and it’s something that we still do but that consulting led to a revelation that we had. That revelation was that management, and hospitality professionals in general, are severely underserved from an educational standpoint. 

What inspired you to create Unfiltered Hospitality? 

BP: We found that there is a great opportunity for us to share our experience and knowledge, from the years that we’ve had working behind bars, with those management and hospitality professionals. That led to the second arm of Unfiltered. We still have our consulting practice. We try to make it a much more comprehensive process. We’ll get into something that we called the four pillars. Every part of our business goes through the four pillars which are process, people, product, and performance. These pillars are ingrained in each of the things that we do. For the educational component, right now we have one product that helps people make better menus because the menu-making process is a nightmare. It is all over the place. If you don’t have an organizational system and you don’t set it up right or engage the team, you end up taking on all the work yourself, forgetting to do a ton of things, and being out of the product.

GJ: To a lot of people in hospitality management, it feels like a dead-end job. For me at least, when I was managing my first hotel bar, I was working my ass off six days a week to make 45,000 a year and two promotions ahead of me were my worst nightmare. At that time, I wanted to get a brand job and bartend again. At Shaker, one of a couple of things happened. One, there was a product that I was passionate about and I was working with people that I was good friends with. Two, because Shaker is such a big name, I was invited to participate in a business development program. That process was super good for me because I got to see how to balance professional and personal and how to set goals for myself to move forward. That changed my career forever because if you’re making it, you ultimately choose how fulfilling your job will be. The more you set goals and work on improving the business, you have a reason to go to work every day. 

How do you distinguish Unfiltered Hospitality from other consulting companies?

GJ: We  are set on changing the conversation, not just being paid to fix a problem and have that same problem pop up in six months. The first part of education asks how we can invest in management to where the ownership and the business get a better product but the managers themselves can have a life and see a sustainable version of a long-term career in hospitality. That’s what is exciting to us. We are still figuring out day by day to make that a reality. As Ben said, it has kind of taken its shape when we do more traditional consulting because we spend all of this time figuring out how to help people develop systems to keep things moving forward. Now, when we do consult, we approach it in a different way. We develop the team and the management to embrace the consulting and take it a step further. 

BP: It’s not something that lasts three to six months. It lasts three to six years. Not to say that the cocktail menu should last three to six years, but making sure that [management and hospitality professionals] feel empowered enough to create their own next menu. Everything that we do is with the idea and intention of making the hospitality experience better. Everything on our website is better _____ because that is the intention behind our company. We know that there is a better way. We know that we can help people get there by doing some of the work ourselves which is essentially what we are doing with consulting but then also helping them figure out their own path. We always use the term “coaching” in a lot of our materials because you have to do the work. 

Why the emphasis on education?

BP: I was very fortunate with my upbringing. I went to good schools. I was able to go to college and graduate school. I received a ton of education. Before working in hospitality, I worked in investment banking. I was in Mergers and Acquisitions Advisory for a long time. To get to that point requires training and education. When I started in hospitality in 2009, I got the standard bar back training. I didn’t get anything about what the company is about or what my role plays in the grand scheme of things. It was basically like ‘these are the tasks that you have to accomplish.’ As I progressed through the industry, I noticed that that never really changed. Even when I had experience working in smaller organizations and large hotel groups–––the training is all the same. With my experience of having so much education going into the finance industry, I was like maybe if there were better education and better training in the hospitality industry, the whole industry could get better. People could have a better experience, not 1 out of 10 times, but 5 out of 10 times which would be an incredible improvement. The lack of education was a systemic issue that we could work toward solving.  

What inspires you to create (Bar design, menus, etc.)?

GJ: Connect with people. What we try to do when we are making a menu for someone, or if we are teaching someone else to make a menu, is to understand the concept. There’s the What, Why, and How. The Why is that beautiful thing that connects with people. It is why you’re doing it in the first place. If you can make your offering near that, or best accentuate that, or tell that story…that’s what really connects with people. Shaker is such a strong brand because they get that. The Why is the same and the four properties could not be more different. There’s an outdoor bar in Miami with a garden. In Chicago, it’s indoors in a basement. But they all have the mission statement: create an extraordinary experience that connects on a personal level. Go higher with the details but make sure it connects with people personally.   

In addition to Consulting, what other services does your company provide that you would like to highlight and promote?

BP: We are very excited about the human development of hospitality professionals. We also offer Brand Strategy for companies and suppliers that are trying to launch a market. Gui and I have both been buyers for six-plus years. We have been approached by thousands of brands over the years. We have found that experience to be lackluster. We wanted to find a better way to improve a product launch. We’ll help with anything from product launches to how to enter the market in a more effective way and how to talk to buyers. We apply the four pillars to just about everything that we do. It works in Consulting. It works in Education and Coaching. It works in Brand Strategy. 

To follow Gui, Ben, and Unfiltered Hospitality’s journey or sign up for their services:

Website: https://www.unfilteredhospo.com

Instagram: @guibme, @benpottsbenpotts, and @unfilteredhospo



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