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CHRISTIAN DELPECH, originally from Buenos Aires, is a true superstar and one of the most innovative and dynamic flair bartending champions in Miami. Winning more than 19 world championships and over 50 first-places in international competitions in more than 40 countries around the world, he’s a living legend, known for his highly original, dexterous showmanship and influential impact upon a new generation of up-and-coming bartenders. We are proud to offer this exclusive interview as part of our National Bartender Day celebration. 

Christian is currently teaching flair technique through online platforms, workshops and special events.  You can also watch him work his magic behind the bar at Spanglish and Sweet liberty. 

 

When did your passion for bartending start? 

A friend of mine introduced me to bartending when I was 17 years old and working in a pub.  I didn’t even drink alcohol at the time and didn’t know how to make any cocktails.  I was just pouring mixed drinks back then.  I wanted to learn more so I enrolled in a bartending school and that’s when I started to fall in love with bartending.
 

How did you come across flair bartending?

When I was working at my first job, I saw the movie “Cocktail” and I fell for flair bartending instantly. 

Did you come up with these tricks on your own or study other people?

When I started flair bartending, it wasn’t popular in Argentina.  In fact, I didn’t know anybody that did it at that time.  So I learned all the moves from the movie “Cocktail.”  Then I found out, years later, about flair competitions in the US, so I got some videos (VHS at the time) from the world championships and immediately started to practice new techniques from the video and came up with my own moves and style.  I learned tricks related to juggling, contact, dancing, martial arts, and magic sleight-of-hand.  After becoming a pro and world champion, I continued to improve on my own tricks and introduce more ideas.
 
WhatsApp Image 2020 12 04 at 2.47.48 PMWhat has been the most memorable experience?
I’ve competed, judged, and performed in over 40 countries, so it’s very hard to name a single one, but probably the one that made me a world champion for the first time: the Pro Division, Legends of Bartending in Las Vegas in 2001. That’s a great memory!
 

What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

That I was a magician once. I worked doing magic in Ibiza going from table to table. I learned magic from the best magicians in Spain.
 
 

What’s your favorite flair bartending competition and why?

It no longer exists but my favorite was Legends of Bartending in Las Vegas because it was the most technical flair bartending competition ever.  There were four different rounds: Pour Test (accuracy), Speed, Working Flair, and Exhibition Flair.  The one who scored the highest in all combined was crowned World Champion.  The competition was invitation-only, with champions from all over the world.  You really had to train for this one, in all the different aspects.  Also, it was in Las Vegas! 
 

In your opinion, what makes a good bartender?

A good bartender maintains an ideal balance between hospitality/customer service, knowledge, technique, and speed (when needed) while also having the ability to empathize with the guest.
 

What can you tell us about your new phase as an online educator? How did you initially get involved?WhatsApp Image 2020 12 04 at 2.47.49 PM 1

Well, I’ve been training bartenders for two decades, but only recently on social media.  I love to teach people who have a strong desire to learn and if someone goes to your page, YouTube channel, or buys your training videos, it’s because they’re genuinely interested in learning from you.  That is an inspirational fuel for teaching.
 

What is your advice to novice bartenders wanting to learn flair bartending?

It all depends on what your goal is.  For instance, if you want to learn working flair (to me, that’s the most useful ability) to add skills to your bartending job, my advice is to start with the basic moves, make them very solid and learn moves that you’re going to be able to use/perform in that environment specifically.
If you’d like to become a competitor, then you would have to step it up a notch and train hours a day to learn faster, although the concept is the same, solid base and then train smart.  Often people want to know how long it takes to learn flair and I always answer with another question: how bad do you want it?
 

Where do you see yourself next?

I’d like to continue in education, training for sure, but at one point I’d like to explore the other side of the bar, which is brand ambassadorship.  If it’s related to education, all the better.
 

Where can we follow your journey?

 

CHRISTIAN DELPECH WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP HISTORY 

