1. How did you get your start in the beverage business?
I actually started when I was 15 years old (not with beverages of course.) My mom used to cook a lot and I was fortunate enough to go to a lot of Michelin Star restaurants – plus I really love food.
I went to Johnson & Wales Culinary School in Providence, RI, then finished my program in Denver, Colorado. During the first two years I was in the culinary program and then I spent two more years there in the beverage management program. When I graduated, I really wanted to use my beverage school knowledge, so I became a corporate beverage trainer for restaurants across the Colorado region. I taught bartenders best practices, filled in on the floor as waitstaff and managed beverage programs.
I then linked up with Peak Beverage - a beverage catering company. It’s the first company of its kind in Colorado that offers hand-selected spirits and wines, mixers, glassware, and trained bartenders all under one “roof” (wherever your roof might be — which today might even be your home!)
2. What was your first virtual event and how have things changed?
My first virtual mixology session was in July for one of our long-standing clients who wanted to add some excitement to his first digital event. It went really well because it broke the monotony of just presenting information.
We’ve now done around 45 events across the country and some in Canada! Networking events like those that involve mixologists work the best when they are smaller audience...but we can handle large groups too. In fact, I did one for 190 people – which was one heck of a group “cheers.” And with each one we do, we learn more about engaging with a remote audience.
3. Great segue...What are the best ways you “engage” with a virtual audience?
The best way to engage people is with incentives...that is true in both the digital and physical space. (Why do you think vendors offer giveaways at trade shows?)
You can incentivize people in several different ways in the digital space, including prizes for participation, unique entertainment (magicians, DJs, and mixologists...cough cough...)
When you do have a mixologist – it really works best to send out the drinks and cocktail tools in advance. This really makes it a hands-on, immersive experience for attendees as they make the drinks using the ingredients and equipment right alongside me! And then we can all toast our drink creation together.
Oh — and tell people to turn the camera on!
4. What is one thing you’ve learned about “Pivoting” (yes…I said it) in 2020?
This year has taught us to take what you know and flip the switch on how to get your talents to others. We all have talents to offer others. The trick in the digital environment is finding a way to get it in front of others.
You would think as a catering company, we would be in trouble without having events to cater. But we knew we had a talented team who knew the ins and outs of beverages and making events special. We just figured out a way to share our knowledge to make digital events special.
5. Can you give us a peek into what you are looking to do in 2021?
Certainly more celebrations! Maybe not at the start of the year...but we will get there.
I think we will start to see a lot of hybrid experiences because some people will be anxious to get back together, while others may opt out of meeting in person for a bit longer. To be able to do both in-person and digital experiences, we are expanding our team of mixologists at Peak Beverage.
BONUS...because we have a mixologist on the line...
What is the hardest drink you have been asked to make?
By far the Gin Fizz, an egg white and cream cocktail...you get a ton of those requested during a busy evening and you are slammed!
What is your favorite drink?
The Toronto – Rye Whiskey, Demerara Syrup; it is a great smooth cocktail
What is the grossest drink you have been asked to make?
This has to be the Cement Mixer...basically you mix Irish Cream alcohol (like Baileys) and citrus together. The result? A curdled cream shot...i.e. cement. Nasty.
Since 2012, Peak Beverage has been providing a one-stop beverage solution for thousands of events across Colorado. With our own liquor store, our own bartender training program, and unsurpassed experience, you get real value. We are constantly innovating and learning, so we built a state-of-the-art facility to enable you to learn alongside us — whether you’re a master mixologist or pouring your favorite wines at home, we provide classes for all skill levels.