April 6, 2023

TCGP S2 E13 - The Hospitalitarian with Chris Lowder

On this episode of on The Cocktail Guru Podcast, we talk with award-winning—and trilingual!—hospitalitarian Chris Lowder, one of the most sought-after talents in corporate and luxury bar consulting whose list of happy clients includes some of the world's most-exclusive, highest-profile, and best-known hotel and restaurant brands!

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On this episode of THE COCKTAIL GURU PODCAST, hosts Jonathan & Jeffrey Pogash take a global hospitality journey with award-winning—and trilingual!—hospitalitarian Chris Lowder, Co-Founder of Lowder-Tascarella Hospitality and one of the most sought-after talents in corporate and luxury bar consulting whose list of happy clients includes some of the world's most-exclusive, highest-profile, and best-known hotel and restaurant brands. All brought to you by The Perfect Purée of Napa Valley Red Sangria Blend and Unleashed Coffee.





Lowder Specs: An Easy List of 178 (Modern) Classics to Know - 2016 Edition (https://lowderspecs.wordpress.com)



"Chris Lowder - One of the most decorated bartenders of all time, smartest guy in the room, Manager of China for Proof and Co." - The Littrell Show (April 5, 2023) (https://pod.co/littrell/13-chris-lowder-one-of-the-most-decorated-bartenders-of-all-time-smartest-guy-in-the-room-manager-of-china-for-proof-and-co)


"Chris Lowder Teaches the Three Most-Critical Things To Know When Building a Restaurant" - No Agenda (October 27, 2022) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ynn-4nvYtzI)


"All In With The Well-Traveled Chris Lowder" - The Speakeasy (August 17, 2016) (https://heritageradionetwork.org/podcast/all-in-with-the-well-traveled-chris-lowder)



"Inside Advice from Chris Lowder: Insights from Chris Lowder, after battling COVID-19 from Inside China" - Difford's Guide (no date) (https://www.diffordsguide.com/g/1148/bar-entrepreneur-frontline/inside-advice-from-chris-lowder)


"World-leading bartender gives away all his secrets to making the perfect cocktail: Chris Lowder, the bartender at the Four Seasons in Seoul, recently revealed his top tips for creating world-beating cocktails - The Independent (December 6, 2016) (https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/food-and-drink/worldleading-bartender-gives-away-all-his-secrets-to-making-the-perfect-cocktail-four-seasons-chris-lowder-gin-vodka-whisky-a7458721.html)


"Why This Bar Industry Leader Just Gave Away His Secrets for Free" - Vice (December 5, 2016) (https://www.vice.com/en/article/78mbgz/why-this-bar-industry-leader-just-gave-away-his-secrets-for-free)

To see the full show notes for this episode, visit: The Cocktail Guru Podcast

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TCGP S2 E13 Christopher Lowder Transcript

Jonathan: Welcome to the Cocktail Guru Podcast, a

Jeffrey: show about food, drink, and

Jonathan: entertainment with a tight focus on the good life and all

Jeffrey: things delicious,

Chris Lowder: luxurious, and

Jonathan: fun. I'm Jonathan Pash, bartender, author, TV personality and founder of The Cocktail Guru.

Jeffrey: And I'm Jeffrey Pash, wine and Spirits Professional.

Jeffrey: Insatiable collector of culinary ephemera. And so people tell me an engaging

Jonathan: And my dad,

Jonathan: oh, hey dad.

Jeffrey: Hi John. How are you today?

Jonathan: I'm, I'm well. I'm well. Um, it's so great to see you and I'm very, uh, thankful that you are, uh, around, so that still, still around, still alive And you're still around? Yes, I'm

Jeffrey: still here.

Jonathan: I'm, I'm still the. And that we're able to bring on some amazing guests and have some amazing cocktails.

Jonathan: What are you drinking? Yes. You look like you have something fun. I'm

Jeffrey: drinking something. It's a tribute to our next guest because this is one of his, well, one of the cocktails that he, um, listed in his. I'm giving it away, but his bar manual will talk about that later. And uh, it is one of those cocktails and it attracted me cuz it sounded so delicious cuz I love all the ingredients.

Jeffrey: And it's a tribute also to our friends in the, that neck of the woods. It's called The Red Hook. The Red Hook. Mm. And I want to sh shout this out to our friends, Lucinda and Cin in red. That's right. This is

Jonathan: for you. That's right. They have, uh, great spots there in Red Hook. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Jeffrey: And so Seaborn and Oh yeah.

Jonathan: Right. Food Defiance, seaborne and Ford Defiance. That's right. Um, do you wanna, you, you wrote this really nice intro for our next guest. Do you wanna, um, start reading it? I don't know about it. It's, it's pretty, it's a nice long intro. Dad.

Jeffrey: It, it is long. I don't know how nice it is, but it's lie. Try to be nice.

Jeffrey: But, um, it is, uh, I just wanted to mention first. I'm excited about having this guest with us because he's someone I have read about, read a great deal about. I have heard about him. I've read about him in a variety of publications and online, but I have never met this gentleman before. Um, I must say that this episode is going to be like playing, where's Waldo?

Jeffrey: Because I don't know where he is located. He is in Exotic Lands every day it seems, from one Asian country to a South American country to a North American country. It, he's just literally all over the world and I'm dizzy trying to, just trying to keep up with. I really am. He's a much sought after bar consultant.

Jeffrey: That's why he travels so much. He's recognized the world over because he has created bar programs in some far away exotic locales that are among the most challenging markets in which to work, such as China, South Korea, and even New York. I should also add that those countries he has consulted for are some of the most demanding or within those countries.

Jeffrey: He has consulted for some of the most demanding corporations in the world, including Disney, four Seasons, hotels, Holland, America, cruise Lines, Starbucks, Bulgar, Bulgari, uh, the Magnificent Jewelry Company, and many, many. If that were not enough, and I think it is would be for me that were not enough. In 2016, our guest released a bar manual in which he compiled 178 modern.

