The Fords are high school sweethearts who made a name for themselves in the San Francisco bar scene before following their dream to NYC. Once in the Empire State, hard work and dedication landed Kyle Ford a spot as the corporate mixologist for Remy Cointreau while Rachel Ford currently works as the local ambassador for Tanqueray. Besides their industry expert gigs, The Fords jointly created the Ford Mixology Lab, a blog site initially intended as a place for bartenders to compare notes evolving into a consulting company, creating bar menus, styling drinks for major companies and brands like Kettle One and Don Julio, to writing for industry publications and creating a series of how-to videos that have become the gateway for mass America to drink better and take the mystery out of mixology.

What does it take to be a “star” bartender?

It’s a bartender’s responsibility to read the customer; I think that’s forgotten about. We are capable of creating wonderful concoctions a lot of times with these fresh ingredients, even stuff we have made on our own but we spend so much time focusing on the drink, we haven’t looked up in a while and paid attention to the person ordering it. How was their day? Who are they? Have you seen them before? This aspect of bartending has been overlooked for a while. A cocktail is so much more than its ingredients, it’s an experience, there’s that social element. We are in a people business, a social business, and we need to pay attention to what brings a person back to your place. It is a matter of what you would like to be remembered for. I would rather put a smile on a face then make them the perfect ingredients.

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Trying to counteract the snooty mixologist image is one reason we decided to launch the how to videos. Bartending should be accessible and exciting, friendly and never intimidating. We should make it accessible to everyone. My favorite guest when working behind the bar are the ones who knew very little but had that curiosity and are happy to learn and try- not the cocktail geeks, the regular person- making someone’s world open up to new experiences and offering a drink that caters to their individual palate is the most exciting thing about bartending for me. You can have an amazing bartender present you with a mediocre drink but the whole package can subjectively enhance the experience. A bar star makes a person feel comfortable and embraces their interests. If you shut them down and keep it all a mystery, we are not really doing our job. The Ford Mixology Lab offers informative how to videos, cocktail recipes, and recipes formatted for note cards, which can be printed and stored for quick reference.

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