The Modern Mixologist
Tony Abou-Ganim is widely regarded as one of the pioneering and leading bar professionals in the world. He has made dozens of national TV appearances on shows including TODAY, Iron Chef America, Good Morning America, CBS This Morning, CNBC, Fox News and more. Abou-Ganim is the author of The Modern Mixologist: Contemporary Classic Cocktails (Agate, 2010) which offers readers an in-depth look into spirits and ingredients available to today’s mixologist, both professional and amateur alike; and Vodka Distilled: The Modern Mixologist on Vodka and Vodka Cocktails (Agate, 2013) a one-of-a-kind resource that sets the standard in defining and understanding the world’s most consumed spirit. Abou-Ganim also has a DVD to his credit, Modern Mixology: Making Great Cocktails at Home, and hosted the Fine Living program Raising the Bar: America’s Best Bar Chefs. His custom-designed line of Modern Mixologist bar tools was released in the summer of 2013 and provides the professional and amateur cocktail enthusiast the best tools of the trade. Abou-Ganim has also won three Iron Chef America competitions; pairing cocktails with Iron Chef Mario Batali; with Iron Chef Jose Garces and most recently with challenger Chef Sean McClain. Books, tools and more at www.modernmixologist.com.
Abou-Ganim grew up in the bar business, learning the craft from his cousin Helen David at the Brass Rail Bar in Port Huron, Michigan. His initial introduction to the business was steeped in the tradition of classic cocktails and professional barmanship, teaching him the necessary steps to become a leader in the beverage industry. After graduating from college, Abou-Ganim further developed an appreciation for a hand-crafted cocktail using only the freshest ingredients while working at Jack Slick’s Balboa Café and then during the opening of “Harry Denton’s,” a legendary hangout in Fog City. In 1993 he moved to New York City and took a position as the opening bartender at Po, Mario Batali’s first restaurant.
Tony later returned to San Francisco to open Harry Denton’s Starlight Room atop the Sir Francis Drake Hotel and it was here that he developed his first specialty cocktail menu featuring several of his original cocktail recipes including the Sunsplash, Starlight and his most famous of them all, the Cable Car.
In 1998, Abou-Ganim was selected by Steve Wynn to develop the cocktail program at Bellagio Las Vegas. He not only implemented his philosophy of bartending and drink preparation, stressing both quality ingredients and proper technique, but also created several original cocktails for the resorts 22 bars. In 2002 he won the Bacardi Martini World Grand Prix – one of only two Americans to ever win this title.
Managing Partner, EdiPure
Dan Anglin is managing partner of EdiPure brands, a leader in marijuana infused product manufacturing and is also a co-owner of 1859, a premiere dispensary in Black Hawk, Colorado. Anglin has a long history of legislative affairs, having served as a legislative analyst in both the Arizona State Legislature, and the Colorado General Assembly. His professional lobbying career began at the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, and then opening his own firm, Anglin Public Affairs in 2011.
Dan is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps, having served during Desert Shield / Desert Storm. A family man, Dan has been married for 18 years and is the proud father of two boys. When he’s not working hard on marijuana issues, he enjoys spending his time boating.
Founder and CEO, WhistlePig Whiskey
Raj Bhakta’s upbringing as a first generation American in an entrepreneurial Indian-Irish family engendered a great love of country and interest in business. His career began in investment banking in New York City. He then moved onto building other businesses in automobile industry and real estate. Bhakta has appeared as a politics and current events commentator on major cable news networks, including Fox News, CNN and MSNBC in addition to having participated in one of NBC’s highest-ever rating shows, The Apprentice, in 2005.
In his political career, Bhakta won the Republican Party’s endorsement for the United States House of Representatives in Pennsylvania’s 13th congressional district in 2006. He ran a highly unconventional campaign. Frustrated by the porous U.S.–Mexico border control, Bhakta illustrated the haplessness of current policy by crossing the border along the Rio Grande atop an elephant with a six-piece mariachi band near a U.S. Border Security checkpoint. His dramatic demonstration captured both domestic and international attention. During this campaign, Bhakta raised more money independently than any GOP candidate in the nation and led the Republican ticket for his district. Though unable to unseat his well-financed incumbent opponent in an anti-GOP cycle, he received more than 74,000 votes of 180,000 cast.
