Italicus hires Haley Forest as its US brand ambassador, Martin Hudak leaves the Savoy, Mario Kappes becomes Borco’s first luxury brand ambassador, The Balvenie gets a new global ambassador, and a New York liquor store moves to Alabama.
A lot has changed since our last Movers & Shakers column, including big surprises at The American Bar and at Borco. Plus, a former Mixology writer has landed an exciting new brand ambassador role.
If you know anyone who has changed jobs in the bar industry recently, please get in touch and let us know!
From Drinks Writer to Pioneering Brand Ambassador
There’s nothing better than seeing a familiar face in an exciting new place. That’s why we were thrilled to see the announcement last month that bartender, drinks writer, and MIXOLOGY contributor Haley Forest was named US brand ambassador for Italicus Rosolio di Bergamotto. This makes Forest the company’s first ever US brand ambassador and a key figure in Italicus’s global marketing strategy.
A former bartender at New York’s Pouring Ribbons and Belle Shoals, Forest is also an experienced chef. This is her first brand ambassador role. “It’s an entirely different beast,” Forest says. “Bartending was very hands on and set, with room for creativity within the parameters of what I was doing.” But she adds that “writing actually better prepared me for this new role.” Forest is currently working with the team at Barmini in Washington, DC to develop a bar training session based on drawing out individual flavors from ingredients.
Despite the challenges of her new job, Forest says she’s “thrilled” to have the opportunity. “I always said that if I took a brand position, it would have to be a product I feel passionately about.” Clearly, this is it!
Martin Hudak Moves On (and On and On)
After nearly three years at The Savoy Hotel’s American Bar, senior bartender Martin Hudak got behind the stick for the last time earlier this month. A major sea change is in store, with Hudak leaving not only The American Bar, but also London. “I left this icon to challenge myself and prove that I can be as good as I am even without [the] white jacket,” Hudak explains. Now wearing the white jacket in Hudak’s place is Giannis Sitanos. Hudak describes his time working at The American Bar as a “privilege” and says he “cannot be more grateful for [the] opportunity” he was given. Another angle to Hudak’s exit was the London lifestyle. “Part of my decision was social aspect of living in London which didn’t make me happy anymore,” he says.
As for Hudak’s future, it certainly includes two of his favorite things: travel and coffee. The famously caffeine-loving bartender has already been spotted visiting coffee shops and roasteries in Beirut, chatting with baristas, and doing guest shifts at local cocktail den The Jerry Thomas Experience. We hear he’s planning a trip to New York next month, so keep an eye out for guest shifts there, too. “In [the] near future I’m gonna be again behind the bar providing [the] same five star hospitality but in [a] much warmer and relaxed country,” says Hudak.
Mario Kappes Leads Luxury at Borco
Mario Kappes has just received a big promotion. The brand ambassador and former Major Lion at Hamburg’s swanky Le Lion is now Borco’s first ever luxury brand ambassador. Kappes has been with Borco since 2016, acting as ambassador for Nikka Whisky and The Dalmore – two of the most prestigious whiskies distributed by Borco, which operates in Germany and Austria.
The company distributes other high profile brands, including Fernet-Branca and Rittenhouse.
According to a Borco spokesman, Kappes’s new portfolio “includes a wide range of [Borco] luxury brands” such as Chartreuse, Elijah Craig bourbon, Champagne Lanson, and boutique rums Ron Abuelo and Ron Vacilón. Given Kappes’s impressive 21-year career in the bar industry, it’s no surprise Borco wants to tap into his experience. Kappes is enthusiastic about his new role, saying “thank you Borco family [for giving] me this great chance.”
Going Global With The Balvenie
William Grant & Sons’s innovative Scotch brand The Balvenie has a new global brand ambassador for the first time in eight years. Gemma Paterson took over from longtime global Balvenie ambassador Sam Simmons (aka Dr Whiksy) this month. Paterson began working at The Balvenie distillery in 2014, eventually earning a place on the William Grant & Sons Nosing Panel, working with the company’s master distiller. In 2016, she became the US brand ambassador for The Balvenie.
“I feel so privileged to take up such a prestigious role and be given the opportunity to play a part in the history of this great distillery,” says Paterson. She also had plenty of praise for her predecessor. “Sam has provided a wealth of support and guidance to me throughout my time with The Balvenie… he’s been the perfect mentor for me.”
Selling Liquor From Brooklyn to Alabama
Cult Brooklyn bottle shop LeNell’s Beverage Boutique closed down in 2009, but now, nine years later, it’s about to reopen in Birmingham, Alabama. Store owner LeNell Camacho Santa Ana recently announced the grand opening of the reincarnated shop will be on June 9.
The original Brooklyn store opened in 2003, and quickly became a favorite hangout for bartenders looking for hard-to-find ingredients. The award-winning store was forced to close in 2009 after losing its lease. Since then, LeNell has opened a cocktail bar in Mexico, relocated to Birmingham, and spent the past 12 months working on opening the new store. We can’t wait to see LeNell’s back in action.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia