Updated: May 23
How many years have you been in the business? Tell us briefly about your background and your current position today.
16 years. I started working in the restaurant industry when I was 18, as a food runner at Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery. I spent 10 years in New York, working at some incredible bars and restaurants, and then moved to LA in 2015, ultimately managing Harvard & Stone until 2019. I currently am the founder and CEO of LiveWire, a ready-to-drink craft cocktail company. We feature prominent bartenders on our roster and share proceeds with them off of their cocktails.
Did you have a particular “aha!” moment that propelled you into the beverage industry?
Working at Bouchon really opened up my world to wine. Paul Roberts, their Wine Director at the time, made tasting, talking about, and selling wine so accessible. He broke it down in a way that was easy to understand, and 18-year-old me just ran with it.
What is the most rewarding part of what you do?
For the first time, seeing the cocktails of my peers in the wild, being enjoyed by people we've never met, is truly a trip.
What do you do to create wellness balance in your life? Any particular activity, practices, etc that are meaningful to you?
You can catch me behind any mic that'll take me.
What changes do you hope to see in the beverage industry in the next five years?
I hope that the liquor industry starts to take care of its creators and compensate them in evergreen, meaningful ways. The bartenders are the brand-builders, and it's beneficial for all to bring them into the fold.
What does equality in the beverage industry look like to you?
I think giving access and opportunities to people of all historically marginalized groups is important. I think the @15percentpledge is a great starting place for retail and hospitality, both in terms of hiring and selecting what products to stock.
How do you feel you’re contributing to creating a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive beverage industry?
Of our roster of bartenders who have released drinks, 33% are BIPOC, 33% are LGBTQ+, 33% are Jewish, and 66% are white. We aim to implement DEI by eschewing performative social media in favor of hiring and talent scouting practices.
What advice would you give to someone starting their career in the same sector of the beverage industry as you?
Work hard, drink cocktails at bars and from bartenders that you admire, so that you can broaden and refine your palate, get good at wine, and when you get a management position, do as much learning about management as possible. The first one is always a doozy.
Name some people who inspire you in the beverage industry and please explain why.
Fawn Weaver, Kristen Olszewsi, and Lena Garrett. Their hard-work and intelligence is awe-inspiring, and their brands set a new standard.