Bhakta is now simultaneously returning to his entrepreneurial roots and following in the footsteps of George Washington (a legendary rye producer, unbeknown to most) with the launch of WhistlePig and the GoAmericaGo Foundation. His “Cheers to America” campaign will launch in July 2012, whereby $1 per bottle will be donated to GoAmericaGo to foster entrepreneurship and the American spirit.
Bhakta holds a B.S. in Economics and a B.A. in History from Boston College. He currently splits his time between New York City and his farm in Shoreham, Vermont with his two pet Kune Kune* pigs.
*The kunekune (ˈkuːnikuːni/ koo-nee-koo-nee)] is a small breed of domestic pig from New Zealand. Kunekune are hairy, and have a dumpy build and can have wattles (or piri piri) hanging from their lower jaw. Color ranges include black and white, ginger, cream, gold-tip, black, brown and tri-colored. They have a placid, friendly nature and, like the pot-bellied pig, are now often kept as pets.
Global Brand Ambassador
Head of Beverage Programs
Currently Jacques is the Bar, Cocktail & Spirit Specialist for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants’ 60 plus restaurants and bars throughout the country, overseeing the company’s individual and national spirits menus as well as consulting on bar concepts. Jacques has also been selected to be on the Board of Advisors for Liquor.com and is the National Brand Ambassador for Partida Tequila.
South African native Jacques Bezuidenhout began bartending there nearly 20 years ago and continued to do so in London and in San Francisco where he relocated in 1998. He has been voted Best Bartender in San Francisco by Anthony Dias Blue and is a judge in Ultimate Spirits Competition run by Paul Pacult and has also judged in the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Under the direction of Bezuidenhout and Julio Bermejo, the acclaimed Tres Agaves in San Francisco won the “Spirits Restaurant of the Year” award from Santé magazine in 2006. He also helped launch the San Francisco chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild, one of the nation’s most active chapters, and has served as a brand ambassador for Plymouth Gin and Partida Tequila. In recognition of his work, he was named best American brand ambassador at the 2011 Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Awards.
Director, Office of Impaired Driving & Occupant Protection
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Mike Brown currently serves as the Director of the Office of Impaired Driving and Occupant Protection at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. This office is responsible for coordinating the nation’s policy and programs concerning impaired driving prevention activities and strategies to improve occupant protection which includes child passenger protection distracted driving behavior. The office is involved in developing public policy in these areas and managing demonstration projects designed to evaluate improvements in traffic safety.
He also served as the Deputy Secretary for Public Safety at California’s Business, Transportation, and Housing Agency. As such, he advised the Agency Secretary and the Administration on public safety issues involving the Agency and its departments. He has worked on the state’s strategic highway safety plans, emergency planning, homeland security, goods movement activities and other issues in this capacity.
Prior to this assignment, Mike Brown served as the Commissioner of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) where he was responsible for the operations of one of the largest law enforcement agencies in the nation for over three years. The CHP employed 7,600 uniformed and 3,200 civilian employees and had a budget of $1.8 billion during his tenure. This capped a thirty one year career within the CHP where he was assigned a myriad of commands and responsibilities all over California.
Mike Brown has participated in a number of state and national task forces on such issues as police pursuits, homeland security, traffic safety, emergency planning, enforcement technology, and federal transportation issues. He has also served as an associate professor at California State University, Sacramento.
Mike Brown is a graduate of the California State University, Sacramento with a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice. He has a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from California State University, Los Angeles, and one in Management from Cal Poly, Pomona. He is a graduate of the California Peace Officers Standards and Training Command College and the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Academy and National Executive Institute
BarMagic of Las Vegas
Tobin is owner of BarMagic of Las Vegas, a hospitality design &
consulting firm established in 1997 that specializes in concept
development, bar design, training and operations.
