Steve Beal is a very familiar figure to both the consumers who enjoy them and those in the trade who make and spirits. He has earned the respect of everyone he meets with his endless energy and passion for all things distilled and whisky in particular.
Before his retirement from corporate life, he served as fulltime official brand ambassador for some of the world’s iconic whisky brands. Many have come to consider him the unofficial brand ambassador for the category of whisky as a whole.
He is regarded as one of the top distilled spirits experts in America. For most of his whisky career, Steve was one of the spirits giant Diageo’s original Masters of Whisky and Sr. Master of Whisky for DIAGEO Spirits on the US West Coast at the time of his official retirement in 2015.
2017 – Became Chairing Judge for the International Wine & Spirits Competition, UK, the world’s oldest and largest blind tasting competition where has served as a panel judge for seven years.
2016 – He was honored with Life Membership – Lifetime Achievement Award by US Bartenders Guild at the Spirited Awards at Tales of The Cocktail in New Orleans.
2015 – Became Chair the Judging for the World Whiskies Awards for the Americas for Whisky Magazine. He also judges the World Whiskies Awards in the UK
2015 – He was inducted into the Whisky Magazine Hall of Fame together with Al Young of Four Roses Bourbon and Bill Samuels of Makers Mark.
2010 – He was created “Keeper of the Quaich”, an honor bestowed only upon the elite of the Scotch Whisky industry. Fifty-two individuals from around the world were welcomed at Blair Castle in the heart of the Scottish Highlands for induction into the Keepers of the Quaich.
2000 – He became a founding judge for the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, a position he continues in to this day.
In addition to his former role as Master of Whisky, Steve is also known as a writer, chef, and broadcast personality. He judges for the American Distilling Institute, the American Craft Spirits Association, and the Ambrosia Spirits Awards in Mumbai. He currently serves on the management committee of the US Bartenders Guild Master Mixologist program and is one of its founders.
Steve makes his home in the Russian Hill neighborhood of San Francisco. He is a graduate of Oxford University and the University of Arizona. He holds a Master of Divinity Degree from The Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Berkeley, California and is an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church where he also serves in a voluntary capacity as assisting priest at San Francisco’s nearby Grace Cathedral on Nob Hill. He also volunteers his time working with the City’s homeless.
When global food and beverage suppliers, distributors and operators seek an educator with an expertise in spirit and cocktail development, sustainability and strategy, they regularly turn to Dänny Ronen. His passion and specialization in product development, operations and environmentally conscious practices has made him a sought-after advocate for forward-thinking movement in the food and beverage industry.
In 2001, Ronen launched DC Spirits, a premier food, wine and spirits educational organization. He is a frequent speaker and has hosted engaging seminars at VIBE, Natural Food Expo, Manhattan Cocktail Classic, Tales of the Cocktail, SF Cocktail Week, Arizona Cocktail Week and Green America, on topics such as sustainability in spirits, combining craft and profitability, fair trade practices and spirits/cocktail history.
Ronen conducts recipe and product development, event planning, staff education, brand-building and runs activations for such companies as Diageo, Moët Hennessy, Pernod Ricard, Campari, Anchor Distilling, Heaven Hill, Brown-Forman, Novo Fogo Cachaça Organica, Del Maguey Single Village Mezcals and Fair Trade USA. He is also on the founding board of the United States Bartenders’ Guild National Charity Foundation, a group of hospitality peers dedicated to promoting community service, non-profit advocacy and charitable giving.
As Director of Education at Liquid Kitchen, Dänny is involved in beverage development and concept ideation, product innovation and activation, staff training and education, as well as new bar set up and openings. Under Dänny’s tutelage, national and international properties such as the Fairmont and Raffles Hotels have honed their beverage programs to incorporate workplace efficiencies, including recycling, composting and energy use, which produce both cost savings and better practices for the environment. In addition, many of the properties on which Ronen has revamped the cocktail program have seen immediate success – from the Long Bar at Raffles Makati in Manila, whose cocktail sales are over 80% of total F&B to the famed Tonga Room in San Francisco, whose cocktail sales doubled within the first five days of the new program and tripled soon thereafter.
Dänny’s writing and recipes can be found in featured media such as the New York Times, Vanity Fair, San Francisco Chronicle, Imbibe, Clear Channel’s Green Radio, Sunset and Tasting Panel. He also runs trainings, classes, tastings and presentations on such diverse topics as denomination of origin, production and global impact within spirit categories and has sat on judging panels for the LA Spirits Competition and WSWA. Ronen can be found experimenting and creating new flavors or curating exciting experiences near you. Please keep him away from butane torches, hand blenders and caffeine.
