Featured Bartender: Shannon McSwain

Shannon_McSwainWhen did you begin your bartending career?

I began bartending shortly after moving to New Orleans. I had been working in bars for years in every other front of the house position, but had been patiently awaiting an opportunity to jump behind the stick. Finally I had my chance at a bar in the French Quarter where staff worked as both bartenders, servers, hosts, and food runners simultaneously. It was a challenge I was excited to face and I took to it quickly.

What is your favorite bar right now? And why?

My favorite bar at the moment–and possibly forever–is Maison Artemesia in Roma Norte, Mexico City. I had the opportunity to visit Mexico City when I won a trip to Tales on Tour 2016, and ever since I’ve wanted to return just to visit this bar. It’s a dark and candlelit gem with an intricate menu featuring something for every palate. The atmosphere had me entranced when I entered the bar, but the service was what truly won my heart. They welcomed us as though we were old friends and we belonged there. It was an unforgettable experience.

Where can we find your drinks?

I just opened a cocktail catering company called Pour Toi in New Orleans with Bar Tonique bartender Jesi Goodwin. We provide cocktail bar services for parties, weddings, events of any kind, really. You can find my drinks on our custom menus! 

What album are you listening to at the moment?

Lately I’ve really been back and forth between listening to Kendrick Lamar’s “untitled unmastered” album and “Black Messiah” by D’Angelo and the Vanguard, which is quite possibly my favorite vinyl record I’ve ever heard.

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?

My advice to home cocktail enthusiasts is always a two parter. First, watch your bartender and ask them questions. It’s our duty as hosts to share our knowledge with you as our bar guest, whether that means recommending literature or sharing a recipe or technique. Second, get weird with it! Be fearless when experimenting with the information you’ve gained from asking those questions.

What drink do you want on your bed stand when you wake up?
I’m a big fan of ice cold club soda on a summer morning. It’s both hydrating and refreshing! And in the cold weather I’m always a big fan of a piping hot toddy, nice and stiff, with plenty of bitters.

If you didn’t bar tend, what other career path might you have chosen?

I would’ve been a dancer. I danced for years until I was injured and had to make a career change, which is how I made my way into bartending. No regrets, I’m happy as a clam working in this industry, but dancing was my first love and will always be dear to my heart!TheBoliwood

Here’s a tasty recipe to try!
The Boliwood
1/2 oz Lemon Juice
3/4 oz Garam Masala Syrup*
2 oz Sazerac Rye
1/4 oz Dry Orange Curaçao
8 drops Bittercube Bolivar Bitters
Top: 2 oz Club Soda
Glass: Collins
Garnish: Lemon twist
Shake ingredients and pour into a Collins glass, top with Club Soda and fresh ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.
*Garam Masala Syrup
    3 oz sugar
    3 oz water
    1 tbsp Garam Masala seasoning
    Heat to combine ingredients, and strain. Makes enough syrup for about 5 cocktails.

Featured Bartender: John Papp

 John PappWhen did you begin your bartending career?

I started bartending at the first service industry place I ever worked almost 15 years ago. I started out at Maggiano’s  Little Italy at Mayfair Mall as a food runner and loved it. I had never worked at a place that my coworkers would want to go out and get drinks together after every shift before. It was addicting! It didn’t take me long to move my way up to bartending but initially I was a banquet bartender which was actually pretty easy and a lot of fun! I remember we had a Pharmaceutical company buy the space so they could have one of their doc’s teach other doc’s about a new drug or something. This particular event had a really big budget and when I explained the bill they asked me if we could all take shots of Louis XIII, after clearing it with my boss and adjusting the tab, we all took our shots and I asked why they chose Louis, they replied “to spend money” and I was confused why anyone would buy a shot for so much when they could get a lot more shots for less. It literally baffled me! I was so young!

What is your favorite bar right now? And why?

The Tin Widow on 2nd St. in the beautiful Walker’s Point neighborhood! The Tin Widow is where bartenders go to get a decent cocktail. All of their bartenders are amazing at the classics and can come up with a cocktail of their own on the spot! They also have a great Whiskey, Gin, and Vermouth selection that is always growing. I think last I heard they had over 200 Gins. Did I mention how amazing their bartenders are? I also dig Sabbatic across the street for a beer and a shot after work!

Where can we find your drinks?

You can find my drinks at The Iron Horse Hotel. I have so much fun creating drinks here, and so does the rest of the bar staff, come and visit us!

What album are you listening to at the moment?

I’ve been Listening to The Heavy “The House That Dirt Built” and everything The Black Keys touch! Good music!

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?

Most people think that buying a bottle of Whiskey, a bottle of Vodka, and other main spirits is how to start a home bar…. In my opinion, start with a bottle of vermouth, a bottle of bitters, a bottle of triple sec or orange liquor, cause those are the things that build a bar and hang around, and you can use them through multiple bottles of spirits to make cocktails. Also when it comes to recipes, use them as a guideline or starting point and tweak or adjust the drink to your liking!

What drink do you want on your bed stand when you wake up?

Generally I like to wake up to a glass of water. But there has been an occasion where when I know I have the next day off Drunk me will leave a good morning shot of bourbon for myself when I wake up! When that has happened I always think, “Wow, drunk me is so thoughtful”!

If you didn’t bar tend, what other career path might you have chosen?

I actually went to school for Graphic Design & Computer Animation so I guess I could fall back on that, the only problem is I could never work sitting in front of a computer. Aside from that I think I will always work with alcohol because it is so diverse and interesting to work with.

Want to share a recipe with our readers?

My current favorite Manhattan build is…

2 oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey

1 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino

1 Dropper Bittercube Cherry Bark Vanilla Bitters

1 Dash Angostura Bitters

Garnish: Orange peel

Instructions: Combine ingredients in mixing glass with ice until softened. Strain into rocks glass. Express orange peel over the cocktail and insert the peel into glass and enjoy.

Featured Bartender: Nic Nye

NicNyeWhen did you start your bartending career?

I started bartending when I was in my early twenties in Milwaukee. My career started a few years later when I realized how much I loved it and that I could build a career from it.

What is your favorite bar right now? And why?

I’m really digging on Interurban and The Rambler on N Mississippi in Portland. They both have a great vibe and great drinks.

Where can we find your drinks?

I’m currently rockin’ the copper at The KnockBack bar in Portland, OR. We’ve got a great cocktail menu that changes frequently and no shortage of Bittercube bitters in the house.

What album are you listening to at the moment?

Make the Road by Walking

By: The Menahan Street Band

What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts? 

Taste everything. EVERYTHING!!! Taste things at different times in your life, from different places, with different people. Smell things. Learn the individual notes so it becomes easy to combine them into a great drink.

What drink do you want on your bed stand when you wake up?

Ice cold lemon lime Gatorade or water.

If you didn’t bar tend, what other career path might you have chosen?

I probably would have ended up in sales or marketing. I’ve just been avoiding the suit and tie world as long as I can.

Thanks for taking the time to talk, is there anything else you would like to tell us?

It’s time to get some boots on the ground out here for Bittercube. Everybody loves the juice and I think it’s poised to blow up.

Please share a favorite recipe that uses a Bittercube product.

Drinkin’ Wisconsibly

1 oz Kinnickinnic Whiskey
1 oz Korbel Brandy
.25oz Demerara syrup (2:1)
2 dashes Blackstrap bitters
1 dash Cherry Bark Vanilla
1 dash Bolivar bitters
Combine all ingredients in a mixing vessel and stir until chilled.
Serve in an old fashioned glass over a large ice cube with a clove studded orange on the rim. Gently burn one clove prior to serving.