Rachel and Lindsey Miller

Sisters Double Down on Business Venture

When bartender Rachel Miller decided to open up a bar supply shop, she knew one thing for certain. She’d get along just fine with her business partner. That’s because Rachel co-founded the shop with her twin sister, Lindsey.

“This is our first time working together, but that being said, we’re super close,” says Rachel. “We have very a similar work ethic, and we have a very similar understanding of how we want things to be. We’re also very honest with each other, so difficult conversations aren’t hard for us to have.”

The pair opened up Kit on Small Business Saturday four years ago in Portage Park, a Chicago neighborhood within walking distance of their respective homes. Kit sells tools and accessories geared to bartending professionals that are “super functional, super durable and super high quality,” says Rachel. “We always ask ourselves, ‘How is this going to work for the person who’s using it?” While their clients are predominately Chicago-based, they’ve field orders from as far away as Alaska. The shop also carries bar-related gift items, mixers, bitters, garnishes and glassware for the home cocktail enthusiast and offers monthly cocktail-making classes.

Kit has a welcoming vibe, with a design more cozy than industrial. Inventory is displayed on painted dining room tables, for instance. Lindsey says, “We wanted the shop to look inviting from the windows, so people passing by would want to walk in and look around.”

The timing for their new venture was serendipitous. Lindsey was ready for a career change at the same time Rachel’s schedule freed up after a few consulting projects wound down. And the opportunity was there. No other store in Chicago sold bar gear and accessories. Rachel says, “That was always surprising and a little frustrating to me, so I said to Lindsey, ‘Why don’t we do this?’” The answer was a fast yes.

The two may share DNA but each brings complementary skill sets to the venture. “We have very different strengths and weaknesses, so in terms of splitting up the tasks, it’s very, very easy,” says Rachel. “Lindsay is way more administratively competent than I am. I’d say 90% of the store is in her wheelhouse in terms of the financials, the administrative tasks and the communication with vendors and clients.” Rachel brings industry expertise and professional connections. She focuses on product curation, runs the cocktail classes and cultivates relationships in the bartending and restaurant community.

The Millers approach the business not just as a retail shop but as a hub in the neighborhood they love. They collaborate with other small businesses, hold events and offer themselves up as a local resource. “Trying to get more small businesses to be viable in this little stretch on the northwest side of town has been really nice,” Rachel says. “People love that we’re here, and we’re happy to be in a neighborhood where people who live here really want small businesses like us to thrive.”

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

“Bartending is a production center. People are enjoying the fact they get to watch you make cocktails, so style and functionality matter. If you pick up a jigger 300 times in a shift, you want to like it, you want to know it’s not going to get dented when you drop it 16 times. With Barfly, everything they make comes in multiple sizes with multiple options and different gauges and weights. You can always find something that suits what you’re trying to do and how you want it to look. Barfly also has brand recognition, so when professional bartenders come into the shop, they already recognize the tools as professional grade, professional quality.”

– Rachel Miller, co-owner of Kit, a bar supply shop in Chicago


Gino Aquino

The Bartender’s Bartender

“When I came to L.A., everybody was acting, so I kind of fell into an acting class at the time,” he recalls. One day, he spotted a long line of hopefuls, assumed it was a casting call and joined the queue. “I needed a job. I was pretty desperate. I didn’t even have a bank account.” Aquino didn’t get a role. But he got a job. It turned out it wasn’t a casting call after all but a new nightclub seeking applicants. That day, Aquino launched his career in the business as a busboy.
 
Today, Aquino tends bar at Etta, a neighborhood restaurant in Culver City where he’s immersed in the world of craft cocktails. “The price of a cocktail these days is the same as the price of a plate of food, so I think it’s nice to take the time and care to make something guests really appreciate, that they think is beautiful and tastes good,” Aquino says. At Etta, he serves an “adventurous clientele” eager to imbibe riffs on the classics, “so it’s almost like playtime for me.”
 
While his current position helped him step up his bartending skills, he credits his hospitality and management skills to his time running a tiny neighborhood bar. “It was very much like ‘Cheers.’ It was the perfect job for me. That’s where I first fell in love with the whole bar culture,” he says. The bar had its regulars, and the regulars had their usuals. “It was a good feeling to see somebody come from across the street and know what they were going to drink. You’d make that drink and by the time they sat down, it was sitting right there waiting for them.”
 