Sr. Ambassador, Master of Scotch Whisky Pernod Ricard
Richard Edwards feels immeasurable pride in the fact that he is able to make a living from his true passion: Scotch Whisky. A native of Des Moines, Iowa with Scottish-Norwegian heritage, Edwards spent the bulk of his youth in Minneapolis until he joined the military in 1986. After serving six years in the army as an Infantry Paratrooper, he moved to Hollywood and began working in the whisky industry under the guidance of Evan Cattanach, Master Keeper of the Quaich, Master Distiller Emeritus, and Distillery Manager.
Over the next decade, Edwards journeyed through Scotland, working for several different distilleries in positions ranging from Brand Builder to Brand Ambassador to National MEntor. In 2001, Rick fulfilled a dream when he was invited to the Royal Lochnagar Academy of Malt Advocates. Upon completion of the course, he was bestowed the title “Master of Scotch.” Rick’s most recent position was that of Brand Ambassador for The Glenlivet. In his current role, he represents the entire Pernod Ricard Scotch portfolio as a Master of Scotch.
Rick was awarded the Chivas Masters award by Pernod Ricard, which is a highly sought after qualification recognised worldwide with only select individuals awarded the accolade each year. Having spent two highly-decorated decades in the whisky limelight, Rick was awarded the prestigious Icon of Whisky in 2015, as well as recently nominated once again in 2017.
Jim Romdall has spent the last sixteen years running bars and restaurants, gaining national acclaim and notoriety operating Vessel, one of the first progressive cocktail bars. In 2013, Jim took over as bar manager of Rumba in Seattle and immersed himself into the world of rum. Since then, he has risen to be one of the country’s foremost experts on the category, and Rumba is now one of the most premiere rum destinations in the world. Recently he followed his love of preaching sugar cane spirits and accepted the role of Northwest Brand Manager with Novo Fogo Cachaça. Jim travels as much as he can, and often dabbles in consulting, judging competitions, and guest bartending wherever he goes. He is a founding member of the Washington Bartender’s Guild and a judge at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
With over fifteen years of experience in the service industry from Boston to Miami, Mia Mastroianni became one of the founding bartenders of Soho House West Hollywood – the private members-only club where she remains a well respected and oft-requested mixologist for the who’s who of Hollywood.
Known for her tall figure and sassy fun attitude, “Tall Mia” has also opened Soho House locations in Miami Beach, FL and in Toronto, Canada – training their respective bar staffs on giving the highest quality of service, implementing proper technique, and executing incredible cocktails. A familiar face in competitions of the bartender elite, in 2012 she won the Speed Rack competition for fastest bartender for all of Southern California, has competed for the national title among the top contenders in New York twice, and recently moved to the judges table in Las Vegas 2015.
Her expertise led her to be cast as an expert mixologist on Spike Network’s highly rated TV show “Bar Rescue” for the last three seasons. She also frequently gives her thoughts on “Bar Rescue” episodes on the popular podcast “AfterBuzz TV”, produced by Maria Menounos and Keven Undergaro. Her television presence also includes cocktail segments on “Morning Buzz Live with Nick Lachey” for the VH1 Network and The FABlife with Chrissy Teigen on ABC.
Mia stays current with industry and consumer trends by attending and speaking at various seminars and conferences, and continues her education in distillation by traveling to various distilleries. Mia’s also been a bar consultant on various feature films and regularly consults on new bar programs.
Bobby “G” Gleason has been tending bars and creating cocktails for over 30 years, beginning his career in the fast paced Nightclubs of South Florida before moving to Las Vegas. He has the honor of opening the Mirage Hotel and then went on to open Treasure Island and the Bellagio. It was at the Bellagio where Bobby was elevated to Master Mixologist and began competing in and winning many national and international cocktail competitions.
He holds the title for the “World’s Most Sensuous Cocktail” and has won Bartender’s Magazine’s New York International Cocktail Competition and was named the USA Mixologist of the Year in 2005-2006. Bobby is a National Ambassador of the United States Bartenders Guild, and often Emcees or serves as a judge for cocktail competitions all over the world.
As the Master Mixologist for Beam Suntory, Bobby is an expert in all spirits categories and works with our Brand teams and R &D on new products. Bobby travels across the globe to train Bartenders, Consumers and Media about spirits, cocktails, and proper barmanship.
