A San Antonio native, Gen Longoria moved to Milwaukee in 2001 and earned her degree in culinary arts from The Art Institute of Wisconsin. She has served as general manager and beverage director of Distil as well as a curator of bar programs for the SURG Restaurant Group. She now works at the newly opened Kimpton Journeyman Hotel, so we wanted to check in with her and see how things are going.
When did you begin your bartending career?
Oh man…. It all started when I was fresh out of high school, I worked in various downtown high volume bars and night clubs. At the time I was looking for a job that gave me flexibility to be at home with a young daughter. What started as a way to make ends meet, turned into finding my niche in the world. I quickly fell in love with the industry of food and beverage and cocktails in general. I then pursued higher education as a culinary major. I applied many of the techniques I gained to creating cocktails.
What is your favorite bar right now? And why?
Everyone wants to feel at home. Home is the Tin Widow in Walker’s Point. I love this place for it’s welcoming atmosphere, being surrounded by gin, and a sea of familiar faces.
Where can we find your drinks?
I oversee the two beverage programs at the Kimpton Journeyman Hotel. Tre Rivali is a concept driven restaurant inspired by the Mediterranean. On this menu you’ll find sherrys, amari, and Spanish gin and tonics. I source a lot of my inspiration in Chef Heather Terhune’s ah-mazing menu. Also, nine floors above the 3rd ward, The Outsider, this indoor/outdoor lounge celebrates to Milwaukee’s robust drinking culture. Focusing on the utilization of local spirits, beer and other ingredients. It really is a special thing to showcase Milwaukee’s growth and neighborhood pride to our guests that travel from around the world or even from short distances.
What album are you listening to at the moment?
Frank Ocean’s Blonde, it’s been on repeat for days…
What is one piece of advice you have for home cocktail enthusiasts?
Use fresh ingredients, take the time to press citrus juice before making cocktails.
What drink do you want on your bed stand when you wake up?
Fresh cup o’ coffee, then another coffee.
If you didn’t bartend, what other career path might you have chosen?
What I enjoy most about my job is enlightening, educating and inspiring my team. It’s easy to address large crowds when you’re speaking about things that you’re passionate about. If I wasn’t behind the bar, I would still like to think I’d be in the spirits industry somehow, leading, guiding and helping bar folks old and new.
Thanks for taking the time to talk, is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Pretty please for the love of god, keep your vermouth chilled.
The Man, the Cathedral & the Still
1 1/2 oz Tanqueray Gin
1/2 oz Combier Pamplemousse Rose
3/4 oz Lemongrass Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
2 dashes Bittercube Jamaican #2 Bitters
3/4 oz Mathilde Cassis
Glass: Thin Collins, Crushed Ice
Garnish: blackberry and fire stick
Combine all ingredients except Cassis to cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake. Pour Cassis to bottom of the Collin glass, fill half way with crushed ice. Strain cocktail into glass, top with crushed ice. Garnish and enjoy!