Jeffrey: Classics to help young bartenders in their quest to learn some of the most important and requested drinks in the mixology universe. Best of all, he gave this list to the world to everyone without charge. He just gave it to us, downloaded the list. I downloaded the list myself, and I'll be using it and learning from it forever.

Jeffrey: I'm speaking of course of

Jonathan: bartender. Hold on. We're gonna bring him. We're gonna do this little tea. We're gonna bring him on after this quick break.

Chris Lowder: There's nothing better than the smell of coffee in the morning. What if you could enjoy a coffee subscription of fresh roasted specialty coffee while making a difference in the lives of farmers that grupp it?

Chris Lowder: What if you also had access to a virtual coffee community of other coffee lovers and the coffee farmer and roaster? That's all part of the Farm to Cup Coffee Club subscription at Unleashed Coffee. Subscribe today unleashed coffee.com. And now we're back,

Jeffrey: back from the break. Good. I, of course, was speaking of bartender, consultant mixologist X.

Jeffrey: Now Mr. Chris Load.

Jonathan: Hello. Welcome, Chris. Chris.

Chris Lowder: Hey there. How are you guys?

Jeffrey: Very well, Chris. How are you? Thank you. Very

Chris Lowder: well. Very well. I'm a couple coffees deep. I'm, I'm fired up. I'm ready to go. It's, you're ready to go, Chris.

Jeffrey: Louder And Jonathan

Jonathan: ready. Since you're ready, since you're ready to go, Chris, um, we always ask our guests, what is your, um, desert island drink?

Chris Lowder: Oh, boy. I think if I'm on a desert island that sounds, So I would have to do a Queens park Swizzle. Sounds like a really good time. Oh yeah. That's a new drink for you listening. That's kind of like an aged drum mojito with a whole bunch of bitters on top. Uh, it's a gift that keeps on giving. It's a good time to be.

Jeffrey: It is a delicious drink. It's

Jonathan: one of my favorites. Yeah, that is, that is one of your favorite drinks, dad. Yes, it is

Jeffrey: always.

Chris Lowder: Chris, that's exciting. Yeah. Um,

Jonathan: it's, it's been a little while, uh, since we've seen each other. And you as, as dad was saying in his intro, you are all over the place. Um, you started in New York City, uh, well, you, you started in your home state and then in, and then worked in New York City, worked your way up, um, fine dining and at one point you, um, were task.

Jonathan: With a pretty large move, uh, across the country and across the Pacific Ocean, is that not.

Chris Lowder: That's right. Um, so you're referring to, I, I was once the bar manager for a nomad, uh, a hotel in New York City called The Nomad. Um, yeah, we did well for ourselves, sadly close to Covid, et cetera, et cetera. But before that happened, um, I got a role opening a Four Seasons hotel in Seoul, South Korea.

Chris Lowder: So I moved. Gosh, I have to remember, it must have been 2014, something like this, um, over to Seoul to open four seasons and, and take everything that I learned in New York and, and do it in Korea for a little while. That was a lot of fun.

Jonathan: And working in, uh, a foreign country like that. Did you have any, um, education on the language, on the style, or was it really just um, you know, fish outta water for.

Chris Lowder: Oh boy. Uh, well, so it's, it's a weird story as all good stories tend to be very weird. Um, so once upon a time, I grew up cooking and washing dishes in a crab house in Maryland. That's kind of how I got into the industry when I was 15, um, as a dishwasher. And that was to make money to buy guitar equipment cuz I was in a punk rock band.

Chris Lowder: So that's, whoa, that's really my, that's my entry into this world here. Yes.

Jeffrey: It, it was, it was Woody's Crab

Chris Lowder: house. Woody's crab house very, very good. Absolutely. That's right. Um, in, in Cecil County, Maryland. And so I, I, uh, needed a guitar and a, a buddy of mine was like, well, they need a dishwasher down at the K crab house if you wanna go and, and, you know, make a couple bucks scrubbing crab, bisk off pots and pants.

Chris Lowder: So I said, that's okay. Um, and continued cooking to support myself when I went to. And when I was in university, um, I didn't much care what I studied cuz I just wanted to play music. And there was a major called Asian Studies, which was, it sounded super weird. And I figured, well if this is just something I'm doing in between gigs for my band, then why not have fun with it and do something weird?

Chris Lowder: So long story short, I got scholarship and I, I wound up living in China for a few years and eventually became a translator. So that was like a whole wow. That was a whole chapter of my life is, uh, I was a translator for industrial economics. Um, and hated it. I mean, it's, it's, the language is fascinating.

Chris Lowder: The culture's fascinating. Uh, it's the inbox outbox nature of translation that, that is, uh, a little grinding. And I said, gosh, I really miss. My time, uh, in restaurants. And so that's originally why I moved to New York City and worked at Mom Fuku. Um, so when I went to Korea in some weird way, it was kind of a homecoming for me because I had already lived in China about two and a half years.

Chris Lowder: At that point from when I was 19, that's when I moved to Asia first, and I was there until I was about 22. And I'd never been to Korea though. Don't get it twisted that if you know something about, uh, China, you know, South Korea, right? These are very different cultures and languages. So, um, but I figured, hey, this is a step closer to the dream of, of taking what I learned.

Chris Lowder: Asia and taking what I learned in New York and kind of mixing 'em all together. And so, uh, did that, and that was a whole learning experience for me, not just in terms of. Of course navigating a foreign country, having to do a visa process, having to, you know, train Korean bartenders on, uh, the recipe style that we were aiming to achieve in that bar, which went on to be one of the 50 best bars of the world.

Chris Lowder: Um, but also, And it's called Charles h. You should Google it if you, if you want. It's a beautiful bar. Very worth checking out. It's had, uh, some incredible people there stewarding it since, since I, uh, did what I could and it's very, very worth a Google. It's beautiful.

Jonathan: I love, I love that name. I love the name Charles h named for Charles H.

