Episode 8: Matt Grippo, Shirley Brooks and the famous Venus Rose


Matt Grippo is the Bar Manager, bartender, and partner at Blackbird Bar in San Francisco’s Castro District. Matt knows the Bay area well – the people and their tipple picks! He loves experimenting with new flavors and concepts. Matt recently created a limited-edition, off-the-menu selection of cocktails inspired by Game of Thrones which was a huge hit! Matt’s all-time favourite cocktail is Eucharist (Nopa Bar).


In addition to dynamic bartending, Matt is actively into writing about cocktails and his experience on both sides of the bar. Most of all however, Matt is a dedicated Father! You’ve heard from the lovely Shirley Brooks in our fourth episode and now you get the whole family together.

Talking about San Francisco, Matt says, “Cocktails, beer, wine, amazing food — it has so much to offer I couldn’t ask for a better city to live an indulgent lifestyle. We are spoiled and I love it.”


We get into family life in the service industry. They touch on how the industry comes together and despite some hardship, how life is great!




Nickies Bar


West of Pecos

Beretta Bartending Series



Speed Rack

Bottom of the Barrell

Cold Drinks

Connect with them on Instagram: Bottom of the Barrell, Matt, & Shirley

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Episode 7: Lauren Fitzgerald on Curating a Cocktail Experience

Lauren Fitzgerald, the current Bar Manager at Flores, a San-Francisco-based Mexican restaurant, is a specialist in craft cocktails and Mexican blends. Lauren was born and brought up in Texas and started at Buca Di Beppo. She studied at California Culinary Academy and has some solid input for people considering… After graduation, Lauren, being a vegan herself, joined Erin Tucker’s popular vegan food restaurant Millenium in San Francisco. It was here that she mastered the art of cocktailing and understood the importance of seasonal tastes.


In January 2010, Lauren moved to Portland and joined Portobello Vegan Trattoria as the Beverage Director and Bar Manager. She later moved back to San Francisco and started working at the outstanding bar/restaurant Flores.



Lauren’s favourite cocktail is one of her own creations – Bonita, which is a vodka-based drink, served over crushed ice with a deep magenta float of hibiscus tea and a sprig of mint. A lover of Wine, we enjoyed some amazing Portuguese wine at Hotel Biron in San Francisco. Shhhh… We want to keep it quiet.


In this conversation, Lauren shares how and why she’s made bartending a career,  and the importance of context for curating guest experiences. She also discusses why she’s a vegan and how she brings it behind the bar successfully. Oh, and if you want to start a swim-up bar somewhere tropical, Lauren will be happy to help you!


What is a podcast?

Plant Cafe

Aqua Faba

You can get in touch with Lauren on Instagram by CLICKING HERE.

Vegan Whiskey Sour made with Aqua Faba
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Episode 6: Kate Bolton discusses the standards of service & making bartending a career

Kate Bolton is the owner of Portland-based Mint & Mirth, a cocktail catering service that organizes impressive custom cocktail parties for corporate events and private parties.

An award-winning bartender and cocktail specialist, Kate’s hospitality career spans a decade. She began hostessing when she turned 15 and has worked in a variety of locations ranging from Costa Rica to the Bay Area and now Portland. Kate was one of the founding employees of Maven, a cocktail hotspot in San Francisco, and spent 5 years as Bar Managing Partner there. She continues to be a partner at the popular cocktail bar.

In addition to her other achievements, Kate has been awarded Eater Bartender of the Year (2012), San Francisco Chronicle Bar Star (2012), 7×7 Magazine’s Best Cocktail Menu (2013), and Nitey Award’s Mixologist of the Year (2014).

This episode was recorded before Kate bought Mint and Mirth so in this episode we focus on Kate’s standards of service and why she’s been in the industry. Enjoy the show!

Find Kate on Instagram: CLICK HERE

Listen the the interview with Joni Whitworth

(recorded at Portland Bottle Shop)


Mint & Mirth


USBG (United States Bartenders Guild)

CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture)

Michael Mina

Tony Robbins

Tribe by Sebastian Junger



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