Among the regulars were chefs and bartenders from nearby restaurants who would come after their own places closed down. “Having customers from the service industry come to you is the best compliment you can get,” Aquino says. While the bar didn’t survive the pandemic, Aquino’s pursuit of being the bartender’s bartender continues on.

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

“Having the proper tools is a must to me. There’s nothing more frustrating than not having tools that work. The quality of Barfly tools just makes life easier.”

– Gino Aquino, bartender


Born to Shake

Duo Elevates Cocktailing into an Experience

“I don’t remember what it’s like to be bored,” says Shayne Labis. That’s because the Canadian cocktail company he co-founded with business partner and fiancé Nicole Barron called Born to Shake has more divisions than the National Hockey League.

Labis describes the business, located in Kelowna, British Columbia, as an “experiential beverage company. We have our hands in a multitude of different things pertaining to cocktails.” Born to Shake is a cocktail bar, a mixology classroom, a retail shop and a producer of syrups and bitters, all under one roof.

The business model didn’t start out that way. Born to Shake was conceived as an elevated cocktail catering service intended to bridge the gap between the “beautiful food” served at high end events and beverage service the couple saw as mediocre at best. In the early days of 2020, it looked like their first summer was going to be jam-packed with bookings. Then came the covid lockdown, blowing their plans out of the water. “For us, it wasn’t a pivot, it was a massive change in business,” says Labis.

“We started to panic about what we were going to do to keep the business afloat,” says Barron. “We were already making custom syrups and bitters, so we started bottling them and offering them on our Instagram for DIY cocktails. It took off.” Next came virtual cocktail classes, merging the product side of the business with the service side. “That helped get our product into tons of people’s homes who never would have known who we were. We were shipping our products everywhere,” she says.

Engaging with customers and demystifying the cocktail-making process has helped the pair achieve one milestone after another. There are no pretensions here. “It could be intimidating to begin bartending at home and we wanted to take all of that out and allow people to just have fun at home,” Barron says. It’s easy to be creative with their small-batch products like carrot cake syrup, coffee bitters and rimmers like smoky ancho salt. “Our products are easy to use, and our recipes are easy to execute, but you can use your creativity to make something fun if you want,” she says. “The idea behind our brand is to make cocktailing more approachable for the everyday person.”

In November 2022, the couple opened up their cocktail shop in what’s known as the Brewery District of Kelowna, a summer tourist town some 250 miles east of Vancouver. “It’s really beautiful to see people in Kelowna interacting with us exactly how we always imagined they would.”

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

“The right tools are everything. We went through a plethora of different shakers to see what had good suction, what had the right amount of volume. We just landed on Barfly and we’ve now incorporated the products into every element of our business. We’re a Barfly house.
We’ve been using all types of barware throughout our bartending careers, and when we decided to start selling items, we hand-picked our favorite Barfly products to offer to our customers. We only have Barfly shakers, jiggers, spoons and strainers. They’re the best. We don’t sell anything we don’t stand behind.”

– Shayne Labis, co-owner Born to Shake


David Dickson

Boosting School Spirits

“I make alcohol for a living. You can’t complain about that,” jokes David Dickson, a professor and the head distiller at the Niagara College Teaching Distillery in Ontario, Canada.

Dickson is being humble in his job description. In his role at Niagara College, he’s training future generations in the craft and science of artisan distillation.

According to Dickson, the program is the first of its kind in North America in which a commercial distillery operates in association with a college. The timing was right. Ten years ago, there were only a handful of craft distilleries in the region. By the time the program launched in 2018, the proliferation of distilleries grew ten-fold, creating a demand for qualified recruits in the industry.

Dickson’s classroom is not your average lecture hall. It’s a fully functional distillery with mash tanks, fermentation tanks and stills. The focus is on experiential learning. Students come from all parts of the globe to master the grain-to-glass process. Because it is a post-grad program, these distillers-in-training are over Canada’s legal drinking age of 19 and get to enjoy the botanicals of their labor.

The school’s first small-batch release was called Eau-de-Vie de Fruits. Dickson describes it as an “unaged brandy with a lighter, brighter spirit.” Some of the grapes were grown right on campus. “A lot of things go into your first spirit release. It’s similar to your first actual service in a restaurant. You’ve worked a long time and put a lot of effort into it and now you’ve got something to show for it. It was definitely a good feeling.” Like all releases, it was available exclusively at the campus’ Wine Visitor + Education Centre. All 150 bottles in the run sold out.