1st place 2000 Quest for the best Rookie division Orlando – USA

1st place individual 2001 Legends of bartending 3 Las Vegas – USA

1st place individual 2001 Grand Cayman Masters 1 Cayman Islands

1st place tandem 2001 Grand Cayman Masters 1 Cayman Islands

2nd place 2001 Quest for the best – Pro division Orlando – USA

1st place 2001 Road House Grand Final London England

1st place individual 2002 Legends of bartending 4 Las Vegas – USA

1st place Tandem 2002 Legends of bartending 4 Las Vegas – USA

3rd place 2002 WBC – Pro division Orlando – USA

1st place 2002 Grand Cayman Masters 2 Cayman Islands

3rd place 2002 Road House Grand Final London – England

1st place 2003 Legends of Bartending 5 Las Vegas – USA

1st place 2003 WFBC – Pro Division Orlando – USA

1st place overall individual 2003 Triple Challenge Panama City – USA

1st place tandem 2003 Triple Challenge Panama City – USA

1st place 2003 Road House Grand Final London – England

1st place 2004 Legends of bartending 6 Las Vegas – USA

2nd place tandem 2004 King of The Ring 1 Las Vegas – USA

1st place 2004 Quest for the Best – Pro division Orlando – USA

2nd place 2004 IBA Finals Las Vegas – USA

1st place 2004 Road House Grand Final London – England

2nd place 2005 King of the Ring 2 Las Vegas – USA

2nd place 2005 IBA Helsinki Finland

1st Place 2006 King of the Ring 3 (aka-UFBC) Las Vegas – USA

3rd Place 2006 Road House Grand Finals London – UK

1st place 2007 UFBC 2 (a.k.a. King Of The Ring 4) Las Vegas – USA

1st place 2007 Skyy Global Challenge Grand Finals Montecarlo – Monaco

6th place 2007 Bacardi Pro Flair Moscow – Russia

2nd place 2007 Quest for the Best Orlando – Florida – USA

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Gardenia Santos started her passion for Yoga and Bartending at the same time. When she moved to Miami, the Bar Scene gave her an opportunity to grow but also took more of her time.  When COVID-19 demanded to close the Bars, she felt the need of supporting the industry with her Yoga Classes. Today, she’s running weekly Yoga Events and Private classes.  

When did you start your bartending career?

I started about ten years ago in Fort Hood, Texas. When I first started, it was more because of the money. But then I ended up falling in love with the concept of serving others. I began to understand more about the industry. I decided to invest more of my time into it create my own cocktails, and learn more about different types of spirits. 

How did your journey as a Yoga instructor begin?

I was married to a Sergeant First Class. He was always working and being deployed. I started filling up my time by taking yoga classes and wanted to understand more about what was going on with my body and all its changes. I took the 200TT AT Breath and Body Yoga in Austin, Tx. After that training, I knew my life had changed in so many aspects. For me, knowledge is power. I took as many certifications as I could like 300TT at wanderlust, SUP yoga, and many more. During all the training, I was still bartending (to be able to pay for them) I was bartending, teaching yoga, and studying. Love and gratitude have been real for both worlds. 

Gardenia 9How do these passions inform one another?

I moved to Miami after a very difficult divorce. I moved here by myself. I did not know anyone. I just came with hopes and dreams and lots of faith. Every job I applied to as a bartender called me back, but I decided to take the job with the Falsettos Companie Ariete Hospitality Group. It was supposed to be part-time, but that didn’t happen. Bartending in Miami is a whole other level. I had to keep up with the industry. The next thing I know, I was already the General Manager of one of the most popular Craft cocktail bars in South Beach, The Scapegoat.  At The Scapegoat, I leveled up my skills with training and certifications such as BarSmart. BarSmart is where I met so many wonderful and very talented people who supported me and who still support me here in Miami. I didn’t have time to teach yoga. Then Covid-19 happened and all I could think about is how can I now give back to all these people who have been supporting me here in Miami?  Yoga was the answer. I started giving live classes online for free on my Instagram. I was also teaching free classes on Zoom. I wanted people to feel supported and loved, even though there were so much negativity and uncertain things going on. I wanted them to have a positive outlook, something to help them escape. Then a beautiful friend of mine, Juliana Arango from Bacardi USA, called me asking to do a yoga session at the beach. We had a conversation about it. Our first Yoga class was just for friends but it felt so good. We wanted to share with others.  20 people signed up for the next class. That’s when Yoga Happy Hour, Yoga Brunch, and all the other events started coming into place.

What kind of Yoga classes do you offer and who are they targeted to?

I offer all types of Yoga classes: Yoga for beginners, Chair Yoga, PTSD Yoga, Aqua Yoga, SUP Yoga, Guided Meditation, and many more. These classes are all focused on your breath; We call it Vinyasa Flow. It is a movement with consciousness, one breath one movement. The target audience is everyone who is looking for a better understanding of their body and who wants to have a better connection with their inner self.