BarMagic’s portfolio of clients include MGM Mirage, Marriott/Ritz
Carlton, Ace Hotel, Caesars Palace, PURE Management, Gaylord Hotels,
Isle of Capri Casinos, CSX Hotels and more.
Tobin’s bartending and consulting career spans 26 years and includes 6
national bartending titles, 15 appearances in the finals of international
bartending championships as well as appearances on Throwdown with
Bobby Flay, Spike TV’s Bar Rescue, and the Food Network Challenge.
Called “a shot of adrenaline” by the New York Times, Tobin specializes
in bar design and speaks on the subject all around the world. Also to his
cat. He is the mind behind the world’s first series of pop-up speakeasies
(Social Mixology) that appeared in New York, Miami, New Orleans,
Aspen, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Las Vegas. Tobin grew
up in Rochester, NY where he began his career before tending bar in
Manhattan, Washington DC, and Las Vegas.
His company’s work has won a slew of accredited awards including Best
Hotel Bar in Las Vegas (2005), Best Lounge in Las Vegas (2005), Best
Cocktails (2005, 2007, 2009, 2010), and Best Hotel Opening
(hotelchatter.com, 2011). Tobin has appeared on ABC, NBC, USA, E!,
A&E, Food Network, Travel Channel, Spike, Bravo, and Discovery. For
more information, visit www.barmagic.com.
Cocktail and Spirits Writer
Camper English is an international cocktails and spirits writer, speaker, and consultant based in San Francisco. He is a regular contributor to Details.com, Whisky Advocate, and Departures.com, and is the contributing drinks editor at Saveur. He has also written for publications including Wired, TIME, PopularScience.com, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, the San Francisco Chronicle, Fine Cooking, and many others. Camper travels extensively to increase his expertise, having visited over 120 distilleries, blending houses, and bodegas in more than twenty countries, has judged cocktail contests on three continents, and has stopped into a cocktail bar or two along the way. He is a frequent speaker at cocktail conventions and has given seminars at Tales of the Cocktail, Portland Cocktail Week, Toronto Cocktail Week, Bar Convent Berlin, the Manhattan Cocktail Classic, and he once gave a talk about ice in Iceland. He was the winner of the Best Cocktail Writing award at Tales of the Cocktail 2011, and a recipient of the Legends Award at San Francisco Cocktail Week in 2012. He is a member of the United States Bartenders’ Guild and has passed the B.A.R. 5-day certification.
Camper’s own website, Alcademics.com, takes a scientific approach to the study of cocktails and spirits. His research on dehydrated liqueurs, international sugars, and particularly on making clear ice has been put to practical use at many bars around the world. Camper earned a degree in physics from Boston University and worked both as a research assistant and as a software engineer before becoming a writer.
Washington State Liquor Control Board
Rick is the Agency Director of the Washington State Liquor Control Board. Rick has been with the Liquor Control Board since 1997. During Rick’s career with LCB he has also held the positions of Legislative and Tribal Liaison, Policy Director and Deputy Director. Prior to joining the Liquor Control Board, Rick served 13 years as a staff member for the Washington State Legislature, including five years with the Washington State Senate and eight years with the state House. His legislative assignments included Policy Analyst in the state Senate, House of Representatives Staff Director, and adviser to House and Senate leadership.
Rick is the immediate past President of the National Conference of State Liquor Administrators (NCSLA).
Founder and Master Blender
Thomas Maas created and developed one of the most successful new products in the spirits business: RumChata and is a managing member of Agave Loco, LLC. RumChata is a brand that has climbed to the number 9 top selling liqueur in the U.S. in just 5 years of existence.
Maas is accomplished in beverage alcohol across a variety of product categories, as well as, food products through licensing programs on various brands. He has been involved in the planning and development of 9 alcoholic beverage products that have reached over $25 million in annual retail sales.
Before creating RumChata, Maas held various positions at Jim Beam Brands Co. including VP-Sales and Marketing-U.S. and the VP-Global Brand Management-Global. He has also worked for Hiram Walker and Sons, Inc. and Jack Daniel Distillery. He received his bachelor’s degree at University of Wisconsin-Madison and his MBA at DePaul University in Chicago.