Some 100 products are now in the portfolio, produced at the rate of about 10 new spirits and fortified wines a year. Along with classics like rum, gin and vodka, the portfolio also features specialty releases like Smoked Chocolate Old Fashioned and Ambrosia, a honey spirit distilled from campus beehives.

Deciding on a new release is a collaborative process. “Students have great ideas. Sometimes it’s a million-dollar idea,” says Dickson. “I want them to go off on their own and be successful with it. But for class we tend to do interesting spirits that have learning outcomes attached to them. It needs to be feasible, tasty and, ultimately, releasable in the time frame we have.”

And while releases typically sell out, profitability is another matter. Margins are thin to start with and profits, if any, are reinvested back into the program. The distillery, however, is not necessarily designed to be a money-maker. Breaking even is the goal. “Profitability is a hard lesson,” says Dickson. “But inefficiency leads to more learning.”

Dickson’s background was well-suited for the job. With a specialization in biology and a master’s degree in environmental sustainability, he was recruited by Dillion’s, a small batch distillery in Lincoln, Ontario, where Dickson served as the head distiller before helping to launch the distilling program at Niagara College. “I love what I do because it allows me to explore multiple passions simultaneously: science, artistic expression, and teaching. Every day is a new sensory experience. I get to shape the industry in Ontario and abroad and infuse knowledge of the things I care about like environmental issues and safe consumption in the next generation.”

And no one can complain about that.

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

“I’m a guy who geeks out on gear. Barfly has the types of jiggers I like. They have the types of spoons I like. It makes a big difference in the experience of actually making a cocktail. Cheaper sets just don’t give you the same feel. I’d rather have the right piece of equipment for the job. Otherwise, you compensate in some way, and it lessens the experience for me and anyone I’m making cocktailst for.”

– David Dickson, a professor and head distiller at the Niagara College Teaching Distillery in Ontario, Canada


Leandro DiMonriva

The Educated Barfly

For Leandro DiMonriva, co-creator, producer, and host of the YouTube series The Educated Barfly, a negroni video changed everything.

DiMonriva and his business partner Marius Haugan were six months into the run of their cocktail tutorial series, and things were not going well.

“We were getting maybe 100, 150 views,” recalls DiMonriva. “We were spending hundreds of dollars on bottles and syrups and equipment, and we really weren’t getting a lot out of it, so we started to talk about whether we wanted to keep it going.” As a last-ditch effort to save the channel, they had upped their output, posting five videos a week to get YouTube’s algorithms to take notice. Then came the negroni video. “It was a video I didn’t want to release,” DiMonriva says. “I didn’t like the way it came off. I sounded arrogant. It looked horrible. But we were stuck, and we needed one more video to finish the week.”

The video exploded. A hundred or so views soared to the tens of thousands. The algorithm had finally paid attention. And DiMonriva learned an important lesson: “You have to be very persistent. A vast majority fail because they quit. We almost made that mistake.”

Today, The Educated Barfly has more than 350,000 subscribers. Since its launch in 2017, the series has been a training ground for a new generation of home and professional bartenders. Unlike other cocktail tutorials, The Educated Barfly focuses on technique, accuracy and history. If you know the French 75 cocktail emerged around 1915 at Harry’s American Bar in Paris and was named after the French 75-mm field gun, there’s a good chance you learned it from DiMonriva. Followers appreciate his approach that prioritizes quality over personality.
As one fan wrote, “Had to give you a shout-out for a quality video that did not waste any time getting right down to business. Thank you for restricting all monologue to the subject at hand, and not talking about yourself.”

In many ways, DiMonriva’s career path is a familiar one. In 2000 at age 23, he moved from Boston, Mass., to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. He worked as a freelance production assistant and, later, moonlighted behind the bar at night to keep his days free for auditions.

In a plot twist, his part-time job would become his full-time career—and passion.

