What are your career goals?
The first is to run my own bar program
and, more importantly, be successful at
it. After I am able to run a bar for a few
years, I want to step into an ownership
role at a bar. This is my ultimate goal
and I have been reading and soaking up
info from some of my peers here in Chi-
cago on how to approach this goal so it
doesn’t end up being just a wish.
Who do you admire most in the restaurant/
bar business?
Mike Ryan, the head bartender at Sable,
who has been my mentor in everything
cocktail-related. Mike has accom-
plished a lot in the three-plus years Sa-
ble has been around, plus he makes me
look forward to work every day. I admire
his ability to make the changes and
tough decisions that need to be made to
evolve as a bar and become better with
every menu change.
Recent drink innovation that makes you
scratch your head?
Cocktails on tap for me water down the
whole experience of being at a bar, be-
cause a lot of the entertainment is watch-
ing the skill of the bartender.
If you weren’t tending bar, what would you
be doing?
Doing improv or doing something else
that demands a lot of attention. I am a
middle kid so I have that whole “look at
me, look at me” complex going.
Finish this sentence: “By the time I’m 40,
I’ll be…”
Part owner of two bars. That or be the
host of a show that tours bars around
the world and talks about why people
should go there. Kind of like a Guy Fieri
but without all of the hair dye and ter-
rible shirts. Do people from Food Net-
work read this?
What’s particularly interesting about
the drinks in the places and city where
you work?
I’ve worked really hard to get to the places
where I currently work, which are regard-
ed as two of the best bars in the city. That
being said, what’s particularly interesting
about the cocktails at Death and Co. is
the amount of work that goes into every
menu that we put out. Individually we
present our drinks, and as a team we per-
fect them. And I’m very humbled to work
with such amazing palates.
When you work on crafting a new drink,
what’s uppermost in your mind?
Well, I always start with one ingredient
that I’m excited about, whether I have
been dying to make up a new Calvados-
based cocktail or one with a new ingredi-
ent that has gotten me excited, like Dolin
Génépi. From there, based on that partic-
ular juice I try and play off of its nuances.
Time to brag: What makes you a good
bartender?
Honestly, I think that my ability to multi-
task and do it quickly while still being
able to engage my guests makes me not
only a great bartender to sit in front of but
also a great co-worker.
Who or what outside the drinks business
influences your work and how?
Chefs. I try and read about food and their
recipes and the extremely complex flavor
profiles they work with and try to make
drinks influenced by that.
Who do you most admire in the restaurant/
bar business?
Someone that I think is completely fan-
tastic is Julie Reiner. I have not had the
pleasure of working for her. But she’s a
strong female role model in the industry
who’s extremely successful and whom I
know I can always ask for advice from. I
can only strive to be as amazing or as well
respected as she is.
Your biggest non-hospitality related hobby or
pastime is...?
I’m currently trying to be a roadie for The
National. Ha!
ALEX RENSHAW
CHICAGO, I L
Reece recently was
crowned Speed Rack national
winner and is a third-time
“Tales” apprentice.
10 TO WATCH
ERYN REECE
NEW YORK CI TY, NY
“Rapidly infusing spirits with
a soda charger is very exciting
to me. It saves me loads of time
when experimenting.”
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