What can we expect from your classes? Gardenia 5

I always start all my classes with intention. Intentions set us up for a better connection with the present moment. I finish the flow with a little guided meditation. We are offering positive energy, uniting us to what exists within the NOW, the present. At our events, we offer all that I just mention plus it’s a different way to connect. Rather than sitting at the bar and having a cocktail, you can enjoy one hour of yoga. You can also gather with friends, connect with yourself and others, and still enjoy a nice low abv cocktail afterward. In each class, I like to leave people feeling better than when they walked in, so I think that’s what stands out with my yoga class or events.

How has COVID-19 affected you personally and professionally?

Covid-19 has helped me come back to my purpose and align me with what matters which is helping people believe in themselves.

Where do you see yourself next?

I see myself in my own space teaching and helping people with yoga. I see myself teaching at my own yoga retreats and creating more events with other people that have the same mentality to help and outgrow people’s fears. I want to spread more love and light into our community because right now, we need to unite the good ones to make sure the negativity has no more room to grow. 

Where can we find your next classes?

You can always find all my classes and events at my IG @yogardenia. 

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Norbert Cruz - Blazin Visualz Photography

Norbert Cruz is a bartender and photographer who has always been fond of art. He did not always know what medium of art he would pursue, but he was confident that art would be a significant part of his life. When he became a photographer, Cruz discovered a liveable outlet for his passion. Finding himself inspired by the portfolios of other photographers, Cruz bought a camera and began using his talents to capture not only the people in front of him but also the feelings that motivate them.   

How did you start your photography journey as Blazin Visualz?

I started my photography career by helping my homegirl. She was a yoga instructor and I started practicing my photography at her studio. I took photos for her and then I met Anthony Nader who is a photographer and the owner of 52Chefs. I ended up working with him in a bar and he took me under his wing. He guided me and I got into the cocktail photography business. I’m into all sides of photography, but mainly the food and cocktail, portraits, etc.

Who/what inspired you?

Looking at other people’s photography inspired me but it’s not just one specific type of photography. I wish I knew their name but even during the Black Lives Matter protests, there was a very powerful image that spoke to me. It’s seeing things like that. A still image can project a lot of feelings. I used to just look at a picture and think it’s just a picture, but now I look at it and I’m looking at the details. I’m looking at the different things that create the composition of it. I look at it very differently. When I find something that sparks my attention, it never gets dull to me. It always stays fresh. 

How would you compare photography and bartending?

Bartending has helped me a lot with photography. I’m able to break the ice with people a lot easier. I like to meet different people and learn about them. Either they teach me something new or I teach them something new. On the bartending side, bartending has helped me a lot with making people feel comfortable when I take pictures. If someone has never done a photo, I like to teach them new things. I also like candid moments so I am not someone who stages shoots. I am not staging you to be perfect––I like natural movements. 

How do you capture a candid photo? What’s your process like?

Another thing that’s helped me when I do bartender shoots is that I’ve bartended myself. I look at the bartender that I am shooting and I can anticipate their next move so I can pretty much capture the perfect moment as opposed to someone that probably doesn’t bartend. Someone else might take continuous shots trying to catch the perfect moment but I can pretty much snap it right at the perfect moment. 

What’s your dream event to shoot? What is your ultimate goal as a photographer? 

I have creative ideas come to me but I would not say that I have a dream event to shoot right now. I do want to take a road trip and shoot a lot of landscape and nature photography. 

My goal is to give people the chance to shine. People who don’t normally get the chance to shine.  Or even local spots, like when I do food and cocktails. I like to shoot local spots that haven’t gotten that much attention or new spots that need help from the community. I want to give them the chance to shine and to make it easier to have a photographer help out businesses. I’m getting into the scene now and I’ve heard that a lot of photographers are pretentious and hard to work with. I am very humble and down to earth. I want to be someone that is easy to work with. I want to make time for people and give them a quality product. 

Screen Shot 2020 08 05 at 11.46.14 PM
Images by Blazin Visualz

How has COVID-19 affected you personally and professionally?

As far as being a bartender, I lost my job during the lockdown. I had to depend on unemployment which was very unreliable. That was the worst part for me. I’m someone who always likes to try to take the positive out of the negative so it didn’t really affect me so much negatively. As soon as I found out where we were locking down, I mentally prepared myself and told myself to be ready to stay busy and have a schedule for myself.  I’m a workaholic. I usually like to have like five days bartending because if I have too much free time, I tend to either procrastinate on things or go out and just start spending money. The lockdown actually mentally helped me keep myself scheduled with the productive things. Honestly, right before the whole lockdown and everything, I was in the process of getting my editing together. I wouldn’t say that I was as good as I am now. Those few months gave me time to practice my editing and get it right. I did a lot of editing and Anthony Nader gave me his praise so that told me that I was going in the right direction. His praise meant a lot to me. I used this time productively. I’m taking off with my photography more so my experience has been positive. 