DiMonriva eventually landed a job as a barback at the L.A. landmark, Cole’s, a historic institution that’s been operating for more than a century. A speakeasy-style lounge in the back of Cole’s called The Varnish was “ground zero for every professional bartender in L.A.,” he says. “I describe it like “Cheers” but with better drinks. I was fortunate that I landed in a place that took cocktails very seriously and took history very seriously. I just happen to be a history buff, so I really hooked into the way that cocktails and history spoke to each other.” He mastered the art of cocktails-making and hospitality under the tutelage of some of the top bartenders of the last 30 years. “Everybody was incredibly passionate. And when you have a passionate group of people that makes for a magical experience.”

His experience at Cole’s was the inspiration behind an idea for a TV series on bartenders. When he couldn’t sell the concept, he and Haugan decided to produce it themselves. “You don’t have to wait for a bunch of gatekeepers to tell you you could do something,” DiMonriva says. “You just go and do it.”

Five years into The Educated Barfly, the team is still rolling out “nerdy cocktail talk” tutorials, spinning trends on their heads and building a vast archive of recipes and resources. “We don’t care about viral videos,” DiMonriva says. “We care about creating a body of original work that will speak for itself over a long period of time.”

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

“It goes without saying that if you don’t have the right tools for the job you won’t get a very result. I’m incredibly particular about my bar tools. I tend to gravitate to specific things, like having a properly weighted shaking tin set. Shaking is a violent activity. Having an internal weight is important. It gives your shaking more heft. Barfly came out with the Superfly shaker. The internal weight is really helpful. It doesn’t pop off, and it’s really elegant looking. Tools are also about the way your job looks because 90% of the job is hospitality. When you’re creating a cocktail, you’re putting on a little bit of a show so everything should be elegant and beautiful. Barfly has done a very good job of curating tools that have that elegant look.”

– Leandro DiMonriva, The Educated Barfly


Amanda Blair

A Bartender Comes in From the Cold

For Amanda Blair, the transition from Wisconsin to Florida was more than a change in climate from snow days to beach days. It was a lifestyle change from a beer to a craft cocktail culture.

Blair, originally from Kenosha, a city on the shore of Lake Michigan, relocated to South Florida seven years ago, spring-boarding the fast-food restaurant experience she acquired as a teenager into a career in hospitality. “I wanted to get out of the cold and try something new,” she recalls.

Today, the 28-year-old manages and tends bar at Tacocraft Taqueria & Tequila in the Fort Lauderdale neighborhood of Victoria Park. Tacocraft specializes in modern Mexican cuisine and operates a collection of restaurants in the South Florida region. “I love the fast pace of bartending and the chance to create cocktails that are personalized to each guest,” she says.

Blair gained her first experience behind the bar at the Westin on Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort at the property’s pool deck rum bar, Waves Bar & Grill. Her eventual move to Tacocraft “really expanded my knowledge of tequila and craft cocktails,” she says. “In the beginning, it was a lot of trial and error figuring out the right proportions, techniques and the mix of ingredients to determine what flavors flow best.” A quick learner, she now helps train the bar staff and creates drink specials. Margaritas are her specialty. “To make a good cocktail, you have to put the time into it.”

The ex-Midwesterner has found her footing in Florida. She says she loves the diversity of her adopted home. “South Florida is a melting pot of people from all over the world, whether it’s my coworkers or the guests. The best part of bartending is getting to know people and having fun while I’m doing it.”

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

“The first time I ever bartended, I used a Barfly shaker and said, ‘I don’t want to use anything else.’ They’re my go-to shakers. The right tools are so important for proportion, precision and for keeping drinks fresh and cold.”

– Bartender Amanda Blair, Tacocraft Taqueria & Tequila


Israel Diaz

Showcasing the Flavors of Mexico

Israel Diaz is a busy man.

Over the last decade, he’s received awards for his bartending skills, been named a mixologist ambassador, traveled the world promoting his craft, consulted with restauranteurs and lectured at universities. And that’s just for starters.

Diaz, 38, grew up in the Pacific Coast beach destination of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He studied as a chef but ultimately preferred working the bar to the kitchen where he could interact with customers and enjoy their reactions to his creations.

“Making drinks is my passion,” he says. “When a customer is happy and says, ‘Hey man, you’re doing a great job,’ that for me is the most incredible feeling.”

