Cheers Beverage Conference is known for bringing big-name talent to the bar stage, and in 2012, Tony Abou-Ganim, Kathy Casey, Dale DeGroff and Junior Merino join us. These Celebrity Mixologists will showcase their inimitable talents at Cheers Classic Cocktails Night, our kick-off reception at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House, to be held Monday, January 23.
Additionally, Kathy, Junior and Tony will lead tastings on Tuesday, with Kathy sharing Quick and Easy Craft Cocktails, Junior introducing Latino Flavor Trends and Tony exploring The Wonders of Rum.
Tony Abou-Ganim is the author of “The Modern Mixologist, Contemporary Classic Cocktails.” This in-depth look presents Tony’s take on modern-day cocktails, featuring spirits and ingredients available to today’s mixologist – professional and amateur alike – but not forsaking classic traditions and techniques. This entertaining and informative journey takes readers from the early beginnings of the cocktail to what Tony has come to deem “Modern Mixology.”
||Tony Abou-Ganim |
The Modern Mixologist
Additionally, Tony won the 2007 Iron Chef America competition with Mario Batali, “Battle Mango,” and released his first DVD, “Modern Mixology: Making Great Cocktails at Home” (February 2007). Most notably featured demonstrating the art of cocktail preparation on the Fine Living Network program “Raising the Bar: America’s Best Bar Chefs,” Tony grew up in the bar business, learning the craft from his cousin Helen David at the Brass Rail Bar in Port Huron, Michigan. Tony's initial introduction to the business was steeped in the tradition of classic cocktails and professional barmanship, grooming him to become a leader in the beverage industry.
After graduating from college, Tony learned an appreciation for a well-made cocktail using only the freshest ingredients at Jack Slick's Balboa Café in San Francisco. In 1990, he assisted with the opening of Harry Denton's, a legendary hangout in Fog City. In 1993, he moved to New York City, where he worked with Mario Batali at Po in the West Village. And in 1995, Tony returned to San Francisco and rejoined Harry Denton to open Harry Denton's Starlight Room, atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. It was here that Tony created his first "Specialty Drink Menu," featuring several of his original cocktail recipes, including the Cable Car, Sunsplash, and Starlight.
In 1998, Tony was handpicked by Steve Wynn to create the cocktail program at his Bellagio Resort. Tony immediately implemented his philosophy of bartending and drink preparation – quality ingredients and proper technique create great drinks – developing the hundreds of original cocktails for the resort’s 22 bars. Currently, Tony operates his own beverage consulting firm specializing in bar staff training, product education and cocktail development.
As the national ambassador of the U.S. Bartenders’ Guild, www.usbg.org, and associate member of the Museum of the American Cocktail, www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org, Tony continues to educate about the history and lore of cocktails as well as lead the bar industry into continually improving the art of the cocktail. Tony lives in Las Vegas where he hones his craft daily by creating, sharing and enjoying the very best cocktails.
A celebrity chef, mixologist and pioneer in the bar-chef movement, Kathy Casey played a key role in bringing Northwest cuisine and women chefs to national prominence. As one of the first female executive chefs in the United States, she was named one of Food & Wine’s “hot new American chefs.” She has also been touted as being the original Bar Chef.
||Kathy Casey |
Owner, Kathy Casey Food Studios® - Liquid Kitchen™
A savvy spotter of what's hot on the culinary and cocktail scene, Kathy is a frequent TV and radio guest and speaker on trends. She has been featured in numerous national publications, including Esquire, USA Today, Fortune, People, Cheers, Food Arts, Food & Wine, Gourmet, Time Out, the San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times. She has appeared on CNN, “Good Morning America,” Food Network's “Unwrapped,” the Travel Channel's “Cooking Across America,” “Larry King Live,” Fine Living's “Great Cocktails,” “CBS This Morning” and “Northern Exposure.” You can often catch her on television as a guest chef, mixologist and entertaining expert. Her new web show – Kathy Casey’s Liquid Kitchen™ – premieres this fall on Small Screen Network.
Kathy is the owner of Kathy Casey Food Studios® - Liquid Kitchen™, an international agency specializing in delicious creativity: food, beverage and restaurant/hospitality concept consulting; product development; and food and beverage photography and promotions through social media. Clients such as Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, The Ritz-Carlton, Marriott Hotels, Cheesecake Factory, Minute Maid, Miller, Sunset Produce, Cuties Citrus, Alaska Seafood Marketing, Costco, Wild Hibiscus, Holland America Line, Restaurants Unlimited, Unilever, Monterey Gourmet Foods, Monin Gourmet, Beam Global Spirits, Crown Imports, SKYY Spirits, Ketel One, Diageo, Bacardi, Moët Hennessy, Rémy Cointreau and Proximo Spirits have sought her development skills, advice and expertise.
Kathy also owns Dish D’Lish® Food to Go-Go cafes, as well as Dish D’Lish branded retail and foodservice specialty food products and cocktail mixers.
An accomplished writer, Kathy is the author of nine cookbooks, including the James Beard Award-nominated “Kathy Casey’s Northwest Table.” Her newest book is “Sips & Apps.” Kathy wrote her feature column, “Dishing with Kathy Casey,” for The Seattle Times for 12 years; now you can catch her latest Dishing adventures on her blog. Kathy is also a freelance writer and blogs as “Ask the Expert Mixologist” for Food Network Canada and Amazon's Al Dente blog.