Chris Lowder: Baker. Baker, well, you mentioned Yes. You mentioned Singin earlier. We've got a lot of friends in common here. Oh, yeah. Uh, before I left, he gave me a copy of, of Charles h South American, uh, companion. Yep. And anyway, that's, that's like a whole different story, but. There's going there and doing what you do.

Chris Lowder: But I think what was most interesting and fascinating for me as a professional in this space, and I think a lot of people listening are gonna relate to this, is coming to a foreign country with one expectation of what bartending is and what services and what that looks like, and then being very humble.

Chris Lowder: By a local reality that, you know, just because something works in New York where we tend to, you know, speaking on behalf of people in New York, we tend to believe that we're like the eye of the cultural storm of earth. Right? Uh, not the case, not the case. People don't, uh, need to care about anything that happens in New York.

Chris Lowder: Like the South Korea is a beautiful culture with beautiful traditions and. For me, the biggest lesson I think I learned from that whole journey was understanding that it's very difficult to really, as an outsider, um, who is humbly touring, you know, foreign spaces around the world to project your expectations of what service, hospitality and excellence should.

Chris Lowder: Onto a culture and context where that may not be appropriate. You know what I mean? Mm-hmm. So I'll give you an example of what I'm

Jonathan: talking about. Yeah. How, yeah. What's an example? How did you navigate

Chris Lowder: that? So let's just talk about like water in our, in a restaurant. Like let's, let's start super baseline.

Chris Lowder: So in, uh, in Korea. Okay. In New York or in, in the States. In, in Europe, in kind of like service and hospitality, as we tend to define it in the. Western, you know, European American, Australian context, um, Anglo-European context is. Uh, heavily hands on, right? Which is, I'm anticipating your demands before you see them.

Chris Lowder: If I see that your water is half empty, I'm gonna go top it up. I'm gonna maybe engage in a little small talk at the table when appropriate, not intrusive. Um, And that's kind of the back and forth even when we think behind the bar, right? There's a lot of people listening, I'm sure, who, who are bartenders or cocktail enthusiasts.

Chris Lowder: And one of our favorite parts of sitting at a bar is small talk discussion, chit chat, right? That's really how we can kind of define what makes a great bartender in a lot of cases, right? Right now in in Korea and in the Korean cultural context. Um, that is heavily inverted. So in, if you go to a restaurant in Korea, uh, there's a refrigerator to the side where they have beer.

Chris Lowder: Soju and mli, and that's the alcohol fridge. And when you want more bottles, like you just go over there and just grab 'em and take 'em back to your table. And the, and a lot of the food is served family style. And the reason why is because a definition for hospitality in Korea might be. I'm here with my friends and I'm hosting and part of my love language of hosting.

Chris Lowder: Part of how I show that I care is to. Me at my table for my people, anticipate their needs and cut the meat and cook the soup or, you know what I mean? Mm-hmm. Open, open the beers and all this. So you find yourself in a real quandary where, uh, and let's, I'm excited cuz maybe, well, this, this drifts into a topic of like awards and ranking bars and things internationally, which you'll see really quickly when you start to go down this rabbit hole becomes very problem.

Chris Lowder: Because you've got people visiting from overseas saying there's a guy from the Nomad or whatever. I want to go and experience that bar. Whose cultural context do you define great service and hospitality in? Do you define it by the people who visit that bar that are from foreign countries? You know? Five star checklist.

Chris Lowder: Did my drink come with a CTE or there, you know what I mean? There's all these black and white binary ways to identify and evaluate what makes a quote unquote five star experience. Same as, you know, if I'm a traveling bartender or or brand representative and I go from London, Sri Lanka, right? Like, am I defining great service and hospitality in a great bar based on my own cultural context?

Chris Lowder: Hmm. Or am I defining it based on Western area,

Jonathan: Western

Chris Lowder: culture? I'm a guest. Yeah. Right, right. And so you really quickly, uh, you really quickly, if you, I think, are listening and being empathetic, you really quickly have to reevaluate what great service and hospitality. So that you're not projecting one cultural standard into a space where it may not be appropriate, and that gets us into a real problem.

Chris Lowder: Right. Like, you know then. Right. Well, that's that's

Jonathan: great. That's very interesting. That's very interesting because yeah, as American bartenders as Western. I don't know about, not really Europe, but American bartenders. We're always anticipating the next step for our guests, you know, and if there's a guest with a, with, uh, you know, a little bit of their drink, their cocktail, like you were saying, water, little bit of their cocktail.

Jonathan: Next, you might go over and say, would you like another drink? Or Would you like to, to see the cocktail menu again? But, In, in Korea and Asia, it sounds like, you know, the host would be in charge and they're the ones who need to anticipate. So, you know, my, my question also is how does that translate to when you're training bartenders there?

Jonathan: How are you? Yes. Are you, you know, are you training them? Is it like a, a 50 50 blend? Is it a happy medium? Is it, um, you know, you need to take the cue off of the, the.

Chris Lowder: That's a, that's a really great question, and it becomes something where, uh, I see it done well and I see it done in a way that can be a little clumsy.

Chris Lowder: Uh, and this comes from after, just to frame where I'm coming from in this discussion. After South Korea, I wound up joining a group called Proof and Company, which is one of the most decorated bar consultancies on earth. Uh, and. Especially in the Asian context. Right? And so we had offices in Singapore, uh, uh, regional Asia servicing to Thailand, qu Lumpur, you know what I mean?

Chris Lowder: Um, Maldives, I was running greater China. And so doing lots and lots of bar trainings. I mean, I've, I've been grateful enough to probably train over 10 Oh, People Wow. In different seminar settings and you know, you go to one city and, and 120, 150 bartenders will show up just to learn. And this is like a quote unquote tier three city in China.

Chris Lowder: They're just enormous, right? So you, you get a lot of reps in, you get a lot of practice having these discussions and, and I think over time, if you're sensitive, can, can better navigate these discussions. But initially, so I'll, I'll frame this. As part of my own story, like initially I really got it wrong, which is I was training that bar on a purely western, you know, this Anglo, Anglo-American standard for service and excellence, um, which is, we're heavily watering.

