Alex Renshaw has rather large shoes to fill. The 28-year-old recently left Sable Kitchen & Bar to become head bartender at Drumbar, the classically styled Gold Coast cocktail lounge. It's a position that previously was filled by hotshot mixologists Benjamin Newby and, most recently, Craig Schoettler. While Renshaw may not command the same name recognition—yet—he's a face that cocktail fans definitely will see more of in the future. Here are 10 things to know about this rising star.
1. He's from the Midwest. Born and raised in Fort Wayne, Ind., Renshaw got his start bartending at a shots-and-beer bar in Cincinnati, Ohio.
2. He thought he'd try comedy. After working in corporate sales for a few years, Renshaw realized it wasn't for him. He moved to Chicago to pursue improv comedy, and began bartending at Sable Kitchen & Bar; eventually, he was skipping improv classes to pick up bartending shifts and knew that being behind the bar was his true passion.
3. His cocktails lean classic. "I didn’t choose a style; I think you just realize your style as you’re coming up with cocktails," Renshaw said. "Mine typically ended up being more classically driven. I always try to keep cocktails below five ingredients if I can."
4. He has a favorite spirit ... and it's rum. "I can be geeky about rum. It's my favorite spirit to use in cocktails."
5. Off the clock, find him at The Barrelhouse Flat. After work, Renshaw said he oftens stops by the Lincoln Park cocktail bar for food and to taste new drinks the bartenders are working on. "Those guys are so weird and out-there with their cocktails and they’re always doing inspirational stuff. They all have a solid knowledge of the classics, too," he said.
6. He likes to travel. Most recently, Renshaw visited Buenos Aires, and hopes to return again next year.
7. But he doesn't speak Spanish. "I bought some flash cards," he said. "I think I used them for a week."
8. He'll put more beers on Drumbar's menu. Renshaw appreciates the high-end beers that currently are offered, but wants to add more local brews, as well as lighter and less expensive options.
9. He's equally confident and realistic. "I mean, of course my brain is going a thousand miles a minute right now. But if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t be human," Renshaw said. "It’s a big job. It’s something I’m really passionate about and I really won’t stop until it’s a great, great bar."
10. He's one to keep an eye on. At this year's Tales of the Cocktail, the country's largest beverage industry event, Renshaw was named one of 10 national "Bartenders to Watch."