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.

Meet Dustin Nguyen


Dustin Nguyen started working with Bittercube a couple of years ago and started full time at the end of April. We sat down with him to ask a few pressing questions.

Where were you born/where did you spend your childhood?
I was born in the ice cold mountains of Canada where I was taught how to ice skate, fly fish, and defend myself from Polar Bears. I eventually moved down to Minnesota where I spent most of my time playing video games or drawing cartoons in my mother’s basement.

How long have you lived in Minneapolis?
For about three years now.

When did you first meet Nick & Ira or find out about Bittercube?
Internet stalking. And then real life stalking. As someone who was fascinated by the art and culture of the cocktail, I wanted to immerse and surround myself with people who were far better than I. I pooled hours into researching various bars around the city and the people who led them. Naturally, that let me to Bittercube and Eat Street Social. I was fortunate enough to land a wait assist position at Eat Street and met Nick and Ira for the first time after a week of breaking down tables. Their attention to detail and passion to the craft was incredible and I immediately knew I wanted to be part of their family.

What do you like to do when you’re not working?
Becoming MLG in Blizzard’s, “Overwatch“. Listening to Drake and calling all my ex-girlfriends.

Or drawing. My favorite medium to work with is charcoal, I love the spontaneity of it and how fluid soft lines can quickly become brash streaks. It’s loud and quiet all at the same time.

What’s your superhero power?
Knowing all 23 ingredients of Dr. Pepper.

What would you like to have as your last meal, complete with drink pairing?
My grandmother’s Spicy Beef Satay soup with a cheap, Kokanee beer. Her soup is a magical medley of tender beef, rice noodles and a spicy broth composed of peanut sauce and Thai chili peppers. It’s cleansing and always reminds me of my time spent working in my grandparent’s restaurant as a child.

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.