Chris Lowder: We're going, you know, if, if the cocktails down to the last dregs, we go and we offer another one, or we drop a menu. And initially the, the staff there, because it's also quite a hierarchical culture. And I was like, you know, the, the, the leader in that situation, um, I could sense that there was a little discomfort, but I originally wrote it off to, um, shyness or a cultural misunderstanding or something like that.

Chris Lowder: Later when I saw it in action by being in that bar every day, I quickly realized that I was doing, I think, the wrong thing, because we were pissing off our guests. We were going in trying to water people, and I would see, uh, guests get animated, like visibly frustrated of, I'm in the middle of a moment with my guest here.

Chris Lowder: We're sitting. I don't understand why you're interrupting me. I don't understand why you're coming here at all. Mm. The Korean and in China, you get into this and even in Japan, usually you have a button. Sometimes you call it the ping pong button cuz it makes a little ping pong sound like out in the back.

Chris Lowder: And so you hit a button and then there's like a area of servers way off in the distance and they'll go, ah, you know, like, just to like, I hear you. You know what I mean? I'm. Um, or in China you might, you'd yell, or in Korea, you'd, you know, you put your hand up and you go like auntie or in China, fu like the server and you kind of holler and, and shoo somebody over.

Chris Lowder: And that's not seen as, um, rude, right? It's seen as, as you're the server and you're over there for when I'm ready to be served and when I'm ready to be served, I'm gonna call you over to me. And so initially, Like coming from a fine dining background in the States, when I saw people, uh, having, you know, putting their hands up to bring servers over.

Chris Lowder: Yeah. I was like appalled. Like, oh my God, we're failing these people. You know what I mean? Because we have not anticipated their needs. They feel the need to put their hand up and, and, and rush us over, uh, later. I just, you know, it, it's part of being humbled. It's part of experiencing that over and over again and saying, I'm.

Chris Lowder: I can, I'm humbled now that I can look at this and be like, I am the, it's me. I'm the problem. Right? And so that really

Jonathan: changed. To quote, to quote Taylor Swift,

Chris Lowder: quote, Taylor Swift, for all you swifty slash cocktail won overlap out there. Uh, it's me. I'm the problem, and I can, I can identify that, uh, So that having been said, it's not inappropriate to alert people in an international hotel that when you have Western guests coming in, they're gonna have a totally different service expectation.

Chris Lowder: And so eventually we met somewhere in the middle of, look, we are a Four Seasons hotel, we are international and I've gone on to do lots of trainings at, you know, Amman's, Capella's, b Bellagio, Bulgari for Seasons, you name it. And uh, that's really the tact that I wound. Going with was, look, this is an international brand.

Chris Lowder: You are gonna have international guests, you're gonna have club members that come in from overseas. They're gonna expect this. One whole set of hospitality and service standards, but then you also have your own cultural context, which, um, to ignore is, is deeply arrogant and problematic. Um, like, I'm not gonna come into China and tell Chinese people how to treat other Chinese people.

Chris Lowder: That's insane. So, uh, but I say insane. But you'd be amazed how often you see it done right? Is just No, no, no, no. Like this is service. Yeah. Or I was on a call. Uh, just last week with someone who was, you know, quote unquote trying to get into consulting and was like, I was just in Thailand and the service was awful.

Chris Lowder: I was like, dude, the service wasn't awful. The service was awful in your cultural context. Like if you were Thai, they crushed it. You know what I mean? Because they, they gave you, they, they conformed to your expectation of what a great meal experience might be. Right? So you get into, I mean, the farther you tease into this rabbit hole, you get into problems with international rankings of, of spaces, and you're like, you know, by whose cultural context are we saying that something?

Chris Lowder: The best. And that's like a whole vipers nest of, of ethical and cultural problems, you know? Right.

Jonathan: Well, we, we have so much more to talk about, um, including your book and, um, I want to touch on something else about education and about TikTok, but we're gonna take a quick break and be right back. Hey everyone, Jonathan here.

Jonathan: If you're into swag as much as we are, then look no further than our cocktail guru shop. The items in our store have been personally chosen, handpicked with care by me. I'm Jonathan, and my team of cocktail gurus. A water bottle with a stainless steel straw. Yep. T-shirts. Mm-hmm. Hoodies that snap back hats.

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Jonathan: 10% off with Code Guru 23. Cheers. And we're back. Mr. Chris Louder. And, um, Chris, you know, you came into my radar when you were, I believe, you know, working in New York City and working at Nomad, but, um, really when I noticed that you spent a great deal of time on educational materials for bartenders, um, for consultants that you made.

Jonathan: Public for anyone to, um, grab and utilize. And I need to tell you that since you put that out there, which was probably around 2014, something like that, um, I use many of your quotes in my bar consulting trainings, um, including one of my favorite, which is your, uh, description of, um, an Apple martini.

Chris Lowder: Yes, absolutely.

Chris Lowder: And for anyone listening that's uh, Um, and this, I think comes from my, let's talk about Apple martinis for one second, and then I'll, I'll chat about, I, I, I think what the, the, the core question here is, um, when you get into a bar and all around the world, I find that in the beverage profession and in the service industry, sometimes we can have a very egocentric view of what things.

Chris Lowder: By definition, like someone comes in and orders an apple martini, we might say, uh, we don't make those, or I don't have Apple pucker, or whatever. Right? But the problem is that they're defining Apple martini, like they have a story in their head of what an Apple martini is, and it probably does not involve a specific recipe.

Chris Lowder: It probably is. I want something that looks like a martini that tastes like apples and is d. Right. And maybe, and maybe it's green maybe and maybe it's green. Absolutely. Like, you know, can you do that? Right. Right. And so there oftentimes there's a interpretation gap. Between what a guest is thinking and the story in their head, and what a bartender's thinking and the story in their head.

