Kyle got his start in the industry working weekend nights at a 24- hour diner while getting his degree from Virginia Tech. “The high I got from running around got me hooked. The nightmares I got from not knowing what I was doing made me hungry,” shares Kyle. From there he moved back to Philadelphia and is now the head barman at Red Owl Tavern in the Hotel Monaco, located right across the street from Independence Hall and The Liberty Bell.
Kyle believes in a mindful approach to bartending. “Its all a balancing game.” For him, that balance lies between the experience and the craft.
“With service, there are two parties involved in the experience. The guest and myself. It’s those times where both parties are on the same page that personal connections are made and that’s what makes this job all worth it to me. They’re in my home, and I have the power to alter people’s mood and change their whole day around. So when a guest comes I have the opportunity to give them that sparkling refreshing drink that makes them feel special, or that warm comforting drink that makes them feel like their home even if their thousands of miles away.”
Taking pride in his craft is important, but he tries to keep his ego in check. “I think cocktail lists should be made for your guests without influence from your own ego.” It shouldn’t be “look what I can do,” it should read more like, ‘this is what I can do for you.’ Most guests don’t have the same amount of knowledge as their bartender, nor should they. It’s my profession, and my responsibility to have the knowledge of spirits and techniques. I educate the guests that are interested in it, but my list is heavily influenced by what most people ask for, with some cool techniques or interesting flavors that keep it exciting for me as well.