The Tasting Panel magazine

Nov 09

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64 / the tasting panel / november 2009 age of 15. His skills and ingenuity were soon recognized, leading to jobs in such famous venues as The Caribe Hilton. In Puerto Rico, he later served as a brand representative for Absolut, Svedka and X-Rated vodkas. In March 2005, Alex moved to Chicago to fulfill a lifelong goal: a graduate de- gree in forensic psychology. As Master Mixologist at the Hyatt Regency, he was introduced to the U.S.B.G., where he quickly completed the program and be- came a member of the Illinois Chapter. In 2006, Alex moved to Las Vegas and started flair/mixology programs at The Mayan Latin Dance Club and Spirit of Cuba Restaurant and Bar. Continuing to develop and implement molecular mixology ("creating spheres, foams, liquor dusts and using a variety of other strange and exciting techniques"), he started a consulting company, Liquid Creations. His television show, Molecular Mondays, is currently shooting for The Food Channel, and he is also working on his first recipe book—"my life narrated by the drinks I have made." Portland Wine Director: Jeff Groh The Heathman Restaurant and Bar A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Jeff Groh moved to the Pacific North- west in 2000 after attending Ohio State University. During his time in Ohio, Jeff was employed with Cameron Mitchell Restaurants. Once in Oregon, Groh headed to the Newport, on the Oregon coast, and was the Food and Beverage Director for the Inn at Otter Crest. He commuted to Portland to attend classes at the International Sommelier Guild, completing the fundamentals course and graduating from the diploma program with top honors. In 2004, Jeff moved to Portland and joined The Benson Hotel as Director of Restaurants, where he managed all restaurant food and beverage operations for the hotel. Acting as sommelier, he re- focused the wine program to feature the highest quality producers and vintages. An active participant in the Northwest wine industry, Jeff has served as a guest sommelier for the Classic Wines Auction, ¡Salud!, and the 2005 French Master Chefs Dinner. He has also been the Maî- tre d'Hôtel for the prestigious Interna- tional Pinot Noir Celebration. Bartender: Jeffrey Morgenthaler Clyde Common Jeffrey Morgenthaler has been tending bar since 1996, in every- thing from neighborhood taverns and college nightclubs to fine restaurants and upscale lounges. He currently man- ages the bar at celebrated restaurant Clyde Common in Portland, Oregon. Jeffrey has been writing about bartend- ing and mixology for several years at his website, The website features original cocktail recipes, product reviews and discussions of bar- tending technique. His recipes and wisdom have appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal and in Wine Enthusiast, Playboy, Wired and Imbibe magazines. Forbes Traveler called him one of the "Cocktail Movers and Shakers" of 2007, and named him one of the top ten mixologists in the United States in 2009. Seattle Wine Director: Nelson Daquip Canlis Restaurant Nelson Daquip has been the most rapidly promoted employee in Canlis's history, rising from server to Wine Director in only four years. Food and Wine featured Nelson in their June 2005 profile of up-and-coming sommeliers. The following year, Wine & Spirits magazine named Nelson one of the "Best New Sommeliers," and in 2008 he was recognized as Seattle's "Best Sommelier" by Seattle magazine. After earning a culinary degree through the University of Hawaii, Nelson served at the prestigious Alan Wong's restaurant for three years. He found Canlis in the summer of 2002 and soon earned his place in the coveted six-month Canlis Vinternship program, aimed at developing young sommeliers within the Seattle wine community. Under Master Sommelier and Canlis Wine Director Shayn Bjorn- holm, Nelson learned how to run a world-class wine program and became a Master Sommelier candidate by pass- ing his advanced course for the Court of Master Sommeliers. Nelson expanded his horizons on his first trip to Champagne to assist with the second bottling of the Jean Milan "Canlis Cuvée" Brut. Nelson brings the aloha spirit to the table—a welcoming tradi- tion where he shares a piece of his life with each guest. As Queen Lililuokalani stated in her last message to the people of Hawaii, "Kulia I ka Nu'u"—strive for the highest. Bartender: Jim Romdall Vessel Jim Romdall is making some of Seattle's most com- pelling cocktails, but his professional life took a few twists and turns before he landed behind the serious bar where he belongs. Jim grew up in Seattle and began bartend- ing at a college bar shortly after turning 21. After college, Jim decided that he wanted to make movies, so he packed up and moved to Los Angeles where he ended up managing the bar at Granita in Malibu. Three years of L.A. was enough; Jim moved back to Seattle and ended up landing a spot behind the bar at Vessel. Knowing very little of classic cocktails, Jim just thought, "Sure, why not?" and soon found himself in love. Jim took over management of the bar in 2008 and continually strives to learn and taste as much as humanly possible. He's not sure what his other hobbies are be- cause this one absorbs most of his time and he's okay with that. Jim was named the "Seattle Rising Star Mixologist" by Starchefs in 2009 and is one of the founding members of the Washington Bartender's Guild. He loves being on the forefront of the cocktail world and plans to stay there. Jim says his high ambitions are matched only by the amount of fun he's having. The Bluies

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