“Josue made an everlasting first expression that instantly inspired and energized me,” explains Morten Krag, the Copenhagen-based mixologist behind the Instagram account @TheCocktail.blog of his friend, Josue Romero.
“He was never afraid to show and give a little piece of himself, to the rest of the community, which I really was in awe of.”
Those sentiments are a common refrain from Romero’s friends, associates and fans of the noted industry personality, social media star and member of the Chilled 100 in light of the news of the Los Angeles native’s December passing. In his wake, Romero leaves a rich legacy whether in work behind the bar or his popular Instagram account @The_GarnishGuy, which attracted fans and admirers worldwide.
“Josue and I started following each other on Instagram, and we were actually social media friends for some time before we ever met in person,” says the global cocktail creative for Alliance Brands Limited BAD BIRDY, who’s also behind her own popular Instagram account (@Bad_Birdy). Like many, she remembers Romero’s warmth. “Josue came to guest bartend with me at (the Los Angeles bar) The House of Machines and the moment he walked in we embraced as if we were siblings that had not seen each other in some time. We are both of Latin descent and have a flashy style when it comes to fashion, we bonded quickly.”
For Romero, diving into the world of bartending and cocktails manifested itself after he found himself unfulfilled in his former corporate job. “I realized that I wasn’t happy with what I was doing for work, so I decided to leave,” he told the website VoyageLA this past August. Romero then threw himself into the world of bartending, devouring books about the craft, taking classes, and even interning with a chef to develop a richer understanding about flavor profiles. Before long, he placed second in his very first cocktail competition. For his next two competitions, he placed first.
“People started following me on Instagram, bars started asking me to do guest appearances, I started bartending for brands,” Romero said of his rise. “Soon I was not just attending the hospitality events, I was bartending them and my cocktails started appearing in magazines and blogs.”
“He came out of nowhere just making beautiful cocktail photos,” remembers Mack Ordaya, otherwise known as @ImbibePhotography on Instagram. “Josue’s fame grew so fast. But he stayed humble and didn’t think he was too good to not respond to any comments or messages.” Ordaya said he would even spitball ideas with Romero about what photos to post on his own account. “I would send him photos and be like yay or nah and he would be honest one way or the other. We had an idea of a cocktail video shoot that we were gonna do after these Covid times were over. I still plan to do it.”
Romero’s penchant for creativity was on full display this past summer when he was featured as a CHILLED Drink of the Week. Raising awareness for the plight of bees, he concocted Hey Honey Bear, a cocktail that not only included Bärenjäger Honey Liqueur and Rye Whiskey, but Gooseberry Juice and Suze. “I was absolutely inspired by how he was able to balance great recipes, amazingly creative garnished, beautiful photography and ‘being himself,’” explained Matthias Soberon, the Belgium native behind @ServedBySoberon. “He was able to build bridges between being an influencer and still being amazingly real. He was so much at once, yet still so approachable. His appearance was loud, but his heart was gentle. He was rock n roll and soothing jazz.”