Chairman & CEO
The Charmer Sunbelt Group
Charlie Merinoff is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Charmer Sunbelt Group (CSG), one of the nation’s leading distributors of fine wines and spirits. Following his graduation from the University of Wisconsin in 1980, Charles joined the family’s business, holding various positions in operations, purchasing and sales. In 1991, Charlie was named President of Charmer Industries, the family’s Metro New York business. In 1994, the family acquired Sunbelt Beverage Corporation, then operating distributorships in several Eastern states. The Sunbelt Beverage Corporation continued to expand through acquisitions and partnerships, and in 1997 the wholesale companies in which the family had an interest became known as The Charmer Sunbelt Group. In 2011, he was named Chairman of the Board of The Charmer Sunbelt Group.
Charlie devotes a significant amount of time and resources to charitable organizations. He has been a member of the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation since 1999, and is currently its Treasurer and an active member of its Board of Directors. Additionally, Charlie sits on the Board of Trustees of the Culinary Institute of America, the Board of Directors of the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, the Board of Trustees of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health Systems and the Executive Committee of Lenox Hill Hospital. Charlie has been honored over the years by the Boys Town of Italy, the Boy Scouts of America, the UJA-Federation of New York and the American Cancer Society. Charlie spearheads the annual “Wine and Wishes” tasting and auction, which has raised over $5.5 million for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Metro New York over the past 11 years. He is the immediate Past Chairman of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers Association of America (WSWA).
Executive Vice President
Best Brands, Inc.
Mr. Moses currently serves as the Executive Vice President at Best Brands Incorporated – a wholesale wine and spirits distribution & import company. Ryan began his career with General Electric in their Financial Management Program in Philadelphia, PA and attend GE’s Crotonville leadership training. Mr. Moses graduated magna cum laude with a BS in Management and Finance from A.B. Freeman School of Business at Tulane University where he served as Student Body President. He currently serves on the board of Council for Leadership Development for the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America and the Phoenix Club of Nashville. He also is faculty and a board member of the W.O. Smith Music School, and is a Big Brother for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee.
Ryan currently resides in Nashville, TN with his wife, Katherine and their two dogs, Azi and Roux.
International Wine & Spirit Research
Piotr heads up the IWSR U.S. office and has been with them for over 10 years. Originally from Poland, Piotr has a business studies degree from the University of West London. One of IWSR’s most senior researchers, Piotr’s extensive annual travel schedule has included Central and Eastern Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East and the US markets.
More recently, he visited south-east Asia and Canada. Piotr describes his job as the best job in the world for him as he loves meeting new people, trying different foods and experiencing different cultures.
He is always the first to volunteer to go to open new exciting markets for IWSR such as Indonesia, Cambodia and recently Burma.
When not traveling, he is an avid photographer and relaxes by jogging for many miles in the early mornings.
Best Selling Author and Motivational Speaker
Often called a Digital Dale Carnegie and the Tony Robbins of Tech, Erik Qualman is a #1 Best Selling Author and Motivational Keynote Speaker who has spoken in 44 countries. The Socialnomics movement was spawned by Erik Qualman with the publication of his #1 Best Selling International Book of the same title. The book benchmarks the effects and implications of social media on our daily lives, and how businesses can harness its power. Socialnomics is an essential book for anyone who wants to understand the implications of social media on our daily lives and how businesses can tap the power of social media to increase their sales, cut their marketing costs, and reach consumers directly. Qualman’s work has been featured on 60 Minutes, the Wall Street Journal and used by the National Guard to NASA. He is a current Guinness Book of World Records holder for the longest continuous podcast, and his book, Digital Leader, propelled him to be voted the 2nd Most Likeable Author in the World behind Harry Potter’s J.K. Rowling. His latest book, What Happens in Vegas Stays on YouTube is being adopted by the top universities and global brands and is nominated for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize. Qualman is a sitting professor at Harvard & MIT’s edX labs. Qualman has made the Forbes Top 50 Power Influencers list, and Fast Company lists Professor Qualman as a Top 100 Digital Influencer. Qualman was Academic All-Big Ten in basketball at Michigan State University and has been honored as the Michigan State University Alum of the Year. Qualman has an MBA from the McCombs School of Business. A proud husband and father he splits his time between Miami, Austin and Boston.