Chris Lowder: And ironically, as service professionals and as hospitality professionals, like we should be in the business of empathy and thinking with a position of generosity. I don't know anything about this person probably that just came to my bar, except that they're. So already we've got something in common. I work here, you're here.

Chris Lowder: You wanna spend money on my craft, right? Yeah. That's a compliment like, let's start there of they're, by virtue of the fact that you're both in the same space. You share interests, you share an interest in cocktails, they're complimenting you based on, I understand that you do this craft, and I, I wanna, um, invest in what you do and experience it, right?

Chris Lowder: So, wow. First of all, secondly, they're saying, What they're saying that they want apples. Okay. Can you fulfill that? I think so. You know, if you, if you're really good at what you do, then you should have some appley thing in your back pocket. Um, can you meet in the middle, like between your world and their world in a way that everyone's happy at the end of the day?

Chris Lowder: Absolutely. So, um, that's my little mini rant. That's a, I think, a rehashing of my rant that's in my book. Um, but yeah, I, I made it all. It's, that's the right thing to do. I, uh, I think that for a number of reasons. Firstly, I think that bartending is an extremely powerful, and service in general is an extremely powerful vocation that people can practice all around the world to, uh, put food on the table for themselves and their families to improve in small ways that are meaningful.

Chris Lowder: The lived experience of guests who choose to spend their. With them. Uh, and I think that that should be accessible, right? To try and gate keep these fundamental pieces of information for me is, is unethical. And I think that if you are going to. Anyway, to become a great bartender has nothing to do with recipes.

Chris Lowder: It has nothing to do with costing out a cocktail. It has nothing to do with knowing the recipe for a syrup or an infusion or a specific drink. It's all in the execution, so to give away detail. That are frankly, already googleable, like we're drowning in data, we're starving for wisdom, right? That's our culture right now in a nutshell.

Chris Lowder: So like to give people just a better organized piece of data with a couple pieces of hopefully useful wisdom in there, um, I think is, hopefully it just is, is furthering the good. And if a couple people can take that manual and use it to improve their lives and some people around them, then, then that's, that's a good way to spend some time in my opinion.

Jonathan: And that's now, Chris, that's your, uh, that's your book. The 178 cocktails. It's in, uh, some of that is in there. Yeah,

Chris Lowder: that's right. So it's, if anyone wants that, uh, just check me out on Instagram or. I'm on both at, get louder now. G E T L O w D E R N O W. And I have a link tree that it's a free download. It's not behind a paywall, it's not behind an email capture wall.

Chris Lowder: I don't want your information. It's literally like you click the link and you can download the pdf. You never have to hear my face again. You know what I mean? And,

Jeffrey: and if I can do it, anybody

Jonathan: can do it. If you could tell me, dad is showing us, dad is showing us his tablet where he has downloaded the pdf.

Jonathan: This is louder,

Jeffrey: easy list of 178 in parentheses, modern classics to note. And it's from 2016.

Chris Lowder: Thank you very much. Yes, and that's, uh, it's beautiful a book in a nutshell. Thank you. If anyone wants to read it, uh, I wrote it in just casual conversational dialogue. Um, I tried to not make it too cerebral, the exercises for this information to be accessible and it's every major spirit category.

Chris Lowder: Three shaken cocktails, three stirred cocktails that I think are really good. I'm not claiming authorship of any recipe in the book. This is things that I've learned on my journey having tested many, many, many, many, many recipes. These are the ones I feel like are just consistently great. Uh, and it's got my little 2 cents, the beginning of every section about that.

Jeffrey: Now, I know many of these are classics, but are they your. Versions of classics, is that a, you have tweaked

Chris Lowder: them a little bit over the years, right? That's a great question. So my, i, I, uh, am a very nerdy ab testing, science driven, uh, dweeb when it comes to recipes in their development. So my own journey around recipes when I first started in the industry was I.

Chris Lowder: Um, the p d t cocktail book mm-hmm. Was I think the first big one for me. After reading lots and lots of blogs and, you know, I of course got, uh, joy of Mixology and Oh yeah. And Dylan Cox's book and all this stuff. The craft of the cocktail

Jonathan: and maybe, maybe the Mr. Boston Bartenders Guide edited by me, Jonathan Po.

Chris Lowder: Boom. I do have a Mr. Boston and I did buy it at that time a hundred percent. Um, and those are all extraordinarily useful books, especially if you read the, the, the po ash forward. That's probably the, the most useful, um, piece of cocktail literature that one can read. Um, comma, when I saw that P D t uh, book.

Chris Lowder: And I'm saying this, looking at a copy of Meehan's Bartender Manual. Mm-hmm. Um, the P d T book, what I very quickly realized is that, uh, all the recipes in there pre 1970 are pretty solid specs, right? They're pretty solid specs, um, for classics. Anything after 19 70, 19 80. Um, especially like the P D T indigenous recipes, it got a lot into like, you know, cheeky infusions and interesting syrups and stuff.

Chris Lowder: That's cool to read, but complicated. Yeah, and it's not really like from the perspective of someone just getting into their bartending journey, you don't need to make popcorn. Infused rum, right? Like you just don't need that when you're first starting, right? What you need is to learn the fundamental building blocks of the science of quote unquote mixology as it's been developed.

Chris Lowder: So I started there and one of my. Favorite positions at the Nomad Hotel was Service Bar because it's a concealed service bar where you don't have to talk to a single guest, and all you're doing is pumping out rounds of eight cocktails at a time all night. Every night and you're making like 400 plus drinks a night in a little box that's just surrounded by walls with a curtain in front of you and you're just vibing, right?

Chris Lowder: You're in a flow state. So what I would do is, uh, I started with P D T and then I turned that those recipes in no flashcard. And I had my book, um, my Little Notebook, and then I also, I'm a big recipe collector and I had friends at Death and Co before their recipes all got published. And I was also working at a couple places in the East Village, um, Amor Margot.

