Dec. 9, 2021

Speak Easy with Jason Kosmas (THE COCKTAIL GURU PODCAST EP 6)

On this episode of THE COCKTAIL GURU PODCAST, brought to you by Marie Brizard, celebrated bartender and author Jason Kosmas, Co-Founder of the now-legendary Employees Only and Macao Trading Company, discusses his role in the craft cocktail renaissance and the challenges and rewards of being a serial entrepreneur with hosts Jonathan & Jeffrey Pogash.

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.


Jason Kosmas is an American bartender, writer, consultant, and entrepreneur. He was first exposed to the beverage industry while an art student at Rutgers University in his home state of New Jersey. He picked up a college job as a barback and quickly rose through the ranks to become a bartender. Kosmas realized his passion was in the art of the cocktail and relocated to New York, where he gained experience as a bartender at famed Tavern on the Green.

Kosmas graduated to Soviet-themed Pravda, where he thrived under the mentorship of Dale “King Cocktail” DeGroff. In 2001, Kosmas was named Bar Manager of Pravda. Under his leadership, in 2004, Pravda earned the designation of “Best Martini Bar” by Time Out New York. It was also during his tenure that he developed lasting relationships with four of his co-workers: Igor Hadzismajlovic, Henry LaFargue, and Dushan Zaric.

In 2004, Kosmas left Pravda to found Employees Only with Hadzismajlovic, LaFargue, Zaric, and restaurateur Bill Gilroy. Their West Village, Prohibition-style bar has gained acclaim as one of Drinks International’s “World’s 50 Best Bars” a record-breaking eight consecutive times. Employees Only has also earned Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards for “Best American Bar Team,” “World’s Best Cocktail Bar,” and “World’s Best Drink Selection.”

In 2012, Kosmas co-founded The 86 Co., a liquor brand that collaborates with craft distillers and distilleries to create premium spirits for the bartending industry. In 2016, Kosmas left New York to open a satellite Employees Only location in Austin, Texas.

Jason is the co-author of You Didn’t Hear It From Us, as well as the seminal cocktail book Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined with Employees Only co-owner Dushan Zaric.




"How to Get Served in a Crowded Bar: An Interview With Jason Kosmas" - Allure (August 22, 2007) (

Books (with Dushan Zaric)

Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined (2010) (

You Didn't Hear It From Us: Two Bartenders Serve Women the Truth About Men, Making an Impression, and Getting What You Want (2006) (

Cocktail Recipes

Selected Recipes from the Fine Cooking Archives (

Selected Recipes from the Punch Archives (