Abdul J Ford "LIKE" me on FacebookU.S.B.G.Member Since 2010 Driskill Hotel Mixologist 2005-2013 Official Drink of Austin Winner 2010 Domaine De Canton Bartender of the Year Semi-Finalist 2011 Ebony Magazine March 2013 I actually started eight years ago in Dec. 2003. I was working for a Car Advertising Company in Long Beach, Ca. I got tired of the long hours; one December I had a two week vacation. So, with that time I enrolled into ABC BARTENDING PROGRAM just as something to go, pass the class with the second highest score. After passing the program, I went back to work, really started hating the long hours. One year later, I went out looking for my ‘kick ass’ bartending job…and it did not come easy! Door after door, Hotels, Bars, Night Clubs, and Restaurants you name it. Sadly, they turn me away as a result of no real experience behind the bar. This didn’t stop me from trying; in fact, it gave me a reason to keep pushing forward. Through my persistence and determination, I found a home at a new opening of a Macaroni Grill in Ontario, California. Now that I had found place to plant my seed, it was time to grow. Within the first month of employment I went from hourly bartender to bartending manager, also referred as a green towel. As a reflection of my growth, I decided to start to blind creativity and audacity to create my first original drink ‘Pink Pleasure’. To this day according to Drinknation.com is still in the top 100, along with five of my other unique creations. Due to my intuitive nature of seeking new changes in my life, I decide to start a new in Austin, Texas. After a steady new life with the Driskill Hotel, I feel like I’m ready to show Austin what I have to offer. As a result, I enter in the Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Fest: Grape Escapes Cocktail Showdown, sponsored by Maker’s Marks’ President Bill Samuels and Austin Mark’s Mark’ Ambassador Adam Harris. When I get there and scout out the competition, I notice I’m the only Entry with no followers and was not known in the community. The winner was the one and only Russell Davis, who was at the time the President of the U.S.B.G. (United States Bartenders’ Guild) and by the way of Russell Davis and Adam Harris I went online join the U.S.B.G. Austin Chapter. I slowly make a name for myself, not only through marking and promoting myself as a brand but through the community but also through big marketing brands such as Maker’s Mark and Tito’s Vodka. With the increase in community support I try my hand at the official drink of Austin Contest held by Austin’s Convention and Visitors Bureau with my Rosemary Lemonade, which consists of fresh rosemary, basil thyme, lemon juice, seltzer water and a touch of simple syrup. Surprisingly, it being one of the popular drinks at the Driskill, it didn’t have anything “Austin” about it. I take that to consideration at begin to actually research and study what makes Austin special. Once I found the answer that I was looking for, I was looking forward to the following year’s competition. In 2010, I enter the official drink of Austin competition with the ‘Brazos Brasiliensis Batini’. Everything about this drink ties into Austin. The name inspired by the Mexican Free-Tail Bat, The Brazos River to the native growing hibiscus plant and then is topped off with local distilled Tito’s vodka. The drink popularity brought it some national lime light in the Wall Street Journal:“a must-visit for a nightcap. Enter through the hotel's palatial 19th-century lobby, then sidle up to a buckskin-covered stool at the dark wood bar and try the Brazos Brasiliensis Batini: a vodka-based cocktail with hibiscus and ginger simple syrup. A deep, blackberry purple, and just the right amount of sweet, it offers all the pleasures of a "girly" drink with none of the embarrassment.”- Kate BolickSoon after that, I was announced as a Regional Semifinalist for Domaine De Canton’s Bartender of the Year in 2011. I hope through my past achievements and plans for the future, I will continue to be positive and growing figure in the Austin community. I am grateful and appreciate everyone’s support.