“Qualman is to social media what Demming is to quality and Drucker to management.”” – Scott Galloway, NYU Stern School of Business
Founder & CEO
Bottlenotes is the leading new media company in the wine category dedicated to educating and entertaining wine enthusiasts via four primary channels: email newsletters (The Daily Sip®, received daily by over 300,000 wine enthusiasts by email and 180,000 on Facebook), and the Weekly Pint, interactive events such as the Around the World in 80 Sips® national event series, social media platforms, and iPhone applications.
Alyssa is the author of Bottlenotes Guide to Wine: Around the World in 80 Sips (Adam’s Media, October 2008) and frequently contributes to digital publications including Forbes.com and The Huffington Post. She has been a guest on The TODAY Show, Fox Business Network, The Rachael Ray Show, ABC, and NBC as an expert on wine and entrepreneurship.
Alyssa earned a B.A. in Political Science and the History of Art from Yale University in 2000 and an M.B.A. from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business in 2005. Alyssa was named as one of Inc.’s “30 Under 30” coolest entrepreneurs in America, one of Playboy.com’s “10 Sexiest CEOs” in America, and one of the Top 100 most influential people in the US Wine Industry (#23). Alyssa serves on the Board of Trustees for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, the country’s preeminent contemporary dance company, and on the Executive Board of Spark Program, a non-profit that provides transformative apprenticeships for middle school students. Alyssa and her husband, Hal Morris, welcomed their first daughter Audrey to the world in September 2012.
President and CEO
Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America
Craig Wolf has been the President and CEO of the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America (WSWA) since 2006. Founded in 1943, WSWA is a national trade association consisting of 350 wine and spirits wholesalers and brokers whose members operate in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. As President of WSWA, Craig serves as the voice of the wholesale wine and spirits industry, advocating for wholesalers’ interests with state and federal elected officials, the media, regulators and the law enforcement community. WSWA supports legislation, regulation and public policy at both the state and federal levels that promotes a consumer-focused, accountable and responsible system for the distribution of beverage alcohol, and which serves to prevent underage access. As Chief Executive Officer of WSWA, Craig manages the day to day operations of one of Washington’s most influential trade associations with an annual budget of nine and one half million dollars, a staff of eighteen and a two million dollar per cycle Political Action Committee (WSWA-PAC).
Prior to taking over the top spot at the association in 2006, Craig held the position of WSWA’s General Counsel for just under seven years. Before joining WSWA, Craig served as Counsel to the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, as a Trial Attorney in the Criminal Division of the Department of Justice and for five years worked as an Assistant State’s Attorney for Allegany County, Maryland. Craig received his law degree in 1987 from the University of Baltimore School of Law in Baltimore, Maryland, and his bachelor’s degree from Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania in 1984. He is also a Certified Association Executive (CAE) and graduate of the Institute for Organization Management. Craig is a Major in the United States Army Reserve and is currently assigned to the U.S. Army Special Forces Command (Airborne). He is a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan). He lives in Howard County, Maryland with his wife Sally and their children Hannah and Zachary.
President, Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce
Prior to accepting the position of President of the Colorado Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, Tyler Henson was a lobbyist at one of Colorado’s premier lobbying firms, Axiom Strategies Inc. He not only managed key issues for clients but worked to build associations that the company was tasked to build and oversee. Henson represented many facets of Colorado’s economy, and it is this experience with multiple industries-especially heavily regulated industries, which made him an exceptional choice to lead the Chamber. Henson has represented clients from the liquor, gaming, ski, and marijuana industries, among others. He holds a BA in Political Science & Public Affairs from the Metropolitan University of Denver, and a MPS from the University of Denver in Healthcare Policy & Leadership. Henson lives in Littleton, Colorado with his wife Ji and their son Ethan.