Diaz managed several bars and restaurants in Puerto Vallarta and then opened his own in 2017, the Alquimista Cocktail Room in the nearby resort town of Nuevo Vallarta while simultaneously running his own catering business. The name—Alquimista—hints at his skills as a kind of alchemist who experiments with spirits, flavorful infusions and imagination to transform his cocktails into sensory experiences. “When you make a cocktail, you have to work with the senses,” says Diaz. “Drinks have to look beautiful. De la vista nace el amor.” It’s an expression that roughly translates to: the heart follows the eye. In other words, you have to first see something to love it. “You also need to use your nose to get all the notes, the aromas,” Diaz continues. “It must have good balance and good flavors. Even the feel of the glass is important. And you have to tell stories about the drinks.”

Diaz’s cocktails are quintessentially and proudly Mexican, made with quality local spirits like tequila, mezcal and Mexican-made whiskeys and lots of native fruits and herbs–lychees, pears, mangos, spicy peppers, and hibiscus. “The flavors of Mexico,” says Diaz. He’s helped to boost his country’s profile by representing Mexico in gastronomy events in London, Paris, Spain, South America, the United States and Canada. And while one might wonder how he has the time; Diaz has also been a featured mixologist on the Mexican edition of the popular TV series MasterChef. He described the opportunity as life changing. Mexican chefs have had long been celebrated on TV but mixologists never enjoyed the spotlight. “Never, never, never,” he says. With his appearance, the public learned what it takes to be a skilled bartender and the whole profession started to gain a new level of respect. “For that I feel bendecido,” he says. “I feel blessed.”

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

“A quality cocktail made by a quality mixologist requires quality bar tools. Together they form a social glue that adds a level of engaging professionalism and comfortable hospitality to the experience.”

– Israel Diaz, owner of Alquimista Cocktail Room in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico


Mixologist Matt Levy

Out of the Shadows

Some things seem meant to be. Like the side hustle Matt Levy dreamed up of opening a speakeasy-style lounge in his home called the Covert Cocktail Club. The address? Covert Street.

For five years, until the pandemic forced the mixology enthusiast to pivot in 2020, Levy and his now ex-wife welcomed strangers into their two-story house in Bushwick, Brooklyn, for a hush-hush cocktail experience.

“Hospitality is about sharing your passion and sharing your knowledge with people who are interested in the things that you do,” he says.

Levy describes himself as a cocktail nerd. “I’ve never worked a day in a bar in my life. I kind of fell down the craft cocktail rabbit hole about 15 years ago because making craft cocktails at home was a perfect Venn diagram of all of the things that I’m into.” He’s a full-time New York City tour guide and a one-time performance artist, careers that are all about hospitality, showmanship and engaging with strangers — just like bartending.

While Levy had been crafting cocktails for friends and family, “I never really had any notion of taking it semi-professional. I just figured it was a fun side hobby,” he recalls. “Then one day I got this idea: If I’m good at this — and I am good at this — I should do this for strangers and invite them into my home.” And so the whisper business was born.

He says he’s a “perfect example of taking your passion and turning it into a profession.”
A typical evening kicked off at 9 when an intimate group of strangers would show up for the semi-private cocktail experience, having learned about it through word of mouth or Levy’s Instagram. It was a kind of social experiment. Levy loved the connections made among strangers, how they came together and opened up about their lives. “What surprised me was how passionate people were and how engaged they were,” he says. After a few months, the media got wind of it. Punch Magazine and The New York Times ran stories about the club and Levy’s kitchen island was suddenly booked solid for over a year.

Covid forced Levy to close his doors to the public, but he carries on the role of cocktail evangelist. In the fall of 2020, Levy transitioned the business to an online model, the Virtual Covert Cocktail Club Experience. It’s targeted to consumers and corporate clients. And he’s taken the act on the road with a venture called Have Shaker, Will Travel, in which Levy brings his mobile bar to homes, offices and event spaces. Still, he hasn’t given up on the idea of reviving his original Covert Club. Some things will be different. For one thing, Levy no longer lives in the home on aptly named Covert Street. But wherever it is, Levy’s unsanctioned space will undoubtedly still be a craft cocktail sanctuary.

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

“A quality cocktail made by a quality mixologist requires quality bar tools. Together they form a social glue that adds a level of engaging professionalism and comfortable hospitality to the experience.”

– Mixologist Matt Levy, Covert Cocktail Club


Mixologist Chris Bidmead

The “Mechanic” of the Spirits Industry

Chris Bidmead recalls the evening years ago when he walked into a Manhattan lounge and “fell in love with the fact that I had no idea what I was drinking.”