What other services do you offer? 

I am very open with my photography. I do portraits. I do yoga photography. I do event photography. I am not just based on one main thing. I enjoy doing food and cocktails and portraits. I like being creative and playing with light, colors, etc. 

**Cruz also currently shoots for 2oz Magazine and is rapidly building an extensive portfolio.

To contact Norbert or follow his journey:

Instagram: @blazinvisualz

Website: www. blazinvisualz.com

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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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Hailing from Argentina, Juan Sosa has been a celebrated Cantinero for 30 years—20 of which were spent as head bartender of the iconic Mango’s on Ocean Drive. His crowd-pleasing concoctions and excellent customer service have earned him a spot as a Finalist in Bacardi’s Legacy Cocktail Competition 2020, representing Miami, with his brainchild: The Opportunity.
“The Opportunity cocktail is an expression of Cuban culture and its influence on Miami. When I visited El Floridita on my last trip to Cuba, I was inspired by the 200-year-old drink, Daiquiri. I then came up with an idea for reflecting this hybrid atmosphere and added a
tropical twist, using pineapple and sage.”
Sosa also favors pineapple as a symbol of hospitality, with the goal of promoting excellent customer service every time his drink is served.

He chose to donate $1 of every drink sold to The Lighthouse Central Florida Foundation for the Blind and Visually Impaired. The cause is very dear to his heart since his son has overcome congenital visual impairment. “The Opportunity is a reminder to myself that there are endless opportunities for growth, transformation, and productivity if one has the will to recognize it,” says Sosa, when asked about how he came up with the name. 

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Juan Sosa - Miami's star mixologist representing Florida at the Bacardi Legacy Cocktail Finals 156

Juan will be competing among the world’s leading bartenders for the title of Bacardi Legacy Champion on January 26th in Puerto Rico.
You can support him by following @Theopportunity20 on Instagram. The competition is open to the public. For more information, visit 
https://legacy.bacardi.com/us/en/

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Santiago Vásquez Cuberos - The Antimixologist

Santiago Vásquez Cuberos is a true “Apasionado” for bartending. Originally from Colombia, his approach is unpretentious and focused on delivering excellent customer service by creating a full drinking experience for his clientele. As the creator of the Antimixologist brand, Santiago designs cocktail menus, develops new recipes and it’s also an instructor at Elite Bartending School. He also sells his cool merchandise online.

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Santiago Vásquez Cuberos - The Antimixologist 160

What do you love the most about being a bartender?

SVC: What I love the most is the possibility of delivering an experience to my guests, It’s my pleasure to see them enjoy my creations.

How did the Antimixologist start?

SVC: It started as a rebellious way against places looking for a stereotype such a hipster’s, pretentious kids calling themself Mixologists, and not letting me have my own style. They forget we own our profession to the guests and the happiness we bring them with a Top service experience. That’s how the Antimixologist was born.

How do you get inspired to create drinks?

SVC: By recreating sensations. I use my joyful memories and go back to those happy moments such as my mother’s cooking or a Special Trip, I try to use similar flavors or senses as inspiration to create drinks that will take you to a special moment in your memories.

What would you say is your best Cocktail made so far?

SVC: To create a new cocktail that you can be satisfied can be very challenging, and time-consuming. You need to think out of the box. I like to make some classics with a twist like the Pineapple Gin Fizz. I’ve some other secret recipes that I’m saving for my own bar.

We heard about your eco-friendly approach in your bar, tell us what are you currently doing?

SVC: I’m currently adding different products like agave and pasta straws, always looking for different eco-friendly options for the to-go containers, bags, and utensils. Personally, I’m a big supporter of non-profits like Green Peace, Oceana and Ecosia, which I promote on my social media. Not only that is about being healthy as well, at the bar we have sugar cane sodas and fresh-made detox juices. You can enjoy our very own Bloody Mary (Red or Green) made out of fresh vegetables.

Where do you go for a drink?

SVC: I love to visit my friends on their amazing bars like Casa Florida, Le Sirenuse, Swizzle Rum Bar and last but not least, my kids (my team) at the Wynwood Diner & Cocktails.

What’s the Antimixologist is doing next?

SVC: A book. I have this idea in mind for a while now. I’m planning to start this year and it will include some of the best bartenders I’ve met and their cocktails, also some classics drinks, technical information, and some personal history.

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Pineapple Gin Fizz by Antimixologist
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