The Punch Room is a modern day drinking den on the 15thfloor of The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte. Its exclusive seating—only 37 guests—and golden couches are reminiscent of the 19thcentury speakeasies of yesteryear. Each handcrafted cocktail and delectable appetizer is prepared with only the freshest ingredients, gathered from the rooftop garden and local vendors to yield a natural flavour. The intimate setting and unique libations prove the perfect combination for those seeking a mature, unique evening out.
I live and work in Charlotte, North Carolina. I was actually born here so I have an intense love and deep respect for my city. My bartending adventure began about 20 years ago in a humble yet adored dive bar, the Elizabeth Pub, where I twisted off beer caps and poured straight shots of whiskey as neighbourhood regulars played pool. Little by little I bartended my way through neighbourhood pubs to super high volume nightclubs. I enjoyed every second. I discovered my passion for craft cocktails about six years ago and I haven’t looked back.
In the south, we love taking care of folks. Some of my favourite memories are of my parents entertaining dinner guests and taking pride in every little detail even for casual get togethers. My Dad would always say: “Come on in the house and let me pour you something to drink.” This is exactly how I feel at the beginning of every evening in my bar, like a host that is looking forward to welcoming some of my friends into my home. Like in my childhood memories, every detail on every night has to be perfect. I love selecting the coveted glassware, creating the perfect piece of ice, choosing soulful and ambient music and even taking care that the right amount of light comes through the windows. Through these practices and in the very cosy and elegant “home” that The Punch Room has provided, I am able take our guests on a one of a kind adventure. Part of what makes the intimate experience so special is that the guests are able to share every step of my creative process. It’s really fun to share and explore my knowledge of boutique locally distilled spirits. It’s amazing to be able to send folks out with a unique shopping list to buy new booze.
I am so lucky to have my pick of organically grown ingredients that come from my roof top garden. There is something really special about harvesting fresh produce grown especially for our cocktails. So, thanks to my southern roots and my folks, I am honoured to always be considered a gentleman who takes pride in being a gracious host. How lucky am I that I call this my job?
I am heavily influenced by the seasons. I have cultivated some pretty special relationships with some incredible local farmers who have, in the process, become dear friends. The experience of having access to fresh and local ingredients is like no other. I love planning future menu ideas with my farmer friends. I am also influenced by the ever-growing local distilleries here in North Carolina. Gratefully,I have developed relationships with many of them. I really like knowing where the things I consume come from. To me, it is so much more personal and there is something really magical about working with spirits that you know were born out of love. I believe that love transfers directly to the experience that my guest has with the handcrafted cocktails that I prepare. It’s so exciting to be able to tell folks that I know the family that made the spirits that I am pouring and that so much pride and care has gone into their creation.
As I said before, to me it’s all about the details. Nothing is too small and nothing should ever be overlooked. I love being able to take my time to prepare something special all the while bathing in the emotions that are evoked and shared with my guests during that time. Through using locally sourced and fresh ingredients I strive to create very bold flavour combinations that are unexpected. My goal is to always create one of a kind experiences for my guests. My philosophy is pretty simple. I believe that intention, emotion and action should match. A stunning room warrants delicious food, delicious food calls for impeccable service and impeccable service deserves exquisite craft cocktails. Everything should dance together and when it does, you have an opportunity to catch lightning in a bottle. I think we have.
Find out more about The Punch Room at The Ritz-Carlton here |www.ritzcarlton.com