In 2018, PUNCH launched the Bartender in Residence (BIR) program with a simple mission: Elevate and amplify rising talent in the bartending community. The program began as a series of small events held at the PUNCH test bar allowing BIR talent to connect with media, fellow bartenders and select members of the PUNCH audience in an intimate setting. What it’s evolved into is an ever-growing family of bartenders that informs the editorial vision at PUNCH and collectively pushes the industry forward.
The Class of 2021 represents a bold, grounded, creative future for bartending. Among the nine members are drink-makers for whom a position behind the bar has been a lifelong goal; for others, the allure of cocktail creation drew them away from careers in nonprofits, the arts or fashion. In almost every case, a passion for drink-making is matched by an equally strong urge to catalyze change within the industry and beyond. Among the 2021 cohort are authors and activists who leverage their front-of-house positions in service of greater representation and equality.
Behind the bar, each member of the Class of 2021 can sling a drink as delicious as it is cleverly conceived. Within familiar blueprints, expect transportive flavors, unlikely infusions and a whole lot of personality. This is what the future of bartending looks like.
With the generous support of The Blend, an industry platform by Beam Suntory, the 2021 Bartenders in Residence will receive a $2,000 creative development grant to assist their ongoing growth, exploration and creativity behind the bar and beyond. A special thanks to our additional partners, Fever-Tree and ReserveBar, for their support of the program, sustaining the next generation of industry leaders. Here, now, meet the Class of 2021.
Caer MaikoAustin, TX
Sam MillerSan Francisco, CA
Sam Miller began his hospitality career as a dishwasher more than a decade ago at a Samurai Sam’s, a Japanese chain restaurant outside Salt Lake City. In the years since, he’s bartended across the West, from Park City to Honolulu, San Francisco to Denver, driven by a mission to secure greater representation for BIPOC in the industry.Read More →
Leanne FavreBrooklyn, NY
As an architecture student in college, Leanne Favre discovered that she enjoyed occupying designed spaces more than designing them herself. But a look at the complex, layered structure of her drinks—jerk spice paired with aged rum, kola syrup, citrus and soda, for example—held together by a certain rigorousness and inherent understanding of technique reveals an architecture of its own.Read More →
Parker LuthmanProvidence, RI
Parker Luthman’s cocktails bear the same markings as their classic Golden Age counterparts. That is, the radical mashup of cultures that characterized the Manhattan (American whiskey and Italian vermouth) or Martini (English gin and French vermouth) at the time of their creation is reflected in Luthman’s classics-in-waiting, which marry French gin with miso-ginger syrup, or Cognac with five-spice blend. The Korean American bartender simply recasts cocktails into the role they’ve historically excelled in: a melting pot of places, techniques and flavors, one capable of telling his own particular story.Read More →
Milo and Miguel SalehiSan Francisco, CA
“My career as a bartender has always been in lockstep with my twin brother Miguel,” explains Milo Salehi. “My story is really our story.” As cliché as that may sound, for the Salehi brothers, it’s more than just a platitude. For the past 10 years, their careers have developed in tandem, beginning at age 20 when the two University of South Carolina students responded to a Craigslist ad for a barback position at a local Columbia bar.Read More →
Eric SimmonsChicago, IL
“I didn’t want to work at a steakhouse,” says Eric Simmons, who oversees the bar program at Maple & Ash, one of Chicago’s most opulent steakhouses. To him, steakhouse bar programs were categorically uncool, known for serving “Chocolate Martinis with chocolate-covered strawberries.” After initially rejecting a job offer from Maple & Ash, Simmons reconsidered. Rather than write them off entirely, he saw an opportunity to rethink what a steakhouse cocktail could be.Read More →
Sam KileyNew Orleans, LA
With her place-driven recipes, Sam Kiley aims to create drinks capable of drawing in novices and seasoned cocktail enthusiasts in equal measure. “I want to bring people in who are on the cusp of discovering their love for cocktails, and challenge those that think they have found their favorite,” says the New Orleans–based bartender.Read More →
Hayley WilsonPortland, ME
Since moving to Portland, Maine, from Boston three years ago, Hayley Wilson’s goal had been to bartend at Portland Hunt + Alpine Club, a Scandinavian-inspired bar owned by husband-and-wife team Andrew and Briana Volk. “I was asking all my friends and coworkers, ‘Where is the place to work?’” says Wilson. “They all said ‘Hunt + Alpine. That’s where you want to be.’” In the years since, she’s developed a style that Briana Volk describes as “pulling from the classics but adding a kind of punk-meets-tropical edge to them.”Read More →