Spirits became my first true love in the restaurant industry. Food, of course, was a gateway as was the flexible schedule and the lucrative paychecks, but it was an interest in the backbar of a restaurant that I worked in that I chose a permanent career change. I studied the producers and the places they were historically based in. There was the history, the tasting notes, and before I knew it, I was memorizing cocktail recipes and experimenting with my own.
Research and development along with busy services proceeded to be my life for the next four years and dialing in balance was my constant aim – whether it be between our four senses of taste in a cocktail or with multi-tasking behind a busy bar while still remaining hospitable. Part of that was also making sure I could talk intelligently about the wines every bar kept as a menu option. Luckily for me, I had the pleasure of working with some fascinating and progressive wine lists that made my studies became interesting. A subtle interest in wine as a bartender took a turn that put me in the unique position of looking down the path of becoming a sommelier.
I became a beverage director and a wine buyer and began pursuing the rigorous exams for the Court of Master Sommeliers working myself up to a seat at the Advanced level test. I moved to Houston to focus solely on wine and found that although I was new to this side of beverage, I wasn’t at a complete disadvantage – thanks to everything I learned to apply from being a bartender.
The scenes are different and the communities run in different circles. There’s a stereotype between the bar people and the wine people but the running thread that brings these two together only benefits ourselves as students and educators, elevates our product, and changes our part in the larger industry for the better.