Aug. 11, 2022

TCGP Season 1 Finale: Part II (EP 24)

On this episode of THE COCKTAIL GURU PODCAST, Part Two of a two-episode season finale captured live at the 20th annual Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans, hosts Jonathan & Jeffrey Pogash dig deep and dig delicious at Loa Bar, inside the International House Hotel, with bar chef Abigail Gullo and some of the hospitality industry's most dynamic movers, shakers, and stirrers, including Bodega Lustau's Steven Dragun, legendary restaurateur Dickie Brennan, whiskey wizard Dave Schmier, tequila entrepreneurs Adam Millman & Daniel Neeson, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey's Gillian Murphy, and Spirited Hive's Jack Espy. Brought to you Bodega Lustau, DE-NADA Tequila, Monin Gourmet Syrups, Perfect Purée of Napa Valley, Proof & Wood Ventures, Spirited Hive, and Tullamore D.E.W.


On this episode of THE COCKTAIL GURU PODCAST, Part Two of a two-episode season finale captured live at the 20th annual Tales of the Cocktail conference in New Orleans, hosts Jonathan & Jeffrey Pogash dig deep and dig delicious at Loa Bar, inside the International House Hotel, with bar chef Abigail Gullo and some of the hospitality industry's most dynamic movers, shakers, and stirrers, including Bodega Lustau's Steven Dragun, legendary restaurateur Dickie Brennan, whiskey wizard Dave Schmier, tequila entrepreneurs Adam Millman & Daniel Neeson, Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey's Gillian Murphy, and Spirited Hive's Jack Espy. Brought to you Bodega Lustau, DE-NADA Tequila, Monin Gourmet Syrups, Perfect Purée of Napa Valley, Proof & Wood Ventures, Spirited Hive, and Tullamore D.E.W.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION & FURTHER READING

Steven Dragun

Dickie Brennan

Dave Schmier

Adam Millman & Daniel Neeson

Gillian Murphy

Jack Espy

THE COCKTAIL GURU PODCAST is produced by 1st Reel Entertainment and distributed by EatsDrinksTV, a service of the Center for Culinary Culture—Home of The Cocktail Collection, and is available wherever fine podcasts can be heard. The Center for Culinary Culture—Telling the Story of Food & Drink…One Taste at a Time.

 

Check out the full episode show notes at TheCocktailGuruPodcast.com

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Gillian Murphy Profile Photo

Gillian Murphy

Ms

A native of Cork, Ireland (the “real capital” as locals refer to it), Gillian Murphy is the U.S. Ambassador for Tullamore D.E.W. Gillian studied at the University College Cork where she fully immersed herself in the rich traditions of her home country, including taking all her classes in Gaelic, the traditional Irish language. It was during this time when she discovered Tullamore D.E.W. Irish whiskey and developed a passion for the cocktail and spirits industry.

Upon graduation, Gillian got the opportunity of a life time to join the brand ambassador trainee program with Tullamore D.E.W. in the U.S. She packed her bags and moved to South Florida to immerse herself in the world of Irish whiskey, and develop her skills as a local ambassador, driving brand awareness and sales across the state. A year and a half later, Gillian left the U.S. and moved to London to expand her sales career with William Grant in the Global Travel Retail department.

In 2018, Gillian moved back stateside to Chicago, where she currently resides full time as the Tullamore D.E.W. Ambassador. She is responsible for engaging directly with consumers, media and the trade, educating all about the exciting world of Tullamore D.E.W.

Steven Dragun Profile Photo

Steven Dragun

National Brand Ambassador

Steven entered the beverage industry in 2008 after he completed graduate studies at Northwestern University. As a musician, Steven found that being a bartender gave him the flexibility he needed to succeed as a saxophonist and music educator throughout Chicago. After moving to New York City in 2013, his skills and love for the cocktail fully developed, which led him to the cocktail competition scene where he garnered numerous awards and recognitions. Having previously worked for New York Distilling Co. and Angel’s Envy, Steven is currently National Brand Ambassador for the House of Lustau and is a certified Sherry Educator through the Consejo Regulador in Jerez de la Frontera, Spain.

Dave Schmier Profile Photo

Dave Schmier

owner

ABOUT PROOF & WOOD VENTURES, INC.