CEO LOCAL CHOICE SPIRITS | Founder of #Pour It Forward Celebrity Brands
Paula Dezzutti from Charleston, SC is the CEO of Local Choice Spirits, a family run award winning brand development and distribution platform combining the strength of super premium boutique spirits with experienced industry professionals, top-notch celebrity artists, and a pioneering beverage loyalty initiative program. Local Choice Spirits is driven by their vision statement to “Pour It Forward,” which marries philanthropy with daily celebration. $2 of every bottle purchased for a community event will be donated back to that community to match their efforts. So far this year she donated over $20,000 to our Veterans! The Kosher symbol on our labels, with the monitoring and care it represents, ensures the highest quality standards to the largest and most diverse consumer audience, and the Local Choice Awards symbol represents her commitment to the financial and spiritual well-being of our communities.”
Paula spent two decades as an expert in the financial and tax planning field before becoming an early investor, brand manager, and director on the board of a cutting-edge spirits technology company. Now having worldwide connections in the industry, her experience over the last several years resulted in her being featured in The Huffington Post, Yahoo Finance, Dow Jones Market Watch, Proof 66, Wine and Country Magazine, Whiskey Passion Magazine, and Entrepreneur Mind World. She has spoken at The American Distilling Conference, The American Beverage Consortium, The Los Angeles Brand Innovation Summit, and The Confidence Factor for Women. Local Choice creates award-winning spirits for the hottest names in the music and TV industry. Their products have won over 50 awards at international taste test competitions, are enjoyed by customers in over 40 states and have been seen by over 10 million viewers on cable TV shows. A docudrama of her own life is in the works as well as the release of her first book. You can find her on Facebook at Pixie Paula Official.
Paula was the first female judge at the San Diego Spirits Festival in August 2016. Her commitment and vision for the industry is contagious. New iconic American Folklore releases include the launch of Al Capone’s Private Reserve Rum and Tequila, Kurt Thomas’ Georgia Pecan Moonshine, Dwight Eubanks Gin Collection, Trina Braxton’s Georgia Pecan Bourbon line, all fit for the royalty in all of us!
Juyoung Kang comes to her position with considerable experience and acclaim. Some of her most recent recognitions include “Bartender of the Year 2015” from the Nevada Restaurant Association and Desert Companions, her regional wins for GQ and Bombay Sapphire’s “Most Imaginative Bartender” 2014; Liquor.com and Woodford Reserve’s “Manhattan Experience” 2014; United States Bartenders Guild and Nightclub and Bar’s “Shake It Up” 2015 and second place winner for 2016; and Bacardi Legacy 2014. She is also part of the Tales of the Cocktails’ Cocktail Apprentice Program (CAP) where they volunteer to help put on a weeklong event for industry professionals, media and consumers on the education of all things cocktail every mid July down in New Orleans, LA.
A Philadelphia native, Kang started out bartending in her hometown and shortly made her way to Los Angeles where she worked at the Peninsula and Thompson Beverly Hills Hotels. Soon after, Kang moved to Las Vegas where she tended bar at Comme Ca. Kang opened the popular downtown Las Vegas bars Park on Fremont and Commonwealth, including Commonwealth’s widely praised speakeasy, “The Laundry Room,” awarded “Best Nightclub with the Best Mixologists” by the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Most recently, Kang has worked with the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas’ unique supper club Rose.Rabbit.Lie., BLVD Cocktail Company at The LINQ and Emeril Lagasse’s Delmonico Steakhouse.
Damian Cross came to Las Vegas more than 10 years ago from Upstate New York, looking to become a true beverage professional. In 2007 he landed his first job at Border Grill in Mandalay Bay where he helped to develop one of Las Vegas’ first fully seasonal and all fresh bar programs offered in the city. From there he oversaw the bar at Yolo’s Mexican Grill as Lead Bartender where he was responsible for developing menus, training, and managing the staff. In 2012, he joined Wolfgang Puck as the Head Bartender at CUT inside the Venetian Las Vegas. While at the helm at CUT, Damian was able to develop one of the top whiskey and craft cocktail menus in the city and spearheaded its beverage training program.
In 2015, Damian joined Wynn Las Vegas & Encore Las Vegas as Property Mixologist where he was instrumental in reviving the cocktail programs while driving standardization of policies and procedures within the properties’ 20+ bars. In 2017, he was instrumental in the successful reopening of Wynn Las Vegas’ anchor bars, Parasol Up and Parasol Down, crafting uniquely modern beverage programs for each venue.
Now, Damian has taken on a new role as the first ever Corporate Mixologist for Station Casinos, a premiere gaming and entertainment company with 20 casinos throughout Southern Nevada. In this new role, he will continue to drive innovation, build and strengthen teams, programs and overall quality at dozens of bars and restaurants