WORLD CLASS GLOBAL WINNER 2014
Charles works as beverage director at The Aviary bar in Chicago. He likes to keep his cocktails simple and seasonal, and enjoys a properly balanced Daiquiri, or a glass of spirits on the rocks.
Where did it all start?
I’ve been in bars for 17 years and worked in just about every style you can imagine. I’ve learned something at each venue, whether it be a nightclub, neighbourhood bar or craft cocktail lounge. There have been many highs and lows – from the rush of opening the doors of a new venue, to the family atmosphere that develops, plus quirky guest interactions and competition wins and losses.
Who inspired you to be a bartender?
I’ve been influenced by nearly every bartender I’ve met. In terms of spirits and cocktails, my first mentor was Bridget Albert. She opened my eyes to the many possibilities with drinks and got me off on the right foot.
What’s the best thing about your job?
This industry keeps you on your toes and is constantly challenging. If you’re bored, you’re not doing it correctly. The most difficult part is probably the hours and sacrifices in terms of personal life. Time with friends and family is at an absolute premium and doesn’t come often enough.
What’s your favourite secret, quirky ingredient?
I really like using vinegars. Shrubs are one of my favourite things – I could probably drink a jar of pickle juice. It presents acid in such an interesting way outside of typical citrus.
Where do you love to drink?
La Capilla in Tequila, Mexico. The owner, Don Javier, is the epitome of hospitality. If you can’t have a good time there, check your pulse. Callooh Callay because it’s fun, the staff are friendly and the drinks tasty. Artesian as Alex is such a lovely goofball of a gentleman. Plus an underground Goth club I stumbled into by myself last time I was in London. I made a bunch of new acquaintances and danced for hours…. that’s the beauty of knowing you’ll probably never see any of them again.
What’s the next big trend?
The future of bars is for the craft movement to trickle down to the mainstream. Local, neighbourhood bars that can execute a decent cocktail and use fresh ingredients will become more commonplace. Guests are beginning to have a higher expectation for what they are drinking, following trends in food.