Alex Kirles will be representing the U.S. in the Global Cocktail Challenge Finals in Trinidad. It’s a dream come true for the Detroit native, who always aspired to have a career in the bar industry. Read more about his experience in the competition so far, and what he admires about a company almost 200 years old.
How did you get into bartending?
I always wanted to be a bartender. I’m not really sure why, it just seemed like an amazing career. However, it also always seemed so daunting. There’s so much expected of bartenders by our guests. It was something I wanted to do, but not something I thought I was cut out for. A good friend was working at Sugar House at the time, and told me they needed a barback. I went in a few days later and gave them my resume. All teaching related jobs, and zero restaurant experience – they didn’t call me. A few months went by until one day I got a random call by the same friend. He asked if I could barback next Friday. I said yes and never looked back. I fell deeply in love with all this industry has to offer.
Where do you work now, and what’s your role?
I’m still at Sugar House with the current role of Head Bartender. I also bartend one night a week at Bad Luck Bar.
With so many new bitters flooding the market, where do you see ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters in the mix?
ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters will always be on top in my opinion. It is exciting to see all the new flavors of bitters emerging, as it’s opening up the idea of what’s possible. But, there’s that reliability Angostura has. My go-to suggestion when I taste a drink my staff makes is almost always “try it with a dash of Ango.”
What does ANGOSTURA® orange bitters bring to the table over other orange bitters brands?
The ANGOSTURA® orange bitters brings a reputation with it. It has this bright, youthful character in every dash. It’s almost as if they’re imparting a small part of Trinidad in every bottle.
The Rum industry has been growing over the last few years – What sets Angostura Rum apart from others?
Angostura’s lineup of Rum has been easily one of my favorite, and one of the most versatile lines I’ve come across. It has the perfect amount of funky and fruity esters, dark and mysterious aromatics and textures, and dry or sweet finishes. The 5 year and White Oak are wildly mixable in a number of different applications, and the 7 year and 1919 sit well in fun, easy-going drinks or more sophisticated sippers. The NO. 1 series is my favorite, and most called on when I have friends over. No matter what level or price point we’re talking about, Angostura constantly exceeds expectations when put head-to-head with other Rum. It’s the perfect balance between all of the common, and not so common, flavor profiles found in Rum. It’s what makes it truly one-of-a-kind.
What’s your favorite ingredient in the House of Angostura portfolio?
ANGOSTURA® aromatic bitters. 2 dashes in my Topo Chico always does the trick.
What’s your go-to recipe featuring it?
A Daiquiri, built on the drier side.
What are you most looking forward to at the GCC Finals in Trinidad next month?
I’m looking forward to experiencing a new culture. My friend Yani competed in the GCC Finals a few years ago and always had great things to say about Trinidad. I’m looking forward to sharing the experience with my fiancé who will be making the trip with me. And of course, Carnival!
What would winning and becoming the next HOA Global Brand Ambassador mean to you?
Winning would change my entire life. It would humbling to represent a company that is so well respected in the industry that gave me this amazing career and opportunity. I can’t put it into words. I wouldn’t have much if I didn’t bartend, and to be the HOA Global Brand Ambassador would solidify my choice to pursue this career that puts a smile on my face every time I step behind the bar.