Chris Lowder: And, uh, I had some friends at, um, the. Oh, I gotta remember some of these great bars that just sadly don't exist anymore. But they were doing amazing work. Like, you know, Tom Richter and Joaquin cmo and some of these guys that I think are some of the best recipe writers. Mm-hmm. Ever. Um, I just would ask them, you know, could you please.

Chris Lowder: Share with me your spec list. And um, so I started reading all those. A friend of mine gave me the madre, sun, milk and honey classics. I dunno if you guys have seen that, but it's an epic excel of every variation, of every classic. Oh wow. I don't

Jonathan: think, I don't think I've seen that.

Chris Lowder: Uh, I've got it in a drive.

Chris Lowder: I'll, I'll, I'll share it. Sure. I, I, it's in, it's in my, um, I believe it's in, I have a Google Drive called the Bar Collective. Hmm. And that's my big drive that I made public for just anyone who wants this stuff. Because what I realize at the end of the day is that everyone's freely sharing it underground.

Chris Lowder: Um, so just make that a little more accessible. Yeah, that was the whole mission. And

Jonathan: y um, you know, Chris, I wanted to, um, bring something up before we, um, wrap up the episode because every, it's just flown by and there's so much more that we can talk about. Um, before there was Chris, louder, the TikTok sensation, uh, there was another, uh, social media sensation.

Jonathan: Um, and she goes by the name of Jen. A young woman hired by Spirit Brands to make online videos. And she is, uh, if you guys look her up, all you need to type in is Janae Old Fashioned. Um, yes. And, uh, she is known for her heavy hand, uh, and her sort of matter of fact, uh, laissez fair cocktails. I have a cocktail in front of me in her honor.

Chris Lowder: Wow. Um,

Jonathan: I am holding a pint full of whiskey. Basically, uh, with a little bit of ice in it. Uh, I don't have the bright red Ishino cherry, but, um, Chris, how, um, so. TikTok is insane. And we do, uh, the Cocktail Guru, we do have a TikTok page. It's called the Cocktail Guru Team. Um, but, uh, how did you get into that and how did you meet, um, your, or how did you, you know, vibe with Jenae and her videos?

Jonathan: Because what you started doing was what's called a duet, where the top part of the screen is Janae making her drink, and then you're on the bottom commenting on it as she's making it. And you have. Tens of thousands of views and likes and downloads and all of this stuff. Sure. And it really probably has kind of changed this moment of your life.

Chris Lowder: Yes, uh, certainly. So it's really funny. Um, so, well, gosh, this is like a six hour topic. It, it's actually way deeper than it seems surface level. The surface level is, um, I've got my TikTok channel where I do a few things, one of which is talk about. The business of consulting, bar building and restaurant building, one of which is, uh, do share some of my travels around the world.

Chris Lowder: As I experienced different spirits, I was just in lesco for agave harvest and before that was in northeast Italy to do

Jonathan: that. That was a trip. That was the trip I was supposed to go on with you.

Chris Lowder: I'm, I'm bummed to have missed you. I know. Uh, but let's, let's go back cuz it was really cool. Yeah. And so I share some of that.

Chris Lowder: And then the other thing, which is my personal, personal favorite is I love a really good, bad 10 plus year old, uh, cocktail tutorial video. And the reason that I love a good, bad video is not to take a shot at people learning the craft. Cuz I would never, uh, besmirch someone that's just trying. Make their way in this world.

Chris Lowder: Um, what I love is the sensation that is early proto YouTube. I love, uh, also sometimes the misguided nature of a brand video that has wholly gone awry. And so Jana. In her videos basically. I actually did an hour long interview with Janae last week and we're gonna post it to the channel slowly. Um, but it was live 10,000 people tuned into the live.

Chris Lowder: Whoa. Which is so, so much fun. And so it is. There's 180,000 followers for this content right now that just watched for the duets, which is so much fun. My top one of Jena's old fashioned. Um, cresting 3 million views right now. Geez. Wow. Oh my goodness. Pretty epic. Pretty epic. And the reason why it, it so many people love that content is because of the insane nature of the videos.

Chris Lowder: So what we learned from chatting with Janae, is there a bartender slash actor in LA slash Sacramento, um, a. Approaches her and says, do you want to cast for a thing called LA's hottest bartender? No context about what that is. So she says yes and does a little video, and then they say, great, you've got the gig.

Chris Lowder: And on Tuesday come in and uh, we're gonna have a car pick, not a car pick you up, but you gotta drive out. So drive out. We're gonna meet at 8:00 AM in a creepy one. Story building, not a professional lot. An office building that's like carpeted. It's empty. There's nobody there. There's two guys that bring her in.

Chris Lowder: She doesn't know what she's doing at this point. She's just an actor, right? She comes in, she had closed the restaurant the night before, so she's on four hours, sleep, does her hair, puts on a dress, goes to this creepy building. There's two guys. You go into a carpeted office building where there. One bag of ice, no Jers, uh, and an Excel printout.

Chris Lowder: Who knows where they got it? Of a hundred recipes to do. Day one and a hundred recipes to do. Day two, one bag of ice. Uh, in, in a, like a, a ice machine bucket. Oh my. It's melting. Melting, right. And don't bucket. And whenever they would run out of an ingredient, they would just move to the next ingredient. So the, there's no stakeholder in this situation jena's there for a paycheck.

Chris Lowder: The cameraman has no idea what they're doing. They've just been hired. The people organizing the video shoot aren't present because it turns out that the video shoot is just trying to. Aggregate content for a YouTube service called mahalo.com that was trying to like rival Google and failed so no one cares.

Chris Lowder: Their whole idea was we're gonna put as much, uh, content as possible into YouTube, teaching people different skills, but never thought that the content should be good. Right, so, so what's so weird, it's like this kabuki level insane theater that you're watching is you have Janae, the actor who's there, trying to hold it together and pretend like nothing's wrong.