Bidmead was no stranger to the bar scene. He had tended bar in his hometown in New York’s Hudson Valley, a community that had “more bars than people,” and where most spots served cocktails “that tasted like candy bars.” For Bidmead, “slinging drinks” was a chance to make money until he landed a real job. But when he found himself in the Manhattan lounge, tasting flavors he never knew existed, it “blew my mind,” he says. Bartending not only turned into Bidmead’s real job but into an all-encompassing career, taking him from mixologist to mentor to what he calls a mechanic of the spirits world—someone who builds better bars.

Bidmead, now based in Brooklyn, would go on to work in other facets of the business, including experiential campaigns for clients in the spirits industry. It opened his eyes to the global nature of the business and the sense of community behind it. He loved the camaraderie.

While Bidmead was taking advantage of opportunities, he was also creating opportunities of his own. He noticed bars were opening quickly in some markets, but they lacked the trained staff to run them efficiently. “You had people who would go in, open the bar, get it on its feet and then move on to the next project,” he says. “I was wondering where the mentorship was and who would teach the person behind them.”

The realization became the foundation of Bidmead’s venture, Bar Method, a bartender masterclass program he launched in 2016. Bar Method took a culinary approach, emphasizing the why behind every technique. “It’s like cooking. If you understand why you’re using a particular technique, you can better apply it,” he says. The program featured seminars by professionals at the top of their game and attracted people actively perusing growth in the craft from all over the country. Bidmead is now exploring an online version of Bar Method.

Although championing the next generation of bartenders, bar managers and beverage directors continues to be a priority, Bidmead embraces the role of “mechanic” as much as a mentor. “I’m very systems-driven. When I get involved in a new project or the opening of a bar, I figure out how to systemize as much as we can so that it’s rinse-repeat, and we’re not trying to solve the same problems over and over again. The goal is to create a bar like a machine. Let’s put all the pieces together, so everything works perfectly.”

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

When you use good equipment, it makes things more efficient. It makes things more repeatable. When your tools work with you rather than against you, everything is easier. I think it also gives you a chance to feel good about what you’re doing. Making a drink is so much about the vibe and the atmosphere and the experience. Having the equipment to match changes ther game.

– Mixologist Chris Bidmead, CEO Bar Method


Mixologist Dan LoDrago

Crafting an Experience

A chance meeting at a party changed everything for New Jersey mixologist Dan LoDrago.

At the time, LoDrago was bartending at a chain restaurant better known for its meatballs than martinis. “I thought there was nothing else I could learn, that I was already at the pinnacle of bartending,” says the 23-year-old.

But a conversation at a party with a bartender who worked at a popular restaurant and lounge led LoDrago to an opportunity–and an epiphany. He was offered the chance to barback at the establishment, the Montclair Social Club, known for its craft cocktail culture. It only took one shift for him to realize, “I didn’t know a single thing about anything.”

Instead of feeling discouraged, he was energized.

LoDrago worked his way up to head bartender, stepping into a rock star role behind the bar. He learned how to deal with people, intuit what they need and give it to them. “I learned why certain people came for this and other people came for that,” he says. “For instance, if someone didn’t want to talk but wanted an old fashioned, I’d make them a really, really good old fashioned and leave them alone. And as far as they were concerned, they just had one of the best bar experiences of their lives.”

These days, LoDrago is head bartender at Cellar 335 in Jersey City, NJ.
A bit of bottle-throwing, shaker-flipping flair is part of his routine. And while the spotlight might be on LoDrago, his focus is always on his guests. His favorite moments? “When I’m able to stand in front of a guest and ask, ‘Do you want light and refreshing? Or boozy and straight-forward? What kind of day are you having?’” Hospitality is a collaborative process. And for LoDrago, it’s a transformative one.

“When I found bartending, I was able to step out of my shell,” he says. “Outside of the bar, I’m a little more withdrawn, not so talkative. But when I step behind the bar, it’s a different mentality. I’m almost an entirely different person. More fun, happier. Everyone wants to see you and you want to see everyone.”

WHY BARFLY MIXOLOGY GEAR

When your bar is three deep and you’re in the weeds, you need sturdy and reliable bar gear to help you get through it. Every trade relies on the right tools. Having gear that’s going to get me through years of service is mos important.

– Mixologist Dan LoDrago