At Proof & Wood Ventures, Inc., we invest in and develop spirits brands, and age our own spirits. Our core business is sourcing and bottling fine American whiskies, but we also import other high-quality spirits from around the world that were not available in the US previously. Founder Dave Schmier is delighted to be able to create both cocktail-friendly bottlings for value-focused bartenders and high-end collectors’ editions for connoisseurs.

“Our name comes from the two things we control as a blender and finisher of fine spirits, and the two things that are incredibly important to any spirit’s flavor: the proof it’s bottled at, and the wood of the barrel we age it in,” Schmier says. “That is who we are.”

ABOUT DAVE SCHMIER

Dave Schmier has a long history of marketing and selling spirits. He was Founder & CEO of boutique beverage marketing agency Idea Foundation, winner of Reggie Awards for its work with Absolut Vodka and Alizé. Schmier’s first venture into actually creating spirits was as owner of drinks consultancy Dynamic Beverages, LLC, which launched Orange V—one of the first flavored vodkas to use a certified-organic base spirit—in 2003. In 2020, its success (or lack thereof) led Schmier to co-found Bardstown Barrel Selections, a merchant of carefully selected American whiskies. The company’s booming hit, Redemption Rye Whiskey, grew to sell 20,000 cases per year in less than five years and resulted in the brand's acquisition by industry giant Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits in 2015.

With his years of experience and personal connections at distilleries, barrel makers, and more, Schmier didn’t want to leave an industry he’d grown to love, so he founded Proof & Wood Ventures in 2015. “I didn’t want to just sit back after BBS and Redemption Rye,” he says. “So I started a company to source not only great American whiskies but also other amazing booze from all over the globe.”

Schmier also founded the Independent Spirits Expo in 2005. The convention for small, craft liquor-makers, distributors, bartenders, and others now holds annual events in Chicago, New York, and Las Vegas.

Jack Espy Profile Photo

Jack Espy

Founder & CEO

Born in Denver, Colorado, and raised in Santa Barbara, California, Jack Espy currently splits his time between Nashville, Tennessee, and New York City. He has a real estate finance background, but amidst a global pandemic, a few too many homemade quarantine cocktails became a sticky—literally!—situation. He came out of quarantine with an idea inspired by many nights concocting honey-based drinks for his “hive” and embarked on a new career as the founder of Spirited Hive. Sparked by a desire to not return to the world of finance, he's poured his energy (and life savings) into creating a new line of canned cocktails, all sweetened with a bit of honey.

Abigail Gullo Profile Photo

Abigail Gullo

Creative Director

Abigail Gullo, a hospitality professional with over a decade in the beverage industry, got her start making neighborhood craft cocktails at the innovative bars of turn of 21st century New York City. Since then, she has created drinks at award-winning restaurants from New Orleans to Seattle, from Rome to Athens and Puerto Rico. Named Bartender of the Year many times, she concocted libations for the Today Show and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. She co-hosts the New Orleans focused Podcast, Drink & Learn and is Creative Director at Loa Bar and the International House Hotel in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Dickie Brennan Profile Photo

Dickie Brennan

Restaurant(s) Owner

Born in 1960, Dickie Brennan grew up in a restaurant family and lived a block away from Commander’s Palace, when his father Dick Sr., his aunts Adelaide, Ella, and Dottie, and his uncle John bought Commander’s Palace. As a teenager, he started working in the kitchen with Commander’s chef, Paul Prudhomme, who used to admonish him “don’t take shortcuts!”

Dickie went to LSU (because all his friends went there) to study business administration. He graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans with a degree in finance. He worked at Commander’s Palace from 1975 to 1983, helped open Mr. B’s Bistro in the French Quarter in 1979, and was a chef apprentice in the summer of 1980 at Delmonico’s in Mexico City. In 1983, he apprenticed under Great Chef Larry Forgione at his American Place restaurant in New York City. He then went to France as a chef apprentice at Au Quay d’Orsay, Gérard Besson, Le Chiberta, La Marée, Tour d’ Argent, and, with Chef Michel del Burgo, at Taillevent. His ego survived the sometimes harsh French culinary tutelage with ease.

