CRAFTING COCKTAILS AND CREATING CHANGE WITH SHANNON MUSTIPHER
We sit down with global cocktailian, author, and educator Shannon Mustipher to find out who inspires her, changes she would make to the bar industry, and how to succeed in your career.
While in college, Shannon Mustipher watched Big Night with Stanley Tucci which inspired her to host an intimate dinner party for nine. She served nine courses for her friends, all made from scratch, and this is how she fell in love with hospitality.
Shannon began working as a barista, which was how she discovered her passion for crafting drinks. When she moved to New York to pursue work in the photo industry, she took jobs working in wine bars in restaurants which inspired her home mixology hobby. That led her to bartending full time from 2014. Diageo Bar Academy sat down with Shannon to get her top tips to succeed in the bartending world.
Do you have a favourite woman bartender?
I have too many to count! They include Ms. Frank Marshall, Lynette Marrero, Ivy Mix, and Stacey Swenson. All of them are trailblazers who are incredibly hardworking and multifaceted.
If I must name one and only one, I will cite Tiffanie Barriere. She has had a long and fruitful career running one of the world’s best bars, working with brands, getting involved in trade education, and lending her amazing personality to consumer-facing, media appearances. In the words of one of my favorite entertainers, she’s “every woman” when it comes to the bar business.
What is your signature cocktail?
This is the easiest question by far: the Daiquiri! When I started the bar program at Glady’s in 2015, I embraced this as the marquee cocktail that the team would utilize to win the hearts and minds of our guests. The rum category did not have the best reputation, or a high level of exposure to the average consumer at the time. It has a fascinating history and is a great base to test what a rum - or a bartender - is made of.
What change would you make to the bar industry to encourage more women to join?
Bar culture would benefit from scaling back on the glorification of the party aspect of the profession, which unfortunately is linked to creating environments where women are made to feel unsafe or discover that they are in fact in an unsafe situation.
Over the past few years, the industry has not only made a concerted effort to address and correct this, it has made significant strides in providing in-depth education that makes it possible for women to improve their knowledge, skills, and marketability.
The next step would be to provide more financial education and mentorship to assist women in becoming owners of their own businesses - be it as bar proprietors, distillers, or consultants to create more options for individuals to participate in the industry.
How do you create a supportive and inclusive environment that encourages the growth of women in the drinks industry?
When I managed the bar program at Glady’s, I made a point to expose anyone on the staff - women or otherwise - to educational resources - be it taking the time to taste with them, take a few extra minutes to review a technique, to point them to travel and seminar opportunities.
We only had three women who bartend there for a year or more, as it was a small crew and I split most of the shifts with a gentleman for the first three years we were open, but they all went on to become bar managers, owners, and consultants, so I think something rubbed off.
Currently, I curate a pop up called Women Who Tiki - we activate six to eight times a year and invite three to six guest bartenders to showcase their cocktail innovations, get exposure via our social media channels, travel, and network with bartenders and producers from diverse areas of the industry.
Is there a bar that you love going back to that has become your favourite bar?
Again, I hate to name a favorite, there are so many I have visited over the years that have shown me a wonderful time! I will name a few: Bar Artesian ( when Simone Carporale and Alex Kratena were bar directors) - so classy, and yet impeccably warm and welcoming. I was in heaven.
I adore the Dante - their Martini service is great, and I always bump into an industry friend when I am there, somehow or another - it is impossible for me to leave there without a smile on my face and an extra pep in my step. Last, but not least, I must single out Raised By Wolves as the most impressive and mind-blowing bar experience I have yet to enjoy. The bottle shop out front is everything. Entering the bar via a “hidden” fireplace door is amazing. The interior and buildout are immaculate, with incredible attention to detail and the best materials money can buy. Then, of course, there are the drinks - the menu is over the top in terms of its diversity and complexity. That Eric Castro and his team are able to deliver so many of them, so quickly, without appearing to break a sweat is incredible. I give it a 11 out of 10.
What made you specialise in spirits rather than wine or beer?
As mentioned earlier, I fell in love with the craft of building and serving drinks while working as a barista in college. I enjoy beer and wine (I worked as a buyer for a brief stint before becoming a bartender full time), but spirits eventually emerged as my calling not only for the role they play in cocktails and mixology, but also for the numerous stories that they have to tell.
What did you wish you knew when you first started bartending?
I wish I knew that the industry has more opportunities than meets the eye. My ambition when I started out was simple - I wanted to make good drinks, and give my guests a great experience. The irony, looking back, is that I somehow managed to make it quite far, because I focused on the day to day fundamentals, and gave little thought to whether people knew who I was, whether or not I would write a book, create an RTD, or get involved in the numerous projects I am working on currently. I wanted to offer great service, and made that the number one priority in my work.
Are There Any Cocktail Recipes You Want to Share With Us Today?
I'd love to. I can give you two exclusive recipes from my book Tiki: Modern Tropical Cocktails. They are as follows:
- 57 ml coconut infused Smirnoff
- 14 ml creme de cacao
- 28 ml honey syrup
- 14 ml pineapple juice
- 99 ml lime juice
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker with ice.
- Shake and strain into a chilled Collins glass, and fill to the top with pebbled ice.
- Garnish with a pineapple wedge and two fronds, then serve.
Alcohol content: 19.67 grams
You can make coconut infused Smirnoff easily in a food-grade plastic container. Follow these steps:
- Add 113 grams of unrefined coconut to 750 ml of Smirnoff.
- Shake gently to integrate.
- Allow to rest at from temperature for six to eight hours, then transfer to the freezer overnight (eight - twelve hours).
- Remove the container from the freezer, and skim the solids off the top.
- Fine strain the liquid to remove any solids.
- Bottle and keep refrigerated for up to two weeks.
- 57 ml Jane Walker
- 14 ml mango syrup ( or puree)
- 14 ml lychee juice
- 21 ml lemon juice
- 4 -6 mint leaves and mint bouquet
- 2 -3 Peychaud's Bitters
- Combine all but bitters in a shaker with ice.
- Shake and strain into a rocks glass over cubed ice.
- Garnish 2 - 3 dashes of Peychaud's bitters and mint bouquet, then serve.
Alcohol content: 18.01 grams
Five Key Takeaways
1. Understanding ingredients and other industries like coffee can help you be a better bartender.
2. Learn the basics first – from here, you can build out your own offerings.
3. Rum has a fascinating history and is a great way to test what a bartender is made of.
4. Spirits have stories to tell - you are their author.
5. There's more opportunities in the industry than meets the eye - don't be afraid to find them and be creative!
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