“World Bartender Day” is February 24. In celebration of the date that acknowledges all of the hard-working cocktail slingers around the globe, I’d like to talk about how my bartending background benefits me in my job working for a distributor.

I currently serve as one of three Craft Spirit Specialists for Young’s Market Company of Arizona. Had it not been for the time I spent bartending, I never would have been able to transition into this amazing career, working for the top spirit, wine, and beer wholesaler in the Western United States. As a bartender and bar manager, I obtained invaluable insights into the minds of those whom I now work with to sell our amazing brands. Since I have done the work, I can tailor my brand presentations and trainings to fit the very specific needs of my accounts. I’m able to empathize with the challenges of the job and speak directly to their day-to-day responsibilities.

I believe that the most important part of a bartender’s role is to be hospitable. In the training manual of one of the many restaurants and bar concepts I’ve worked at, there was a section titled “Being of Service.” That concept has been central to my work ever since, and in my opinion, is the foundation to everything that needs to occur in the front-of-house of the food and beverage industry. With this mindset, bartenders can perfect the craft of the cocktail, whether it’s mastering the classics or creating new and exciting libations for their guests.

What inspires me when working on a new cocktail hasn’t really changed much from my time behind the wood to my current role. It’s all about what best suits the venue and the demographic of the guests that frequent it, coupled with the desire to try new flavor profiles, spirit categories, and cocktail styles. For inspiration, I keep in mind current trends, new flavors introduced to the market, and any events going on around town.

This cocktail came to fruition at the most recent “Last Slinger Standing – Ultimate Shake Off,” a competition that Young’s Market Company hosted at our state-of-the-art facility on 7th & Union just this past week during Arizona Cocktail Weekend. For the “Brogroni,” I collaborated with Aaron DeFeo (Little Rituals) and Shannon Krol (Rattle & Rum) to create this Vodka-based riff on the classic Negroni that features the new Hangar One Rose as the lead spirit.

Brogroni

1 oz Hangar One Rose

1 oz St. George Bruto Americano

1 oz Carpano Bianco

Stir and strain over 1 large rock in an Old-Fashioned glass, then garnish with an orange peel and a rose petal.

 

Jason GirardAbout the Expert: Jason Girard, Craft Spirit Specialist

Jason Girard, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, has more than 20 years of experience in the service and beverage industry. Jason is a veteran bartender with extensive experience working alongside accounts to design cocktail menus. Jason joined Young’s Market Company in 2012 and serves as Craft Spirit Specialist on the Craft & Luxury Spirits team in Arizona.

Jason’s passion for the cocktail industry is best illustrated through his involvement with Arizona Cocktail Week and the United States Bartenders’ Guild. Jason was instrumental in conceptualizing Arizona Cocktail Week leading up to its debut in 2012. The event just celebrated its seventh year and has successfully strengthened the cocktail culture among talented industry professionals and connoisseurs in Arizona. In 2009, Jason founded the Phoenix chapter of the United States Bartenders’ Guild and served as Chairperson until 2012. Jason continues to actively promote the craft of the cocktail through his role at Young’s and his involvement in the Arizona cocktail industry.