Chris Lowder: The set, which is insane cuz it's put together by this cameraman that's hired on a day rate. The recipes are insane because they're just some random printout mm-hmm. That no one has ever had these drinks before. Mm-hmm. A drink called like a ghostbuster or a buzz light year and insane. And then she's following the script, but the actions that she's doing and the ingredients don't match the words that she's saying, and the post video edit also don't match.

Chris Lowder: So all the details are wrong. They misspell her name in almost, they spell her name a different way in almost every video because it's such poor attention to detail. And she never tastes the drink because she knows in her. A, it's 9:00 AM B, it's ice. I'm straining with my hand into a garbage can. Yep, that's right.

Chris Lowder: To reuse the ice. Literally.

Jonathan: Literally straining with her

Chris Lowder: hand. Yes. So it's almost like if you've ever seen The Room by Tommy Wiseau, which is like the worst movie that's ever been made and has a whole cult following. In and of itself because there's the movie at Face Value, which is a terrible movie. But then there's the meta value of the more you tease at these details, the funnier and funnier and funnier they get.

Chris Lowder: Right. And so that there's this whole community now that, uh, I'm weirdly the center of together with Jen. Um, who I asked her like, do you regret doing these videos? She was like, actually, the one thing I regret is when they first became a Facebook meme in like 2012. I wish I would've used that to transition into, uh, a career in comedic acting because that's always been her passion.

Chris Lowder: And so send these videos blew up, um, and they're big on TikTok and now she's like revival again. She's been contacted by people that are actually making like serious. Film to do comedy and

Jonathan: so she's, well, that's great because I think I, I, I, I wonder if a lot, I, I'm pretty sure a lot of it is because of what you've been doing with her, because what, what has happened, you know, from about 2012 when those first well, A few years after she did them, it would keep coming up.

Jonathan: People would keep posting her videos and it, and it was people saying how shameful it was and you know, how, how awful this technique is. And it was blasting her. And I'm sure in her mind she's like, I feel so ashamed. Why? I don't want to, I don't want to let anybody know who I am or where I am. But what you've done, Chris, You've brought comedy to it and your se, your point of view, your sense of humor, um, by doing the duet.

Jonathan: And, you know, she'll be, she'll be doing something and then you'll say something like, oh no, Janae, Janae, come on. Don't you go, don't you do that? But you know, you, you have, you have such an endearing quality when you're doing it. It's not. It's not judgmental, it's extremely non-judgmental. It's, um, so

Chris Lowder: she just to, just to quote what she told me in our interview, she said, you know, it's exactly what you had mentioned is the YouTube comments on some of this stuff is really toxic.

Chris Lowder: Right. And the Facebook, I think that's the nature of like circa 20 12, 20 14. Facebook and, uh, I think why a lot of people got turned off from that platform is that there is this kind of like fairly toxic message board culture and a lot of finger pointing and, and it's easy to, to have this kind of negativity.

Chris Lowder: And what's been fun is if you watch the TikTok videos, All of these have like 10,000 plus comments, right? And all of the comments are just people making lighthearted jokes, but not in a way that's like this person's a knucklehead, but more in a way that's just kind of having fun with the character. Of Jenae, like othering that like there's, there's Jenae the real person, but then there's this insane character doing this insane thing.

Chris Lowder: And always my perspective when I watch these videos is to just approach them at face value with a, with a, uh, energy of generosity. Like every video I just reset of like, oh, it's Janae. Like, let's, I'm excited for a new recipe. Right? And then it quickly goes haywire, and you're like, no. You know what

Jonathan: I mean?

Jonathan: Yeah. I, I love it. Um, but um, Chris, before we let you go, because we are, um, running out of time here, I wanted to just ask you one final question. Um, maybe you have the answer for it, uh, or the answer to it, and maybe you don't. What is the trick to TikTok and going viral?

Chris Lowder: Oh boy. The trick to TikTok and going viral, the trick to any social media right now is don't make it about you.

Chris Lowder: If you can check your ego, um, if you can resist the urge to just center yourself. And I know that sounds kind of ironic because it's like your social media page, but if you shift from, I'm here to talk about myself to, I'm here to provide value to. Then you actually totally change the audience dynamic.

Chris Lowder: And I think what, everyone listening to this, I don't care if you're a bar, a bartender, a professional, a per just a, you know, you have no skin in the game, but you just want to grow your own thing. Anyone listening to this, think about your social media channel as a magazine for people who share your interest.

Chris Lowder: So imagine if you put up a post. That is just interviewing like it's just a Humans of New York style interview of somebody in your space that you think is awesome if you were to take the time to do that and shine a light on other people in a way that delivers value and tells the story of the interest, the shared interests of the people that you want to communicate.

Chris Lowder: You will crush it. Um, a great example, right, is this new AI widget came out that everyone is posting AI versions of their own selfies. Guys, you've, you've missed the point, like AI is this, this, uh, society changing technology. Like how about do a little video. Hey, here's how you can use AI to solve a problem, or something like that.

Chris Lowder: But no one's doing that. Everyone's just using AI to post a fancier selfie of themselves, and it's no wonder that they're not. Going viral or getting the traction they want because the content is so self-involved and it's not actually delivering value to the people looking at it.

Jonathan: Right. I, I think it comes from full circle with you, Chris, that um, you know, something that you pointed, uh, touched on earlier is em, empathy and have empath, uh, be empathetic.

Jonathan: It, that's really what, what it sounds like. It's, it's

Chris Lowder: all about, it's the hardest thing to remember,

Jeffrey: words of wisdom from a very wise.

Chris Lowder: Chris,

Jonathan: the empathetic bartender.

Chris Lowder: I'll say, even a broken clock is right twice a day. That's a little bit more accurate. I love it. I

Jonathan: love it. And we'll leave it at that. Chris, you've been an amazing guest.

Jonathan: Thank you so much

Chris Lowder: for joining us. Hey, thanks for your time, gentlemen. Appreciate you. Thanks, Chris. Great to see you.