By 1986, he became general manager of the family’s “Brennan’s of Houston.” In 1990, he moved back to New Orleans to open Palace Café on Canal Street. In 1992, Great Chefs began producing the Louisiana New Garde television series, featuring the next generation of New Orleans chefs. His cooking philosophy is “we’ll take an idea—and we’ll make it us.”

Following Palace Café, Dickie went on to open three additional restaurants in the New Orleans French Quarter: Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Bourbon House on Bourbon Street, and Tableau on Jackson Square at Le Petit Théâtre Du Vieux Carré.

Adam Millman Profile Photo

Adam Millman

Co-Founder & CEO of DE-NADA Tequila

Born and raised in New York, Adam Millman, Co-Founder & CEO of DE-NADA Tequila, is a self-taught musician. After graduating from Tulane University with a BS in management, he followed this passion to work for American record label 300 Entertainment and then for Electric Feel Management. Adam had been drawn to companies with values mirroring his own: the core of 300 Entertainment is independence, very much based on “the freedom to create. The freedom to be an entrepreneur. The freedom to write [one’s] own future,” while Electric Feel positions itself “at the epicenter” of music, brands, and culture.

As so often happens in life, Adam’s formative years and early career set him on this entrepreneurial path to co-found DE-NADA Additive Free Tequila with his good friend Danny Neeson. The two met during their freshman year at Tulane, in a class called “Introduction to Creative Industries.” By sophomore year, Millman became Co-Owner & CFO of Neeson’s active-wear clothing line, Pine Outfitters, which focused on selling shirts made from recycled plastic water bottles. Following its mission “to promote the environment as both a playground and a priority,” for every product purchased a tree was planted through the National Forest Foundation.

In their junior year, the duo set their sights on tequila, and just three years later Adam left the music industry to focus on DE-NADA, which reflects every strand of Millman’s professional life. Clearly the freedom to create, the freedom to be an entrepreneur, and the freedom to write one’s own future are central to DE-NADA, a privately-owned brand competing successfully against multinationals. Freedom is also reflected in DE-NADA’s freedom from artifice, as it is one of only 61 Confirmed Additive Free Tequilas on the US market. Calling to mind the positioning of Electric Feel, DE-NADA sits at the confluence of brand, native Mexican culture (as it is crafted at the fifth generation Vivanco family distillery in Jalisco), and music, as master distiller César Vivanco blasts classical music to optimize sugar conversion during fermentation. Sustainability is another unifying thread—the paper for DE-NADA’s labels, for example, are made of recycled agave fibers.

Now a resident of New York City, Millman enjoys playing piano, tennis, and spending time with his friends.

Daniel Neeson Profile Photo

Daniel Neeson

Co-Founder & President of DE-NADA Tequila

Born and raised in Millbrook, New York, Danny Neeson, Co-Founder & President of DE-NADA Tequila, attended Tulane University, earning a degree in theatre, as well as a certification in digital media. His entrepreneurial bent, as did a recurring theme of sustainability, became clear during this time. During Neeson’s freshman year, he opened Willowglen Landscaping and established Pine Outfitters, an active-wear clothing line which focused on shirts made from recycled plastic water bottles. Following its mission “to promote the environment as both a playground and a priority,” for every product purchased a tree was planted through the National Forest Foundation. Rather than through bricks and mortar or traditional advertising, the brand was fueled by e-commerce and social media. Also during his freshman year, Neeson met Adam Millman—tellingly in a class called “Introduction to Creative Industries.” The two became fast friends, and in their sophomore year, Millman joined Pine Outfitters as Co-Owner & CFO. Between sophomore and junior years, Neeson worked for Silo Ridge Field Club, “part of an international group of luxury communities designed to capture the spirit of the land while providing an exceptional lifestyle and recreational options.”

In their junior year, the duo put their entrepreneurial focus on tequila, and just three years later DE-NADA Additive Free Tequila became reality. Coming full-circle, all-natural and additive free DE-NADA reflects Neeson’s love of the outdoors; its early success was driven by e-commerce and social media channels; and it certainly provides exceptional lifestyle and recreational opportunities.

Now a resident of New York City, in his spare time Neeson enjoys sports, cooking, movies, travel, being outdoors, and, most of all, spending time with his friends, family, and Winnie, his Silver Labrador Retriever.