In 2010, Kathy was lauded as one of the 50 Best Twitter Chefs by Guide to Culinary Schools, and her blog, Dishing with Kathy Casey, was included in Saveur.com's Sites We Love.
When not dreaming up “the next big thing,” Kathy can be found foraging for wild mushrooms or shaking up cocktails with ingredients from her urban garden.
Catch Kathy on twitter (@KathyCaseyChef) or at www.kathycasey.com/blog, or find Sips & Apps on Facebook.
Dale DeGroff (aka King Cocktail) developed his extraordinary techniques and talent tending bar at great establishments – most notably, New York’s famous Rainbow Room, where in the late 1980s he pioneered a gourmet approach to recreating the great classic cocktails. Universally acknowledged as one of the world's premier mixologists, Dale is credited with reinventing the profession of bartending and setting off the cocktail explosion that continues to transform the industry.
||Dale DeGroff |
Dale is a founding partner of Beverage Alcohol Resource (BAR), a partnership of six of the world's leading spirits and cocktails authorities who provide training and credentialing in distilled spirits and mixology. His industry awards include the 2010 Tales of the Cocktail Spirits Award: Mentor of the Year, 2009 TOTC Spirits Award: Best Cocktail Book, 2009 James Beard Wine & Spirits Professional Award, the 2009 Lifetime Achievement Award from Nightclub & Bar magazine, 2008 TOTC Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award and 2007 Cheers Beverage Industry Innovator of the Year Award (awarded to all of the partners in Beverage Alcohol Resource).
Dale is the author of “The Essential Cocktail” (Random House), winner of the 2009 Spirit Awards; and “The Craft of the Cocktail” (Random House), winner of the 2002 IACP Julia Child Award. He is also the founding president of The Museum of the American Cocktail. Located in New Orleans, the museum offers a mixology series that brings top presenters from around the world to the Museum, and features an extraordinary exhibit that illustrates the colorful 200-year history of the cocktail. For more information, visit www.kingcocktail.com and www.museumoftheamericancocktail.org.
It’s no surprise that master mixologist Junior Merino, aka The Liquid Chef, has built his career on fusing exotic, unexpected flavors: He grew up in the culinary melting pot of Central Mexico. Beginning when Junior was just 10, his food-loving parents taught him to cook with local produce ranging from indigenous cocoa beans, to pomegranates native to the Middle East, to cilantro, which has Mediterranean roots. Despite all of these foods' varied origins, Junior saw that in combination, they created harmony – planting in him an early passion for culinary mestizaje, or blending diverse flavors. This technique, along with his intense work ethic, has helped Junior rise quickly in his field.
Founder, The Liquid Chef, Inc.
After immigrating to the United States at age 16, Junior rapidly progressed from busboy to bartender, and eventually to beverage manager at Roth's Westside Steakhouse in New York, all while attending high school and studying English and graphic design. At Roth's, the wine list Junior developed – his first ever – won an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator. Within months, Junior was initiated into the Court of Master Sommeliers' Guild of Sommeliers. Experiments with creating his own cocktails while at Roth's and later at The Modern spurred Junior to enter the International Bar Show's best cocktail competition in 2005, where he won first prize for his drink Coming Up Roses.
Since then, Junior has created signature cocktails for dozens of restaurants and bars around the world, including New York's Rayuela, Cafe Frida, 42 (located in the Ritz Carlton in White Plains, New York), Rix (located in Coronado Springs Resort in Walt Disney World, Florida), the Modern and Mexico City's famed Izote restaurant, Crudo by Don Pedro, plus Tokyo's ANA Hotel and Oprah Winfrey's “The Color Purple” show. He has also created unique cocktails for numerous liquor companies, including Leblon Cachaça, Russian Standard Vodka, Siembra Azul Tequila, Castries, Combier, and Domaine de Canton. Due to his well-known creativity, Junior has won a Rising Star award from Star Chefs and a special recognition from Bartender Magazine in which he was inducted to the 2007 Bartender Hall of Fame and in 2008 received recognition by Les Toques Blanches.
2009 brought The Liquid Chef a year to remember. In just a few short months, Junior launched a cocktail program on board Mexicana Airlines as well as one on Celebrity Cruises Equinox. He also launched his line of products: foams, syrups, mixers and salts.
In 2006, Junior decided to create a company that would incorporate nature's bounty into creative, one-of-a-kind drinkable masterpieces within The Liquid Lab. The Liquid Chef, Inc. was founded to educate and create new experiences, as well as to showcase the artistry and mixability of ingredients and liquors from all over the world. In 2008, Junior added The Liquid Team – mixologists he trained to execute his vision, philosophy and passion.
Always eager to share his extensive knowledge of spirits and ingredients, Junior has been featured in publications including Gourmet, Marie Claire, Time Out, Latina, Food & Beverage, The New York Times, Women's Wear Daily, and New York magazine, among many others, and has appeared on BBC Radio, Martha Stewart Radio, “Fox & Friends” and Televisa. He's currently working on a book.