Jeffrey: Purple Time is brought to you in part by perfect puree of Napa Valley.

Jonathan: Hey, Jonathan, here again. Uh, ladies and gentlemen, you've been listening to the Cocktail Guru Podcast, and it's just about over this episode, but we've got this extra special content that we've been doing every week called Tipple Time, where I make you a little cocktail and I am into who's Into Sangria Out there.

Jonathan: Raise your. Yes, sangria, red sangria, white sangria. Um, one of my pet peeves is just the amount of ingredients that go into a red sangria or a white sangria. And I am all about ease of preparation, uh, making things ahead of time. And that's why what I'm gonna showcase for you today is actually a product from the perfect puria of Napa Valley.

Jonathan: It's their red sangria, which is a blend of different types of juices, passion. Pear strawberry, and it works so well either in a white or a red sangria. Now it is called red sangria, but you can add white wine to it. It will still be red in color. Um, and what I'm gonna do is just kind of go through a little taste of the actual product itself and then add some wine to it and let's see how it tastes.

Jonathan: So, first of all, that this color, if you can't see it, it's, it's a really nice, definitely a red wine color, like a cloudy red wine. And the nose, you get this tropical note, passion. Definitely some passion for, I, I smell the strawberry. Let me just give it a taste. Mm. It's got a perfect mix of tartness and sweetness, which I like, and a little bit of, um, astringency, kind of like wine.

Jonathan: So I, I can tell that this will work really well with the tasting notes of wine. And if you're working in a bar or restaurant, what I love is you can use wine that's about to turn and you can add it to a big batch. And this is great. You could pre-make it ahead of time. Now I've got a little bit of, um, white port here, which I love in Sangria's.

Jonathan: And I'm just gonna add some white port to my wine glass here. And then a little bit more red sangria mix. And I'm gonna give it a little taste. Oh yeah, I get that port in the nose, which is really nice. You know, a little bit of, um, Grape and leechy and pear. Hmm. Oh yeah. It, it, it just goes down really easily, guys.

Jonathan: Um, and you could serve it over ice. You could even serve it room temperature. You batch it ahead of time or you stick it in the fridge and then you take it out when you're having a little party, a little get together, a little gathering. This is a really great red sang, angry and Made with the perfect period of Napa Valley and be creative.

Jonathan: That's really what I'm about. That's what they're all about. Red wine, white wine, you can add spirit to it, rum, even whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila, mezcal. The possibilities are endless, and that's really what I love about making cocktails and about mixology in general. And hopefully you've enjoyed this little, uh, segment.

Jonathan: We call Tipple Time. And until next time, keep experimenting everyone. Cheers.

Jeffrey: Time is brought to you in part by perfect puree of Napa Valley.

Chris Lowder: On

Jeffrey: the next Cocktail Guru podcast, I see that one of your cocktails was inspired

Chris Lowder: by

Jonathan: Beatles.

Chris Lowder: Huge fan of B RDAs. So Abbey Road, Abbey Road Boulevard, strawberry Fields,

Jonathan: you know? Right. Get, get kind of witty. Oh yeah.

Chris Lowder: Yeah. Titles too. Yes. Strawberry Fields

Jeffrey: Ice Cubes. How could We Forget Ice Cubes? Can't Forget Ice on the next Cocktail Guru podcast.

Jeffrey: That does it for today's show. If you enjoy what we do, please rate, review, and subscribe to the podcast. You can also support the show with a small monthly donation to help sustain future episodes. Just click on the donate button at the top of our website and choose your donation amount. To learn more about our guests, visit

Chris Lowder: www dot the Cocktail Guru podcast.

Jeffrey: Dot com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or

Jonathan: TikTok. The Cocktail Guru Podcast is produced by First Real Entertainment and distributed by Eats drinks tv, a service of the Center for Culinary Culture, home of the Cocktail collection, and is available via anchor Spotify. Google, Amazon, and wherever you listen to your favorite shows.

Chris LowderProfile Photo

Chris Lowder


Chris Lowder, Co-founder of Lowder-Tascarella Hospitality (LTH), is one of the world’s most sought-after talents in corporate and multi-venue luxury bar consulting. Chris has successfully built globally recognized beverage programs in some of the world’s most challenging markets, including China, South Korea and New York. Chris and his team at LTH get results for their clients by balancing three critical metrics: The profitability and cash-flow priorities of key stakeholders; the hospitality and best-in-class product expectations of international VIP guests; and the on-the-ground realities of procurement, logistics and staff training at each local venue.

Chris’s happy clients include Four Seasons Hotels, Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), Swire Hotels, Accor Hotels China, Aman Hotels, Capella Hotels, Starbucks China, DisneyLand China, AB InBev USA, AB InBev China, Vacheron Constantin, Bvlgari China, Holland-America Cruise Lines, and Givaudan Flavours. During his nearly 5-year tenure with Proof & Company, Proof’s consulting team placed at least 2-3 creative projects in the World's 50 Best Bars every year, and 5-8 creative projects in Asia’s 50 Best Bars every year. No other beverage consulting team on Earth has ever achieved this level of sustained, consolidated excellence.

An expert in Chinese business culture and management, Chris has lived in Mainland China for more than seven years, going back to his time as a scholarship student at Beijing’s prestigious BLCU Translation Academy. After graduation, Chris opened and directed the technical translation department at China Monitor, an independent agency processing proprietary Chinese government analysis on 40 sectors of China’s industrial economy. Chris speaks fluent Mandarin and Japanese, and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in East Asian Studies.

Between tours in China, Chris developed an international reputation as an authority on modern bars and cocktail culture during a twelve-year career in food and beverage operations, including bar management roles in Four Seasons Hotel, Seoul and NoMad Hotel, New York. These venues were both ranked among the World’s Best Bars during Chris’s tenure. Chris was nominated in 2018 and 2020 for Best Global Bar Mentor at Tales of the Cocktail, and in 2020 was named one of the 100 most influential figures in the global bar industry by Drinks International.